The taxpayer's spouse or personal representative may have to file a return and sign it for the person who died (decedent) if the decedent was required to file a return. A personal representative can be an executor, administrator, or anyone who is in charge of the taxpayer's property. If the decedent did not have to file a return but either had State income tax withheld, made estimated tax payments, or is eligible for various tax credits, a return must be filed to get a refund.
If your spouse died in 2018 and you did not remarry, or if your spouse died in 2019 before filing a return for 2018, you may still file a joint return for the 2018 tax year. A return filed for a deceased taxpayer, including a joint return with a surviving spouse, must have the word "DECEASED" written in the upper left hand corner of the return. The word "DECEASED" and the date of death also must be written after the deceased taxpayer's first name and middle initial in the name and address area of the tax return.
Generally, the personal representative or other responsible individual must sign the return on behalf of the decedent. If a refund is due, Form 1310, Statement of Person Claiming Refund Due a Deceased Taxpayer, must be completed and attached to the return to ensure that the refund check will be issued in the name of the surviving spouse, personal representative, or other responsible individual instead of in the decedent's name. A personal representative or other individual may be required to attach other documents such as the death certificate. See Form 1310 for further information.
Exception for joint returns filed by surviving spouse. If a joint return is being filed by the decedent and the decedent's spouse, the spouse should write, "Filing as surviving spouse", on the signature line which the decedent would have signed, and then the surviving spouse should sign his or her name on the other signature line. If a refund is being claimed on the return, Form 1310 is not required. The refund check will be issued to the surviving spouse.