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Estate Administrators May Need to File K-1 Tax Forms

How do you know you need to file K-1 tax forms?

Settling the affairs of a person who has died comes with a laundry list of responsibilities. Among the most important jobs of a personal representative of an estate or trustee of a trust is to ensure that all of the proper tax forms are filed correctly and on time. There are numerous potential tax-related tasks that may arise during this process. For example, estate income tax returns may need to be filed. One form that an estate administrator may be unfamiliar with is known as a K-1 tax form. This form is an important part of the administration of some estates.

What Is a K-1?

During the process of administering an estate or a trust, the estate or trust may earn income. If this income exceeds $600 in gross income in a year or if the estate or trust has a nonresident alien as a beneficiary, this income must be reported to the Internal Revenue Service on Form 1041, United States Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts. Depending on the facts and circumstances, the beneficiaries of the trust or estate may be entitled to receive this income. When that happens, income tax must be paid. The IRS wants to know what income was earned, what happened to that income, and who will be paying the tax. At the end of the year, all income distributions made to beneficiaries are therefore reported on Schedule K-1.

Many estate and trust administrators have no prior experience working with a Schedule K-1. The following is a general overview of how the Schedule K-1 works:

  1. A trust exists and one of its assets is a stock portfolio.
  2. This stock portfolio generates dividend income in a tax year.
  3. The terms of the trust states that the trustee must distribute all such income to the beneficiaries.
  4. At the end of the year, the trustee reports all of this dividend income on the trust’s Form-1041.
  5. The dividend income distributed to each beneficiary is listed on a Schedule K-1.
  6. A copy of the K-1 is given to each such beneficiary.
  7. Copies of these K-1s are attached to Form 1041 when the trustee submits it to the IRS.

Tax issues during a trust or estate administration are often complex and highly technical. Fortunately, you are entitled to seek guidance from an attorney, CPA, financial advisor, or other professional. We are here to provide the help you need. We encourage you to contact us today at (888) 443-6590 for more information.

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Scott Grossman

Scott Grossman


The Grossman Law Firm, APC · 525 B Street, Suite 1500, San Diego, CA 92101 · (951) 523-8307

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