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Understanding the estate tax closing letter timeline

If you have recently lost a loved one, you have likely been listed as an heir to their estate. Many heirs assume that the process of receiving their inheritance will be relatively smooth, however, this is not always the case. There are many administrative aspects to the processing of an estate that must take place before heirs can gain their inheritance.

Many estates must file a federal estate tax return. When this is the case, it's common for the estate to be frozen until the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has taken the time to examine and process the tax return. If you are waiting for this process to be completed, it may be helpful for you to understand the typical timeline.

The timeline for processing IRS Form 706

It is best to file IRS Form 706 as soon as possible after the decedent's death to maximize the efficiency of the process. The deadline to file the form is set to nine months after the date of death of the decedent. If the form is not filed within this time frame, it will be necessary to request a six-month extension. This can be done by making an application for extension using IRS Form 4768, Application for Extension of Time to File Estate Tax Return.

When IRS Form 706 is filed, it will take six to eight weeks for the IRS to process it. After this, it will take six to nine months for the IRS to issue a closing letter or to announce that an audit will take place.

If you are the executor of an estate, you should have a thorough understanding of issues relating to estate tax.

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