IRS Pub. 17, Your Federal Income Tax
A personal representative of an estate can be an executor, an
administrator, or anyone who is in charge of the decedent's property.
Generally, an executor (or executrix) is named in a decedent's will
to administer the estate (property and debts left by the decedent) and
distribute properties as the decedent has directed.
An administrator (or administratrix) is usually appointed by the
court if no will exists, if no executor was named in the will, or if
the named executor cannot or will not serve.
In general, an executor and an administrator perform the same
duties and have the same responsibilities. For simplicity, the term
personal representative will be used throughout this chapter to refer
to these "appointed" representatives and to representatives who
are not appointed, but are in charge of a decedent's property.
The surviving spouse may or may not be the personal representative,
depending on the terms of the decedent's will or the court
The primary duties of a personal representative are to collect all
of the decedent's assets, pay the creditors, and distribute the
remaining assets to the heirs or other beneficiaries.
The personal representative must also take the following actions.
- Notify the IRS (as discussed below) that he or she is acting
as the personal representative.
- File any income tax return and estate tax return that is
due. (See Final Return for the Decedent, next).
- Pay any income tax and estate tax that is due.
- Provide the payers of any interest and dividends the name(s)
and identification number(s) of the new owner(s). (See Interest
and Dividend Income (Forms 1099) later.)
For more information on the duties and responsibilities of the
personal representative, see Duties under Personal
Representatives in Publication 559.
Notifying the IRS.
You can use Form 56 to notify the District Director and
the Internal Revenue Service Center, as required. See the instructions
for Form 56 for more information.
Previous | First | Next
Publication 17 | 1998 Tax Year Archives | Tax Help Archives | Home