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Father owed IRS $50,000. What monies are considered part of the estate?

Two Rivers, WI |

My dad passed owing IRS $50000. He was in the Army for 20 yrs and worked for the DOD when he died. I will be receiving $43000 in life insurance, $3000 for unused sick and vacation, an unknown amount from his FERS retirement account, $1300 in a Thrift Savings Plan, and a lump sum for premiums paid into his Survivor Benefit Plan. He had no beneficiaries listed so it is split between me and my brother due to the order of precedence. I know the IRS can't touch the life insurance but not sure about the rest. I try to talk to them but keep getting transfered to other people who tell me to send it all in. Does this money go to us or to his estate? He had no will and only $3400 in his bank account. Looking for advice before I retain a lawyer.

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Attorney answers 4


Except for the life insurance, most or all of that money belongs to the estate. Since you'll be getting a windfall from the life insurance, consider spending a little of it talking to a lawyer. It's very likely you'll decide to take the insurance money (and probably the survivor's benefits) and do nothing else. The heirs of the estate aren't liable for the decedent's debts. You're not required to probate his assets. Unless there are other assets, there may be no reason for you to open probate.

Rani K. Sampson (509) 663-5588 is a Washington attorney whose clients ask her to solve problems and negotiate difficult situations in real estate development, business formation and operation, estate planning, probate administration, and other matters. All answers are for educational purposes and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question.


I agree with Ms. Sampson and think you should spend a little money and talk to a local attorney.

Hope this helps. If you think this post was helpful, please check the answer 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.


It sounds like the life insurance money should be yours. The rest of it sounds like it will probably go to the IRS and/or any other creditors. You could hire an attorney to investigate the matter and this may or may not turn out to be a good investment.

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It depends on the state. In Ohio, creditors can only touch assets that go through Probate Court. Things like life insurance that name beneficiaries do not go through Court. It all depends on if there is s named beneficiary or not.

Please remember that I have provided general legal advice and have not agreed to represent you in this matter.