Tax Break For Widows

Question Tax Breaks for WidowsI was widowed in 1998, and a friend told me she heard there are some tax breaks for widows. Can you help?

 

AnswerYes. As a widow, you may file a joint return for 1998. In addition, if you still have a dependent child at home, you may use the joint return rates for 1999 and 2000 as well. And if you and your husband owned rental property, don’t forget that it qualifies for a step-up in tax basis to its value at the date of his death. That means more depreciation currently, and less taxable gain when you sell it. This also applies to other appreciated assets, such as stock and mutual funds.

 

QuestionWhen my husband died, I collected some life insurance. Should I pay off the car, house and credit cards, or should I invest it?

 

AnswerFirst, set aside an emergency fund (generally three to six months’ expenses). Then pay off your non-deductible car loan and credit card debt. If the interest rate on your home mortgage is less than you can earn on investments (about 8-10%), keep the loan and invest your money for income or long-term growth, depending on your needs.

 

QuestionI am a 62-year-old widow and I am collecting social security benefits
based on my deceased husband’s earnings. I’d like to remarry, but I don’t want to lose those benefits. A friend told me that happened to her mother. Is that true?

 

AnswerFortunately, your benefits will continue even after you remarry. In the bad old days, widows did lose their benefits upon remarriage, so a lot of seniors began living together instead. Congress mended that rip in our nation’s moral fabric in 1984.

 

QuestionMy husband died recently. He never discussed his financial affairs with me, but he always told me I’d be taken care of. I think he meant there was life insurance, but I don’t know what life insurance policies he owned. How can I make sure I’ve collected all the insurance benefits due me?

 

AnswerWrite to the American Council of Life Insurance, Policy Search Dept., 1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20004. Request a missing policy search form and enclose a legal-size self-addressed, stamped envelope. When you return the complete form, they will send it to the life underwriters who are members of the Council. Those companies will search their files to see if your husband was covered by a life insurance policy issued by them. This search will take about three months.


Comments

  1. Julianna H. Annarella says:

    I am a senior,retired widow and just re-located to California from Las Vegas, NV to be near family. Am I allowed to deduct my moving expenses on my Federal Tax Return? (or is moving expenses tax deductible just for job relocation? What taxes am I allowed to deduct on my Federsal Tax Return? (other than medical, donations)? Are sending faxes for my lease tax deductible? Please let me know. Also, how long does one have to reside in a State to pay their State taxes? In my case the State is California. Thank you. Julianna H. Annarella

    • Julianna, Moving expenses are deductible if you are employed full time for most of the year following the move. Expenses in connection with obtaining personal housing aren’t deductible either. To see a listing of what’s deductible, go to IRS.gov and look at Form 1040, Schedule A. But remember, if you don’t itemize you’ll still get a standard deduction of $5,950, even more if you are over 65. And finally, you are taxed by the state in which you reside, so if you move to California intending to be a resident, your income from that day forward is taxed by California.

  2. My husbend just pass on the 17 of oct. He was a retired man from the military. I want to kno if i keep is monthly benefits. Or what should i do. I dnt wanna get in to trouble.
    Ty.

    • I mean his retired monthly benefits or do i return them?. We were married for 36 years.

    • Oh, I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. I hope you are getting comfort and help from those around you who love you and your family. The first thing to do is to call 800-321-1080 to report the death of your husband. Since his entitlement to retirement pay ends on the date of his death, when his death is reported, DFAS will take back his final month’s pay and compute the amount of the payment actually owed to you as his beneficiary. If you have more questions, you can ask them when you call to report his death.

  3. Patricia Hanes says:

    My husband passed away he was 68 years old. I was told I could draw widow’s pention when I become 60 years old, how much do you usaually get from this.I have 4 years to wait I’m just curious. thank you

    • I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. If you wait to collect widow’s benefits from social security until you are 66, you can get 100% of the benefits your husband had earned. You can begin drawing reduced social security widow’s benefits at age 60 of about 70% of what you would get if you wait until age 66.

  4. Marion Marianse says:

    Is there any way that I can reduce the taxes I pay on my deceased husband’s pension? He worked for 25 years for the phone company in Massachusetts.
    If I move to Nevada, can I eliminate paying taxes on his pension?
    Is there any way to lower the taxes that I pay as a widow on my deceased husband’s pension?
    Can I collect social security benefits as well as his pension now that I am a widow?
    Thank You

    • Do contact the Social Security Administration by calling 1-800-772-1213, and inquire about collecting on your husband’s social security record. Hopefully you are due back benefits as well as benefits going forward.

      If you move to a state without an income tax such as Nevada, you won’t be paying state income tax any longer, but you will still owe federal income taxes on your income.

  5. Marion Marianse says:

    I am now 70 years old and collecting my husband’s pension. He died at age 60 9 years ago.
    Please refer to my earlier message ….from Marion Marianse.
    Thank you

  6. My husband passed at53 in april. No pension I have one 17 year old and a21year old in college. 17 get benefits 21 year old doesnt and is a full time college student. Will make lress than 35000 in 2012. How do I file to get most refund back. Would like to pay off funeral. Still owe 3500. One life insurance policy paid 5000 off and used it directly to funeral. Where dimo i go for advice?

    • I’m so sorry to hear of your husband’s passing. For 2012 you can file a joint tax return with your deceased husband, and for 2013 and 2014 you can file as “surviving spouse”. Both of those filing statuses use the “married filing jointly” tax rates, which will be most favorable for you.

      • I stumbled upon this website while searching how to file next year. My husband died in April of 2012 and I knew I had to file as married jointly this year but I didn’t know about the surviving spouse status for the next 2 years. Thank you!!!

  7. I started collecting on my own social security at age 62. When my husband passes can I still collect on his Social Security benefits which are much more than my own as I took early Social Security or will I be penalized because I started collecting on my own at 62 years of age?
    He is still employeed and in addition collecting his own Social Security presently – he’s 67 years old.and I am 66.
    Thanks

  8. My husband passed away in april 2012. How do i file for income tax? Do i have to claim life insurance that i recieved? Also he worked up until he passed away. How does that work?

    • Sonya, I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. You can file a joint tax return with your deceased husband — you will sign your name twice, once on the line for his signature, with the notation “Attorney in fact”, and once on the line for your name. Life insurance proceeds aren’t taxable, but if there was a delay in you receiving the payout and the insurance company paid you interest, they will be sending you a 1099-INT form telling you how much interest to report. His wages will be reported on the line of the tax return that says “wages” – - you should receive a W-2 from his employer.

      • My husband died July 2012. I filed my 2012 taxes as married filing jointly. I tried to file qualifying widower this time but it was rejected because we don’t have children. I get retirement and social security. So how do I file my 2013 taxes?

  9. my husband died Dec.24th 2009. I am a Dential Hygienist ,now 49 years old. I have a pretty good job, why can I not collect my husbands social security till I am 60.? Is what I was told…and when I retire, want I be collecting my social security that I’ve paid in? Where does his go that he paid in to for 25 yrs?

    • The earliest age at which you can receive widow’s benefits is age 60. Remember those benefits are for retirement, which is why the social security system has them beginning when people are 62 — for widow’s that date is lowered to age 60, and if you collect before age 65, the benefits are reduced. If you earn more than $15,120 a year, the benefits will be reduced further by $1 for every $2 your earn over $15,120, so if you are still working you likely should delay collecting benefits until age 65. You can collect your own benefits when you retire, but you can’t double up — you’ll get whichever record gives you more. It may pay you to continue getting your widow’s benefits but delay collecting your own benefits until age 70, which will increase your benefits by 8% per year you delay over age 66, so that would be another 32% added to your benefits. That would be a good strategy if your enhanced benefits would exceed your widow’s benefits.

  10. My husband passed in July 2012.. He was on social security for kidney failure. He was 53. Does SSI send me a w2 for his SSI received up to his death? I received one for the one month of benefits for July 2012.
    Can I claim his medical bills? Thks.

    • I’m so sorry for your recent loss. You should have received a reporting form SSA-1099 already — perhaps that’s the one you say you’ve received. You can file a joint tax return with him for 2012 and claim his medical bills on that tax return, to the extent they exceed 7.5% of your total income. You’ll sign that joint return twice — one on the line for his signature, signing your name followed by “attorney in fact”, and once on the line for your own signature.

  11. Hi..My husband passed Sept 2011. I received workers comp widows pension and filed our taxes for 2012 jointly. I don’t work and am 59 yrs old. I now own our two propertys both rentals one is rent to own and handled via a realestate agent. The other property is not and I don’t know if I file taxes on any of this. Please inform me what to do.
    Thanks
    Lee

    • You will file your own tax returns for 2012 and future years, and you will report your widows pension, rental incomeon the properties less expenses paid out on them, and all other income and deductions that you have. If you still have minor children in your home, you can use the joint tax tables for 2012 and 2013 — otherwise you will use the single tables. A competent tax preparer can help you assemble the documentation you need and prepare the return.

  12. Sunshine A says:

    My husband passed in Aug 2012. I’ve received several notices from debtors for cancellation of debt (Sallie Mae & higher education), I thought these debts were forgiven upon death? I’m under the impression that ill need to file jointly this year & as a surviving spouse for the next two years, is that the way it has to be done?

  13. My husband passed away suddenly in December of 2012. His wages and Social Security (he was 69) were our only source of income as I am a housewife. We had no life insurance and the survivor Soc. Sec. payments won’t begin until I’m 60 (2 more years). We have a mortgage that is not backed by government programs and I have not been able to make the payments. We had never been late or missed a payment for the life of the loan. I managed to find a part time job and my husband had a small IRA. I asked them to modify my existing loan, but they are unresponsive and just keep demanding payment. Is there any organization out there I can contact to help me understand exactly what kind of options I may have in this situation?

  14. My husband became extremely depressed and chemically dependent. We seperated in April 2012. I and our two young children moved out. I filed for divorce and we were set to have our court hearing in November 2012. He lost his job in May – they said they eliminated his job and laid him off (he got severance and was able to collect unemployment), but we all knew it was because he was unable to perform his job duties. In July, he took $64,000 out of his 401K to live on. He spent some of it, sent some of it to me for child support, and then ultimately mailed me a check for $27,000 the day that he killed himself in October 2012. We were technically still married, not legally seperated or divorced. My understanding is that I have to pay his income taxes for 2012 including the early withdrawal penalty on his 401K. This is costing me $15,000 total. I thought I heard something about being able to avoid the penalty if you are on unemployment for 12 weeks or something, but my husband was too disabled by his depression to file for unemployment regularly. He only collected $1500 in unemployment, which I think is about five weeks. I really appreciate any advice you can give me! I want to avoid paying his early withdrawal penalty if at all possible. Thank you!

    • There is no exception to penalties for unemployment. Here are the exceptions the IRS lists at its website:
      The following six exceptions apply to distributions from any qualified retirement plan:
      •Distributions made to your beneficiary or estate on or after your death.
      •Distributions made because you are totally and permanently disabled.
      •Distributions made as part of a series of substantially equal periodic payments over your life expectancy or the life expectancies of you and your designated beneficiary. If these distributions are from a qualified plan other than an IRA, you must separate from service with this employer before the payments begin for this exception to apply.
      •Distributions to the extent you have deductible medical expenses (medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income), whether or not you itemize your deductions for the year. For more information on medical expenses, refer to Topic 502.
      •Distributions made due to an IRS levy of the plan under section 6331.
      •Distributions that are qualified reservist distributions. Generally, these are distributions made to individuals that are called to active duty for at least 180 days after September 11, 2001.

      Since there is no exception to the penalties, you should explore whether you really owe his taxes. You were separated, so you could file your own return as head of household, and his return could be filed as married filing separately. His taxes would be due from the assets in his estate. If he had no assets at the time of his death, then the government would be out of luck. But reading between the lines of your message, it appears he might have had money remaining in his 401(k) at the time of his death, and so those funds would have to be used to settle the government claim.

      • Thank you for your thoughtful and researched response.

        So the money left in his 401K would be considered part of his estate even if I was listed as the beneficiary? I didn’t know that. I’ve already had that money transferred to my name.

        I just figured as Wisconsin is a shared property marital state that I would be held responsible for his debts, including taxes, upon his death. Since we weren’t legally seperated.

  15. My husband passed suddenly December 2012, he filed bankruptcy, I did not. The bankruptcy held up the foreclosure, I house is and has been up for sale. I was working on getting requesting a “Short Sale from the bank”. I have not disclose to the bank that he died because his bankruptcy was discharged, Am I in trouble, someone said I will be in trouble. We had joint survivor-ship on the property.

  16. Rachael says:

    HI,

    I am advising a friend on her 2012 taxes. She became widowed in November of 2012. She and her husband owned a business together, and in the absence of his guidance, she did not file 1099s for herself (main employee) or one other non-employee (maybe $5000 in income). Shall I have her contact the IRS immediately? Any other benefits I may be missing, as in funeral expenses….

  17. Hi, I was recently widowed in January 2013. I have 5 children…22, 20 (severe Autism), 18, 10, 8. He was a business owner with his father. I have not worked out of the home in over 10 years. I need some advice on how and if I should file income taxes for 2012. He was very sick the entire year. He did show earnings of $40K for the year. His father keeps me in “the dark” most of the time. I am very worried about what to do at this point.

    • For 2012 you can file a joint tax return. You can sign it as yourself and on his behalf by signing your name, followed by “attorney in fact”. For 2013 and 2014 you will file your own tax return but you will use the joint tax rates as a surviving spouse, which will reduce your taxes.

  18. my husband died in 2003 and i herd that i should be getting a widows rebate. i don’t have any taxes from the past. i’m on disabilty. i do get a renter rebate how would i go about getting a widows rebate if i even quilfie

    • I’m not familiar with a widows rebate — perhaps it is a program in your state. Ask the person who told you about it for more details, or call 211 if that’s available in your area and ask them if they’ve heard of it.

  19. My father passed away in 95 and my family has been under stress since. Ive been trying to research 2 things to help our situation,

    1. Is there a way to prevent someone from opening up credit cards? Like power of attorney? My mom keeps opening up cards and piling on debt. (This one is off topic so I understand if you’re unsure)

    2. Is there a property tax break on our house for a widow? My mom said she saw it somewhere one time but I cant find it. We also need to appeal the value of our house because at this point, they expect us to pay 13,000 in property taxes this year and we cant afford it. we tried to file an appeal but they said it was too late this year.

    I feel like these might be off topic, but you have a lot of knowledge so any feedback would be helpful. My mom is a widow with nine children so we are trying to help the best we can.

    Thank you
    W

    • If your mom is incompetent to handle her own affairs, you might be able to be appointed as her guardian. But if she simply has poor money management skills, then I don’t know what you can do. The credit card companies will eventually catch on that she has too much debt compared to income and/or can’t meet the payments, and they will then quit giving her new cards — that’s the theory, anyway. Call the assessors office to inquire about any widow’s tax break that might be available in your locale. There isn’t one where I live

  20. ,My husband died from a disease he caught as a paramedic/firefighter from a patient, in July 2011. I was disabled in January 2010. We have a mortgage, a loan for $50,000 worth of credit card bills and a credit card that he got in both our names, without my knowledge. They are all from the same bank. I do get a small income from his work at a county and my social security. My youngest son was 17 at the time and wanted all of his senior things. I used my husband’s $10,000 death insurance to pay for his funeral, which cost close to $7,000. The rest used to help pay the mortgage and the loan. I use my social security to pay my other bills; water,electricity,gas,telephone, and some food. My older son was taking care of me, as I’m totally disabled; need help to get on the toilet, shower, bed and getting food prepared for me, and I’m in a wheelchair. My husband did take $7,000 out of his retirement before his death, which I used for the mortgage payments and the loan. I haven’t paid on the credit card as of yet. My oldest son went a technical school,so I have an old,dear friend helping me since my son left. I can’t even pay him any money. Please help me if you can! Now I’m at the point where I can’t pay my mortgage,loan, and other bills, including gas to the doctors I have to see. Thank you, Lori

  21. My dear husband was active duty Army with 20 years of service when he died in December 2012. We for the most part, we lived in military housing, and the times we lived in civilian quarters, the rental contract was based on his credit, his service, etc. Now, that he is gone, I am currently living with my parents and need to rent an apartment. Problem is, I don’t have a rental history, I also have not had paid employment since 2009. I have been reading about no credit check apartments, but for what you get for that, are places I would be afraid to live in by myself. What can I do? I want a really nice apartment that is not in a high crime area. I have the means to pay, but I am unemployed.

  22. My husband has a small construction business and we want to hire an accountant to help with the bookwork and
    keeping things in order. I have no idea where to start and I dont
    want to just pick someone out of the phone book. We dont want
    to trust just anyone with our finances and the getting
    everything done properly. Any ideas?.

  23. hi, hope yoy can help!!! i became disabled at the age of 61, was divorced from my husband in 1976, they told me i could collect from his money, no mention of a pension widows!!! i got the difference of his check and mine in 2007!! now i read in the newspaper that i could get his pension from social secerity, because i am 70 years old now ,a new law is this true??? they said up to 2/3 of his check??? also i am perm. and totally disabled!!! and suppoted his two children on my own for years, they were 7 and 9 years old at that time i became disabled in 2004, the support from me was from 1976 until 1988 hope you can give me some answers, i went to s.s. office and they said they can not afford to pay me widows pension?? if you can not help i will call an atty, but i really can not afford one thank again kathleen e. herlihy

    • If you were married to your former husband for at least 10 years, you can collect divorced spouse benefits equal to 1/2 of what he receives. If he has died, you are eligible for widow’s benefits based on his history. If you are receiving a government pension of any sort (school system, city, county, state, federal employment, etc) then those benefits will be offset by 2/3 of that government pension. If you are entitled to the benefits, you should receive them. Whether or not social security can afford to pay those benefits is not relevant to your situation.

  24. denop1015 says:

    My mom collects widow benefits from my father who passed away three years ago.She has property that she is thinking of selling. How will this affect her social security benefits? She will be 65 in acouple of months and will be eligible for full benefits.

  25. I have been widowed since 2004. I left my late husbands stock and 401k alone. Did not even send in. DCertif. I now know I am a victim of ID theft by changing my middle name. Do you think everything is still in place? I am the administrator of the estate. I’m afraid.
    Kim

    • I don’t know whether everything is still in place, but I know one way to find out — contact the 401(k) plan administrator or his employer to find out. Don’t be afraid to do that — worrying about it is far more painful that taking that step.

  26. I HAVE A QUESTION MY HUSBAND PASSES AWAY IN SEPT 2012, I WAS TOLD THAT HE DIDNT PUT ENOUGH CREDITS IN TO COLLECT SOCIAL SECURITY EVEN THO HE PAID TAXES FOR THE FULL 10 YEARS WE WHERE TOGETHER SO THAT DIDNT MAKE SENSE TO ME, THEN I WAS TOLD SOMETHING ABOUT FILING TAXES MARRIED FILING JOINTLY RIGHT NOW I HAVE MY TAXES SET TO SINGLE, DO I NEED TO CHANGE THIS? IM COMPLETELY CONFUSED I AM A VERY YOUNG WIDOW AT THE AGE OF 35 ANY INFORMATION WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED, THANK YOU, THERE WAS NO LIFE INSURANCE SO I PAYED ALL FUNERAL EXSPENSES MYSELF WHICH HAS BEEN DIFFICULT IS THERE ANY HELP OUT THERE FOR ME SINCE I AM A WIDOW NOW? THERE IS ALSO ONE CHILD IN THE HOME, THAT WASNT BIOLOGICALY MY HUSBAND’S BY HE DID FINANCIALLY SUPPORT HIM FOR THE 10 YEARS WE WHERE TOGETHER..

  27. MY HUSBAND PAID FEDERAL TAXES ON HIS WAGES HIS ENTIRE LIFE. I RECENTLY FILED FOR WIDOWS SOCIAL SECURITY AND AM CURRENTLY WORKING. I WON’T RECEIVE A BENEFIT CHECK UNTIL FEBRUARY 2014 AND PLAN ON WORKING AS LONG AS I CAN. I CAN ‘T COMPREHEND WHY I WOULD BE RESPONSIBLE TO PAY FEDERAL TAXES ON WAGES THAT MY HUSBAND ALREADY PAID DURING HIS LIFETIME. I’M JUST CHECKING INTO THIS SITUATION AND FIND THIS UNBELIEVABLE. I HOPE I’M WRONG. I’M GOING TO HAVE TO DO SOME MORE RESEARCH BEFORE I GET TOO UPSET.

  28. My husband died May of 2013, I received his retirement as his beneficiary and paid the 20% federal taxes on it. I placed it in a savings account, do I have to claim this as income when I file my taxes this year?

    • Yes. The 20% in taxes you paid was federal withholding tax. You will claim the income and the withholding tax on your federal tax return. If the taxes exceed the withholding, there will be additional tax due. If the taxes are less, then you will get a refund.

  29. Hello,
    My father passed away in November, 2013, I’m trying to help out my 70-year-old mother with several forms. As my father never discussed death, taxes, and finances, my mom and I are having a difficult time now. As a state employee retiree, my father received a monthly pension. My mother received a letter stating that, under the provisions of the program, she will receive a lump sum of $1,000, which is subject to federal income tax, in addition to a reduced monthly pension. They sent her some forms to complete, including the lump sum application and a Form W-4P (Election for Federal Income Tax Withholding). The letter also contains information that the $1,000 lump sum is eligible for rollover in an IRA.

    I’m confused about the W-4P form and what this is for. I was able to find the 2012 tax returns and all I’m able to find regarding his pension is that he filled out a 1040 and then a withholding from 1099-R distributions. Does she need to fill out the W-4P form because of the lump sum or because of the pension? If it’s because of the pension, wouldn’t that have been filled out previously OR is it because the pension amount is now modified? If she rolls over the $1,000 lump sum into an IRA, does she still fill out the W-4P form?

    If she rolls over the $1,000 lump sum into an IRA, does she roll it into an IRA that was in HER name, one that was in both their names, or does it matter?

    Related, I know that, as she is now 70 ½, she has to make a minimum withdrawal from her IRAs. If she rolls over the $1,000 into an IRA, does this affect the minimum withdrawal requirement?

    Thank you in advance!

    • If your mom needs the $1000 now, she can keep it and pay tax on it. If she doesn’t need it now, she should roll it over into an IRA in her own name. That way, she’ll delay taxation until she takes withdrawals. Along with any other IRAs she has, it will be subject to minimum withdrawal requirements at age 70-1/2, and having that extra $1000 in her IRA will increase her required minimum withdrawals by about $40.

      The pension payments she receives (and the $1000 lump sum if not rolled over) are subject to tax. If she would like them to withhold taxes before she receives it, as is done for employee wages, then she’ll need to complete the Form W-4P. When she files her annual tax return on Form 1040, she’ll report the pension payments, lump sum (if not rolled over) and the withholding, and she’ll either break even, owe additional taxes, or be eligible for a refund, depending on her filing status and deductions. If she does not complete the W-4P form, they won’t take out any taxes — in that case, she’ll owe all the taxes with her tax return, plus a small penalty for not having paid the taxes in over the year. To avoid that she could file quarterly estimated tax vouchers sending in 1/4 of the taxes she estimates she’ll owe for the year.

      The simplest thing for her to do is to file the Form W-4P, so they take out taxes and she doesn’t have to worry about estimated tax penalties and large tax payments and penalties each spring when she files her tax return.

  30. I’ve become a widow in 2008 and currently working fulltime. I plan to work until I turn 60 so I can collect my husband’s SS benefits and delay mine for max. My youngest son graduated from UCR last Qtr. He’ll teach English part time while doing his master program in Bangkok Thailand for the next 2 years. I’d like to claim him as my dependent until he turns 26 because I may need to financially support with tuition. Can you please advise what I should do with my son’s situation and my retirement plan? What I can do to minimize taxes? Thank you

    • In order to claim your son as dependent, he must live in your home and have minimal earnings, or be udner 24 and be a full-time student for at least 5 months of the year. As for your retirement plan, I don’t know quite what you are asking — in general it is best to delay taking payments as long as you can, leaving more for your old old age, but each situation is different. You should probably consult with a tax accountant or financial advisor.

  31. My husband died December 2012, we did not have kids. Should I file as a single or as a widowed?
    Thank for your help!

  32. Betty Stanton says:

    My husband died in March 2013. He was a retired government Employee & I a retired RN. I recieve my own Soc Sec payments as it was more than hisI. recieve a sm amt of gov.pension he left for me that pays Medicare assis Blue Cross. He had an Ira that was invested under 1 bank but divided into several cos.One of these allowed a death benefit I applied for it & rec’d benefit. I immed. took this to my bank to open an IRA with grown children as beneficiarys. Will I have to pay tax on this because it went thru my hands even if I prove it went into IRA? Rest of his IRA went directly to my bank as part of the new IRA?

    • As a surviving spouse, you have one option that nobody else has: rolling over inherited IRA assets into your own IRA and treating these assets as if they were your own. Since the funds went into the IRA without delay, you should be fine. You can ask the bank to verify this with their legal department.

  33. My husband and I are living totally on Social Security. We pay out a lot of interest each year on our house mortage. Since neither of us are working can we still file income tax return to get part of the interest back? I have heard that we could but can find no information on this subject. Thanks!

    Also to the ladies who are wondering about drawing your husbands SS: My husband is 17 years older than me and has been retired since he was 62, he is now 82. I just turned 65 and signed up for my SS at 62. When I signed up they recomended that I draw off my husbands SS instead of mine because I would draw more, and it does not take away from the amount that he is drawing. Another benefit of that is, if he passes away before me I am automatically signed up for widows SS with full benefits and don’t have to do anything.

    • If you have paid estimated taxes or had taxes withheld from an income source, you can file a tax return claiming your interest and other itemized deductions and may qualify for a refund. But if you haven’t paid any taxes into the system, it is doubtful that you can get a refund, since there is nothing to refund.

      Since you filed for benefits at age 62, Social Security Admin gave you the maximum that you were entitled to — there was no choice to be made, so their “recommendation” was simply telling you what was required. Fortunately, it was the best “choice” for you anyway, so a win-win all around.

  34. My income is from my husbands life insurance policy. There was a small amount of interest (1099-INT).
    Do I have to file a 1040 form to report that amount.
    Thanks

  35. Marcus & Joyce Horness says:

    My dear Husband is 83 yrs. old. I adore him and would keep him forever, but am also concerned should I survive him, as to how we should handle this now. I am 73 years old. He has kidney failure. I am concerned with the best way to handle his life Insurance, and his annuities, Iras and other money he has set aside. Also we have not put my name on the house. We have been married 19 years. I am listed as beneficiary on all of his money. He wants me to give his grown children a specified amount on his death and keep them listed as benif., to get the money on my death. Is this the best way to keep from giving all of his money to the government?
    Thank you

    • Unless his estate is more than $5.125 million, he won’t be giving his money to the government when he dies, since the estate tax only applies to estates above that amount. But you do need to get the advice of an estate planning attorney to see what is the best way to make sure that his intentions are carried out upon his death. He needs a will (and so do you) and possibly a trust as well. The attorney can also advise you on the best way to title the house so you don’t go through onerous probate that ties up the house with needless red tape proceedings.

  36. My husband passed away and I am beneficiary on his life insurance. I am disable and receive Social Security Disability. How will this affect my social security disability ? Thanks for any help you can give me.

  37. I have been a widow since 2007. How do I find out when I can collect my husband pension? When can I collect social security?

    • To find out about your husband’s pension, contact the plan administrator at his employment. You can begin collecting reduced social security at age 60, but if you wait until you are 66 you’ll get full benefits.

  38. My husband died March 2014. He was 55 I am 51. Can I take 401k money out to pay towards mortgage? What taxes and penalty will be incurred? Or, because I am the beneficiary of his accounts and a widow is there no penalty?

    • If the 401(k) was in his name and you have received it as his beneficiary, then you can take money out or roll it into your IRA. If you take money out rather than rolling it into your IRA, there will be no penalty, but you will have to pay taxes.

  39. My husband died in 2012. We have a home mortgage that we got in 2009. His name is the only name on the loan, but I am assuming we are both on the deed. I have nor informed the lender that he is deceased, but have been making the payments as always. Now, I need to sell the house, because I want to move close to my sister. What are the steps needed to sell our home?

  40. Hi, my name is Mona, and my husband passed away on March 24th of 2014. He was 70 years old, I will be 66 in August. We’ve been separated since 1984, and never got divorced, so I was eligible for his annuity, as told by his will. The annuity will be for $1000 p/m, but it is to be divided with myself and the 4 children, which is 5 in all. I live in Mass., my husband lived in RI, and 2 children live in RI, and 2 in Mass. The annuity will be coming in my name only, and then I’m supposed to divvy it up evenly, 1/5th to everyone. Now comes the tax problem: I’m retired , and am collecting his Social Security Retirement for life, along with my retirement. Now, is this annuity of $1000 p/m taxable ? If so, should I take the taxes out before I divvy it out evenly, because if it is taxable, why should I pay all the taxes at the end of the year ? This is a very stressful problem for me, and don’t know what to do. Can you lead me the right direction . PLEASE !!! – The children want there money, and keep asking about it, I still didn’t receive the first month yet . But, before it comes, I need answers to give them as far as how much, if any, taxes to take out . Thank you, a very desperate, Mona

  41. I am a widow since 2004. I started receiving my own Social Sec. Disability in 2005. We were married almost 20 yrs. I get a disability check monthly on my own earnings and I get another monthly check from my deceased husbands earnings, not sure I understand it all but it is what they do. I am now 65 years old and was told when I am 66 my SSD will convert over to regular Social Security. It is a little confusing and I am not sure if I then lose the part from my deceased husband (although SS office told me the amount would stay the same). I am not sure if this stays under my own earnings or if I can at age 66 change over to my deceased husbands benefits as he earned more than I did while working? I live in the state of PA not sure if that matters or not.
    Thank You,
    Pattie

    • Don’t overthink this, and let Social Security do their job. They will pay you the highest amount you are entitled to, and it shouldn’t matter to you whether it is based on your own earnings or your deceased spouse’s earnings. What is probably happening now is that you are getting SSD plus enough of your spouse’s SS to equal what you’d get as a widow getting SS alone. When your SSD converts to SS you’ll continue getting the same amount, but it will all be widow’s benefits.

  42. My friends husband passed away over 3 years ago. She was told that she does not have to pay property taxes on their home because of a widow law tax. So she has not payed any taxes on it, but I have researched it and cannot find a law that supports this. Is this a real tax break, or is someone trying to steal her property from her?

  43. Jennifer B says:

    My husband died and my name is on the house. Can I pay off the house with his life insurance money and then divide the rest up between the benifieiries since it was one of his dept?

    • If your husband named you as beneficiary of his life insurance, then those funds are yours to do with as you please. If the house was held in joint tenancy, then it goes to you upon his death, subject to the debt. So in that case you could use the life insurance to pay off the mortgage, since both would belong to you.

      If your home was not in joint tenancy, then it passes to his beneficiaries in according with his will, or if he didn’t have a will, in accordance with state law. In that case you’ll need to talk to an attorney to see what you receive. If other beneficiaries will be co-owners of the home with you, then you could use the life insurance to buy out their share, if that makes sense financially.

  44. Luisa Esposito says:

    hi,
    I am a widow since 2008. my husband told me I could claim his ss benefit 5 years after his passing. I am 53 turning 54 in September. how can i claim my ss benefit he left me after working more than 30 y ears.?
    Please, help me.
    Luisa

  45. My Husband just passed away we was on social security to pay our bills from one month to another he had a small life insurance policy do i use that money to live on or do i have to pay to try to his hospital bills from it ,he had cancer and owes thousands of dollars in hospital bills ?theres not enough money from his life insurance to even pay small amounts of all of his bill ?I dont know where to start !

    • The life insurance money belongs to you if you were the beneficiary of the policy. If he alone was responsible for the hospital bills (you didn’t sign anything saying you accepted liability) then you don’t have to pay his bills. They will try to get you to pay, but just tell them they have to show you something that says you were liable to pay them. They will ask how much was in his estate (bank account, etc) but the life insurance proceeds are not a part of his estate — they belong to you as beneficiary.

      • Ginita ,Thank you so much i appreciate you answering me so quickly i have been worried to death about all of this ,there was so many people that tried to tell me i had to take his life insurance what is left after funeral expenses and pay those bills ,i knew it wouldn’t even make a dent in all of those bills and not to be selfish i wouldn’t have a penny to live on ,they are starting to make me feel like i am being selfish trying to keep money for myself and thats not the case by no means, Thank you so much for your help . .

      • Dear Ginita,

        Being widowed since 2010 I have been paying my late husband’s medical bills for medical care which proved to not be beneficial to his survival. At first I was a bit angered, needlessly sad, but he begged me not to pursue any lawsuits against his ill-mannered, uncaring cardiologist. I agreed for the sake of the children and the knowledge that God sees and knows all. However, since his passing the local hospital has relentlessly pressured me to pay his medical bills. Upon me going in to the billing office years ago and making arrangements to make monthly payments I was told that there was no discount for widows and especially since I had insurance. The billing clerk went on to say that if I could afford insurance I could afford the medical bills so no discount was offered even though I am self employed at my late husband’s small business, now paying an employee to fulfill his duties which has cut household income by more than half, and truthfully I am surviving on the children’s social security benefits. With one child already over 18 and no longer receiving SSI and the second about to be 18 that assistance will be drastically cut again. I am worried about being able to pay my monthly bills including a mortgage, utilities, food, etc. I know my vehicle is beginning to act up and with a designated $50 per month for medical bills and little to no savings (not even enough to survive more than a month) I am very worried. My question is am I truly obligated to pay his medical bills after his death. I’ve received mixed advice about this but continued paying because I was raised to pay my debts and be a responsible, respectful human.

        • You need to talk to an attorney about your obligation to pay the medical bills. You will probably be told that you are liable if you signed something agreeing that you were liable at the time he received service, or if he had assets when he died that you inherited (house, bank account, etc). If he didn’t own anything and you didn’t sign anything, then I’m guessing you aren’t liable, but I’m not an attorney qualified to give legal advice, so that’s just a personal opinion.

  46. Christina says:

    Hello, I was separated (not legally but different residences etc) for almost 12 years and my estranged husband recently passed away. I know that our daughter is eligible for survivor benefits through social security and have applied for them but, I am not sure what to do with things like his taxes. As far as I know he had not worked in two years but did not file taxes last year although he had two dependants (disabled family members that lived with him & he provided care for). I’m not sure if I even need to attempt to file taxes for him.

  47. I’m 52. My 54-year old husband passed away in March. During most of our married life together, he made more than I did, but clearly I’m working a longer period of time than he did. I understand you can begin taking ss at 60, and are entitled to a one time switch. At 60, am I allowed to take his ss benefit, keep working, then take my ss benefit at 67? I’m assuming a cap on how much I can earn if I do this.

    • If you take his benefits at age 60, they will be reduced by 28.5% because you started early, and your own benefits will also be reduced by 28.5% when you switch over to those benefits at your full retirement age.. Your benefits before age 67 will further be reduced by $1 for every $2 you earn over $15,000 or so. So for example if your survivor benefits would be $2,000 a month at age 66, they will be only $1,430 if you take them at age 60. If you earn $30,000, your benefits will further be reduced by $7,500 a year, which is $625 a month, so you’ll end up with only $805 a month. And your benefits will be forever reduced by 28.5% because you began collecting before age 66. That likely will result in you getting less over your lifetime than you would have received if you had waited until full retirement age to collect.

  48. Christine says:

    Ginita,
    My 56 year old husband passed away in February as a result of a workplace accident. He was collecting workers compensation and SSDI at the time of his death. I am 58 and still working. I will receive a Wyoming workers compensation death benefit paid monthly for the next 8 years. Can you tell me if the death benefit is taxable?

  49. My husband passed away in 2011. At the time he was receiving disability and had taken early retirement because he had cancer. I am 58 and having trouble making it. Am I eligible for widow benefits from social security? He made 3 times as much as I do. We were married for 35 years before he died.

    • At age 60 you can begin getting benefits, but contact the Social Security Administration (www.ssa.gov) to find out if your circumstances when he died warrant you getting benefits now. If you wait until you are age 66 it will be greater, but if you need it you should take it as soon as your eligible.

  50. Hi im grace young widow 30 yr old and my pass away husband is 53 i recieve the widow pension last yeat since he was pass away can i loan on the bank? Thnks

  51. Hy iam widow since 2009 My husband,was 58,when
    He died,and we we’re married,37,years he was
    Disabled,drawing social security, for his sickness,
    and that’s the only income, we had to survive
    i am disabled, iam sorry i forgot the social security
    Was staring to help me, so was My income, also
    and food stamps,that’s all he dint have life insurance
    Or anything, he wasn’t wealty,so when he deceased,
    I went and apply for benefits, for widow,survivors,
    Social security,wouldn’t give me my husbands,benefits
    Because,iwas too young iam now 60 years ,i want
    To know if i qualified for full benefits?and if they
    Go back for the time i dint qualified please
    Help!!!

    • You need to talk to Social Security Administration again. You can receive reduced benefits that go back to your 60th birthday. You can’t get benefits for the period during which you were too young to receive benefits — that’s why they didn’t pay them to you then, because you didn’t qualify to receive them.

  52. My aunt became a widow 35 years ago and owns a multifmily home whic was their primary residence. She received widows pension but was told that she no longer had to file taxes after the second year of my ubcles death because her gross income was less than required, and that she could defer from filing property income until she decided to sell it. She now wants to sell what forms does she need ? She is now 80yrs old, it’s a 6 family house with 1 store, and she occupys 3 apartments for family use.

    • When she sells the home they will issue her a 1099 reporting the sales price. She will file an income tax return for that year and will report the sale on that tax return.

      • Thank you for your prompt reply, What a relieve, I thought she would have a problem because she never filed taxes after that to report the rental income, So in other words all that will be taken into account when she files the 1099 ? In New York do you know the percentage she will have to pay the IRS when she sells her home ? She is a widow age 80 and half of the home is occupied by her.

        • Thank you for your prompt reply, What a relieve, I thought she would have a problem because she never filed taxes after that to report the rental income, So in other words all that will be taken into account when she files the 1099 ? In New York do you know the percentage she will have to pay the IRS when she sells her home ? She is a widow age 80 and half of the home is occupied by her.

  53. Hi Ginita –
    Im so stuck on what to do. My father passed away over 17 years ago. My Mother never looked into any home assistance and I believe she is missing out on getting assistance with her mortgage. She has refinanced twice and now owes at leaf 2 times what the house was marked at originally! My Mother is 68 and a widow. Can you give any advice on how she can qualify for lower mortgage payments? She’s retired and still has to work a few days a week just to keep up. I hate to see her work so hard and be so tired. Help! Oh, we live in Florida by the way. I feel like Florida may have more to offer?? Im researching, but I don’t want to go through 10 steps when I can just make one right move. Any advice? Thanks for listening! : )

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