Death and taxes may be the only two certainties in life, but unfortunately, your tax obligation doesn't end when you die. Even after your death, the IRS can still audit your taxes. If there are any errors, your spouse (if you file jointly) or estate (if you file individually) will be liable. Fighting an audit can cost an estate thousands of dollars. Even if the IRS doesn't audit you, your estate will need access to all your tax records in order to file your final federal and state income tax returns and estate tax returns.
According to Martin Kuritz, author of The Beneficiary Book: A Family Information Organizer, tax time is a good time to get organized and make sure your tax information is in order. Some of his tips include putting all your tax records, receipts, canceled checks, etc. in an accessible location; creating a journal that explains how you formulated your tax deductions and includes the location of supporting documentation; maintaining accurate records about income, investments, dividends, and stocks and bonds; making sure your spouse or estate administrator knows the password to your computerized tax preparation program, if applicable.
To help get things organized, Kuritz is offering a free supplement to his book. First Things is available to download in PDF format from his Web site, www.active-insights.com. The supplement includes several fill-in forms to help your survivors know who to call and where to look for records in the case of your death.
To buy The Beneficiary Book, from Amazon, click here.