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Stimulus Checks for Deceased Persons: What to Do

May 14, 2020Articles

Shortly after the IRS began issuing stimulus checks (otherwise known as “Economic Impact Payments” under the CARES Act), Oast & Taylor began receiving inquiries from clients along the lines of the following:

I received a check made payable to my deceased loved one. What do I do?

It appears the IRS knows that your spouse or loved one has passed, so are you able to keep the funds? Some checks were made payable to the deceased person (such as “John Smith, deceased”). This does not necessarily mean you should keep or deposit the check.

During the last recession when stimulus checks were issued, the IRS made little to no effort to recover the payments issued to deceased persons. Many who have responded with questions may be under the impression that this would also be the case with the current stimulus checks issued. This is not the case.

On May 6, 2020, the IRS added new information to its FAQ page stating that people who have died are not eligible for payments and that these payments/checks should be returned to the IRS. Here’s a link with complete information.

A Payment made to someone who died before receipt of the Payment should be returned to the IRS by following the instructions in the Q&A about repayments. Return the entire Payment unless the Payment was made to joint filers and one spouse had not died before receipt of the Payment, in which case, you only need to return the portion of the Payment made on account of the decedent. This amount will be $1,200 unless adjusted gross income exceeded $150,000.

It is important to note that in the case of married couples where one spouse has died, the surviving spouse should return the portion of the payment made to the deceased spouse. For example, for couples who earned less than $150,000, the returned portion would be $1,200, while the surviving spouse would keep the remaining $1,200.

How to Return a Stimulus Check for a Deceased Person

The IRS provided the following instructions for returning a stimulus payment to a deceased person:

If the payment was a paper check:

  1. Write “Void” in the endorsement section on the back of the check.
  2. Mail the voided Treasury check immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below.
  3. Don’t staple, bend, or paper clip the check.
  4. Include a note stating the reason for returning the check.

If the payment was a paper check and you have cashed it, or if the payment was a direct deposit:

  1. Submit a personal check, money order, etc., immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below.
  2. Write on the check/money order made payable to “U.S. Treasury” and write 2020EIP, and the taxpayer identification number (social security number, or individual taxpayer identification number) of the recipient of the check.
  3. Include a brief explanation of the reason for returning the payment.

Virginia residents should return paper checks/payments to the following address:
Atlantic Internal Revenue Service
4800 Buford Highway
Chamblee, GA 30341

North Carolina residents should use the following address:
Memphis Internal Revenue Services
5333 Getwell Road
Memphis, TN 38118

At this point in time, it is uncertain what steps, if any, the IRS will take to compel repayment of stimulus checks to deceased persons.

As always, if you have any specific questions about the stimulus checks, or any other questions, the professionals at Oast & Taylor are happy to help you. We are accepting appointments, or can schedule a telephone or virtual meeting to help with any of your legal needs.

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A Note for Advisors

Please note that the law firm of Oast & Taylor is in one business only – that of representing our clients in elder law matters. Oast & Taylor is not in the investment or brokerage business. We do not have a financial services firm. We have no alternative agendas.

We look forward to collaborating with you in order to meet the needs of a client who is seeking investment advice.