anonymous11306 Asked November 2009

How will my 78-year-old mother's taxes get filed and paid, if she dies before I can get her back taxes dealt with?

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I recently got both Durable and Medical POA for my mother who is declining hapidly and seems to have given up on life after a broken hip and stroke. I learned that she is 5 years behind in taxes and so is her husband. Neither are able to deal with their taxes and I'm having a time getting everything to the CPA. We have 2004 done, 2005 is almost finished, but we still have the other years to go. She has all of the tax debt for she has the most money which she's always kept seperate from his and I have the right of survivorship to as well as co-ownership within the last few years to.

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EXPERT Carol Bradley Bursack Nov 2009
After a person dies the POA doesn't generally work. Get as much done as you can, now. If you are executor of her her estate, you'll be handling that after her death. If not, I would imagine the probate court will handle it, but you should have some legal advice.
Carol
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EXPERT K. Gabriel Heiser Dec 2009
Yes, the power of attorney always terminates on death of the "principal," i.e., your mother. At that point, the legal ability to file her taxes would rest with the executor/administrator of her estate, presumably you. You would file a Form 56, Notice of Fiduciary Relationship, with the IRS, once you are appointed by the court.

I suggest getting a copy of the IRS Publication 559 ("Survivors, Executors, and Administrators"), which has a lot of helpful instructions for your situation. You can find it online here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p559.pdf
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ezcare Dec 2009
An additional note to the excellent advice given above:
Try to get as much done as you can before you lose POA and get some help from someone who is knowledgeable in Probate Law for your state. My personal experience was that dealing with the IRS and with Probate court is much more difficult as Executor vs being able to resolve problems when you have Durable POA with co-ownership (Is this similiar to a Living Trust?) The IRS moves to the front of the line of predators if your mother dies owing them back taxes which in turn can stretch out Probate for years.
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N1K2R3 Dec 2009
Law School Class II: "Power of Attorney ceases with the death of the donor (principal)". Just get to the accountant and make sure the both of you sit down and complete her returns, year by year, late or not, until all returns are filed. I assume that she files under "Single" not "Head of Household", nor "Married Filing Separately". Just because you have POA now while she is alive, you can refuse the appointment of Executor/Administrator of the Estate, or Personal Representative, after she passes, if you wish. The court would then appoint someone else. If you should choose to do this, then you must file Form 56 and mail it in to the Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, prior to April 15 in the year after her death. This is a lot of work. You would then need to obtain an EIN number, and establish a checking account in the name of The Estate of __________, with you as authorized signee (agent), same name as you put down on Form 56. You should try to file her Will in Solemn Form (within six months) at the court in the county of her domicile, not yours. Then the real work begins. More later on all of this...I would listen to Mr. Heiser on Probate filings. I pray that she does not have any unpaid credit cards secured by real estate or motor vehicles. You've got your wpork cut out for you. Good Luck!
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patrica61 Dec 2009
get with with your personal CPA NOW. Explain what is happening. I made sure mom taxes were one on time once I notice a change in her behavior. I filled her last taxes in 2007 with my personal tax accountant. mom was having her income taxes done and she was not suppose to. She did not make enough income. But mom at the time lived in the state of New York which also had both city and state taxes . H& R Block did fill her taxes and charged her $60.00 and she got back $40.00. After calling IRS, I called and received a answer that she did not make enough to file. I also asked H & R Block why did they even do her taxes ? There answer was she had the paper work was a little out of and confused it but they did her taxes anyway. You see mom had Alzheimer's at the time. She did this behind my back. I just called the IRS dept regarding fraud and if they needed a copy of the death cert. They were very helpful . You see my mom just passed away and I just came back from New York and two weeks after her death I started to get credit cards transfer checks and application plus a bill that was sent out form a New York nursing home, you see they tried to bill Blue Cross/ and medicare from 2006-2007 when mom was in New York. Now I have a big meeting with Social security . I reported to all the credit companies, and called many government agencies. I was the durable power of attorney and legal rep and legal care giver, and on the will as Executor. No assets are left . After I could not take care of mom placed in a beautiful family run assisting living home of which I wass there all the time even with sleep overs. All her money went to pay for the care she received and I open account for my brother with the money that was listed in her will , of which no one can find him. Not even the Tamapa Fl police, or Governer Charlie Chris office in Florida. I completed all my mom requested wishes as she placed in her will by a legal attorney. One thing you can do also is call IRS at 1-800-829-1040, they did help me with some questions and also get request for a free credit report on any open credit cards since you are the power of attorney you can do that. I did and made sure all cards were at zero balance and closed over 3 years ago even before I bought her to Florida. My mom was hiding bills and not cashing refund checks. I made sure every thing was in order. Most important thing to remember when the person dies the Power of attorney is gone. Also make sure you do have a health epoxy or DNR if needed . They will try ever thing (the hospital) to keep the elderly alive and bill you or the insurance.Another thing you can do is get sworn in as Legal rep from the Social security dept, you do need to meet certain qualifactions it is better than POA on a checking account. You seem to be a good son, helping your both parents out take care and may god bless you getting things in order for your parents. It is hard. patrica61
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Thanks for all of this wonderful advice. It took until April to get both my mother and step-dad to agree to fire the life long friend of the family CPA would had not kept up with their taxes for 5 years although they had informed him on several occasions about the 2004 tax year getting a past due letter from the IRS which they hid from me and my step-siblings.

They have always filed jointly and this has been tough because my step-brother would rather be in charge or go off and play somewhere than work and be helpful. My step-brother has limited POA over his dad for he runs his business for him and pays the monthly household bills. He finally got the last needed item for 2005 to the CPA today. He also got the needed information we need to complete getting 2006 ready. My hope is to hear from the CPA that I can drive up their in the next day or two to sign, pay, and file this Federal and State Tax return for 2005. I've already organized all of the paper work that I'm to give the CPA for 2006, 2007, and 2008.

The only thing left for 2006 is to go over the various bank account checks to make a list of the itemized expenses that qualify as deductions. Last time, it took me about 5 hours to do that with my step-brother helping with reading his dad's handwriting.

We have discovered that their financial records are spread from the bedroom to the living room in various drawers, cabinets, etc. without any organization to them at all. I now have each year in a container with what goes to the CPA in smaller container inside. As I finish each year, I am placing that whole year in a big box, putting a label on it and placing it in the attic. My plan to is see all of this is done by early January and have 2009 filed by February of 2010.

I must deal with her car soon for it's only in her name. My step-dad's name does not appear on the title. He does not own a car and he does not drive. His helper drives my mother's car every day to take my step-dad to see my mother in the nursing home. Honestly, I could use that car. I'm sure if one of my friends were in my shoes with POA, that car would not be used by my step-dad anymore. I really must use my POA to add my name to the title or once she is dead that car is not longer drivable legally.
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I have yet to find her will. I know that one exists, but who knows where it is hidden in the house. She did not put it in her lock box. It is not on file at the county court house. My step-dad is clueless. I do know that she wanted me to have that car. I'm going with the joint title with JTWROS. Otherwise, it would have to be insured under my car insurance.
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patrica61 Dec 2009
It seem that you are on the right path. My mom listed that every thing wass to go to myself. I did not know this until I was called in to the lawyers office and he sat me done I ask if I agree to be the power of attorney and legal heath epoxy and then he went over the will what my wanted in case of her death. There was only two special reuest to make sure my brother did NOT get herr 1967 car and also that he was only to get a total of $500.00, nothing more due to the abuse he gave her and things he did to his many children and many women in his life. You see he is a dead beat dad, wanted for back taxes, stole from many jobs. No one can find him. I was able to get rid of the car, with my power of attorney and went to the motor vechile dept in New York. You should do that ASAP. Regarding the will if it was done by a legal lawyer he needed to be on fill in local court house. Your mom may even have a safe deposit box at a local bank. that needs to be check out. If your name is not on the box, you may have a problem. My mom did have important paper work all over, however on one of my many times being in New York I was able to find all the important legal paper work and placed it in a safe place.I was asked to leave in 2005 to go back home by the State of New York and get some rest, and protective services were involved(she left the gas on) Social Services and a nurse were to be theirtaking care of her and meal on wheels plus a aide. I gave the key to a close neighbor. She was the only one that did anything. I found this out by calling the house every day Three times naking sure her medicine was taken. You see in the begining stages of Alzheimers that when the person can hide things from others. But I knew there was something wrong. Mom feel again and back in the hospital and then placed in a Nursing home. WHEN I STARTED GETTING THINGS IN ORDER I FOUND GIFTS NOT OPEN, MONEY IN CHURCH ENVELOPES, COINS ALL OVER, MAIL AND BILLS NOT PAID. I had to sell the house, and find a place for my uncle who was also up in age ( it was a two family home) It took me almost one year to get the house fixed up and still keep my family at home in Florida happy. I did it with no help. No one was there for me, only the neighbor next store. (NOT THE STATE OF NEW YORK) You need to start looking through things and get rid of things you do not need you may find a key for a locked box. It could be wrap in a blanket or towel. There is no telling what you may find. I had two years with mom however she was in a assisting living due to myself not being able to take care of her or my husband. you see the doctor's don't tell us everything, mom was a lot sicker than I was told. The fire dept in Florida was called after four days of her living with me. The housse wass made child proof and all safety things put in place even setting up a room if I needed a nurse. Hang in there there are many people who are going through what you are now or have done it all. Some people will not help even realtives. GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY patrica61
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