If your father had unpaid income taxes, they will be taken from his estate. You will file a final return for him and this will capture the owed taxes before you even get the assets.
As far as the IRA, that thing is probably going to be taxed depending on what type it is. But if it is the type where no taxes were paid upon contribution, the IRA will be taxable and will not receive a stepped-up basis.
You have no responsiblity to pay anyone's income taxes but your own. I wouldn't recommend accepting appointment as executor of of your father's estate if there is nothing but liabilities in the estate. Pay the taxes on the IRA be done with this matter. See a probate attorney before you make any further decisions.
Phillip M. Smith Jr.
Los Angeles Business &Tax Attorney
Call: 855 IRS TAXBIZ
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I would add one more thing to the answers here and that is usually IRA's pass by beneficiary designation as opposed to being willed to someone. If that is the case here, it bypasses the probate estate and is only part of the estate for estate tax purposes. It may not be reachable by the IRS for income taxes that are past due or will be due in the future. Talk to a local probate and estate lawyer.
Hope this helps. If you think this post was helpful, please check the asnwer was a good answer tab below. Thanks. Mr. Geffen is licensed to practice law throughout the state of Texas with an office in Dallas. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States and is licensed to practice in US Tax Court as well as The Court of Claims. This answer is provided as a public service and as a general response to a general question, it is not meant, and should not be relied upon as specific legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.