Losing a loved one comes with all sorts of emotional, physical and financial stress. You must notify numerous agencies, including the federal government. You do not need to report the death immediately to the Internal Revenue Service, as filing the decedent’s final tax return is considered appropriate notification. Typically, the surviving spouse is in charge of filing the final tax return, but if someone dies without a spouse, the court appoints a personal representative to oversee the estate or leaves the job to the next of kin.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Depending on the circumstances, a surviving spouse, personal representative or next of kin will need to contact the IRS when someone dies.
When your spouse dies during the tax year, you may claim married filing jointly at tax time. You may file a decedent’s tax return online or on paper. When filling out your tax forms online, make note on your return that your spouse is deceased. When filing on paper, write “Deceased” across the top of the tax document along with your spouse's name and date of death. According to the IRS, you do not need to file any additional forms to claim your refund when filing jointly with a deceased spouse.
According to the IRS, a personal representative is appointed by the court as the executor, administrator or person in charge of the decedent’s property. The executor is named in the person’s will. An administrator is named by the court when no will exists. The personal representative is in charge of filing the last tax return for the decedent. You must attach a copy of your court appointment to claim any refund due.
Next of Kin
When the estate has no money, the court might not become involved. In this instance, the next of kin is responsible for filing the final tax return for the decedent. Claiming a refund for the decedent without court documents requires Form 1310. You must provide the IRS with a copy of the death certificate or copy of the formal notification from the appropriate government office.
Do not file the original death certificate with the IRS. Keep the original for your records, and only attach copies if you are the deceased's next of kin. The spouse and personal representative do not need to attach a copy of the death certificate. If you are the surviving spouse, the IRS may issue the refund check in both of your names. In this situation, you can void the check and take it to your local IRS office, where you can fill out Form 1310 and request that the check be reissued in your name only.