How to Sign a Tax Return If Taxpayer Dies Before Filing Taxes

The Internal Revenue Service has a detailed process for filing a tax return for a deceased taxpayer. Before a tax return can be signed, the person responsible for signing the return must be identified. If the deceased taxpayer was married, then the surviving spouse has the legal right to sign the return. If the deceased taxpayer was not married, then either the court-assigned personal representative or the person identified as being responsible for the distribution of the deceased taxpayer's estate can sign the return.

Step 1

Identify the deceased taxpayer. In the name and address section of the main form of the tax return (Form 1040 or other variable of this form), write "Deceased" next to the deceased taxpayer's name.

Step 2

Record the date of death. At the top of the main form of the tax return, write "Date of Death" and the deceased's date of death.

Step 3

Enter "Filing as surviving spouse" or "Filing as personal representative," depending on your relation to the deceased. The surviving spouse or personal representative needs to sign his own name.


If the deceased is due a refund, and you are not the surviving spouse, you may need to file a Form 1310 in order to claim the refund.

If you are not certain about completing the form or filing for a non-surviving spouse refund, consult with a tax professional.

Things You'll Need

  • Form 1040 or other filing equivalent

  • Date of death of the deceased taxpayer