IRS Deceased Spouse Refund Check Joint Return: “I have a complicated situation. My spouse died in 2013, so the following year I filed a joint tax return for 2013 as per IRS rules, indicating “Deceased” in the name section of my 1040. I signed the tax return as “Surviving Spouse.” My return had a balance due, which I had promptly paid to the IRS. This year I realized I had received a refund check for a refund from an amended tax return filed for the year of my spouse’s death, where I had filed jointly. For that year, I filed jointly, as per IRS rules, and signed the return as “Surviving Spouse.” The original filing also referenced my spouse as ‘deceased” in the name section at the top of my 1040. Help me understand the tax regulations.
This year I realized I had made a mistake on that return, so I filed a 1040X amended return that resulted in a credit balance (refund). After 15 weeks, I received a check in the mail made out in the following format:
[My First Name][My Last Name] & [Deceased First Name] DECD [Deceased Last Name]
Can I cash this check? How should I endorse it? Will I get in trouble?
I have looked online, and all I can find is where the IRS will replace my check with a new one made out only to me if I mark this one as VOID and send it to them with a letter of explanation. Why is it when I need help, the information I want seem impossible to find online? What should I do? By the way, my spouse did not have a will, and we went through small estate probate, so I’m not my spouse’s executor or legal representative.
IRS Deceased Spouse Refund Check Joint Return: Debunked
Truth in the Word helps people who need the truth for any part of their lives. When a spouse dies, you have many issues to deal with that can continue for years. The matter you described makes things worse, but we can help. Let’s get started by summarizing the facts involving your situation.
- Your spouse has no estate and therefore has no administrator or legal representative.
- You signed your 1040 and 1040X appropriately, but you don’t know if you should sign your check the same way.
- You need the money now, so you can’t afford to wait for an additional 6 to 8 weeks to get a replacement check made out only to you.
- You know you must endorse the check, and you don’t want to mess up your IRS Deceased Spouse Refund Check Joint Return.
Your situation has three possible outcomes:
- You deposit your check and live happily ever after. We are going to help you do this.
- You void your check and return it to the IRS along with a letter asking them to send you a new one with only your name as the payee.
- You receive your new check in two to three months and deposit it. After that, you live happily ever after. – OR –
- For some reason, the IRS either loses the check and your letter (along with any evidence they ever received it) and you go nuts for the next couple years filling out forms and sitting on endless holds with IRS agents trying to sort out the matter. – OR –
- For some reason, you either voided the check improperly or wrote on the front of it, prompting the IRS to review your entire tax history. You will go nuts for the next couple of years trying to get answers.
IRS Deceased Spouse Refund Check Joint Return: Learn the Truth
Your refund check lists your spouse with “DECD” between your partner’s first and last name. The “DECD” means that the IRS understands that person has died. The IRS believes that the surviving spouse can negotiate that check, and seems to assume that banks know that fact. Here’s what to do:
- Go to your bank with your refund check and your spouse’s death certificate.
- Walk in and wait to see a banker, not a teller. If you see a clerk, that person will ask the teller supervisor who will not give your situation the consideration it deserves.
- Explain the situation. Point out the “DECD” and how that means the IRS knows your spouse no longer lives.
- In most cases, your banker will discuss the matter with the branch manager. Both of them will likely hold a conference call with the legal department at your bank’s headquarters.
- Your bank’s legal department will approve your deposit. The banker will write a note on the back of your check affirming legal approval as well as an issue code. The banker will also have you sign the back of the check.
- Take the approved check to the teller and deposit it.
- Enjoy your refund.
Unfortunately, if you have an account at a credit union or a small local bank, the organization probably won’t have a robust legal team. As a result, they will likely refuse to allow you to cash or deposit your check. If this happens, you will need to call the IRS at 800-829-8374. Tell the IRS agent about your situation. In response, they will tell you the correct procedure to follow, including the address to which you must send your letter of explanation and voided check. We suggest that you send the letter certified with tracking and physical return receipt.