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Here's how you file a federal estate tax return number one it's not even necessary unless the person died with a gross estate exceeding the applicable estate tax exemption five million dollars this year 2012 scheduled to be 1 million dollars 2013 somebody dies with more than that what do you do the IRS doesn't come raid the house to see what was there it's the executor or trustees responsibility to make sure that the estate tax is voluntarily complied with here is what you do there's an IRS Form it's called IRS forms 706 it's the federal estate tax return you've got to get all the real estate appraised you've got to get all the banking records to show what was there on the date of death all the investment records to show the trading value as of the date of death you've got to get any kind of business appraised get the it's called a Form 7 Oh 12 7 12 from the life insurance company to show how much life insurance the deceased person owned got to get all that blue book the blue bow values for vehicles and really just a total listing of everything they own there's a certain format that all of that needs to be put into on the estate tax return you've got to go through all of those calculations you've got to make sure things are reported properly it's a 40 or 50 page return we often prepare that when we're helping a family settle a state we attach the real estate appraisals and all of that to the return make those calculations of tax gotta send all that in with the estate tax payment it's got to be in within nine months from the date the person died so that's what's involved with filing an estate tax return sometimes there are deductions that can eliminate tax the most common one is the called the marital deduction when you leave things to your spouse so sometimes that helps avoid tax so be aware there's some pretty stiff penalties for failing to file or filing late so jump right on it sometimes it's an area where it's kind of easy to procrastinate but that's going to be costly if you need help with that if you lived in Louisiana or if you live in Louisiana the decedent lived in Louisiana and you're concerned about avoiding estate tax or reporting estate tax you may want to give us a call at eight six six four nine one three eight eight four have a great day