Stephen Cockriel Nov. 7, 2014

Local residents may benefit from learning more about estate taxes, as described by the Superior Court of California. The personal representative of the estate is typically responsible for paying taxes to the appropriate state and federal agencies for the decedent. Unless an extension to file has been granted, federal and state estate tax returns must be filed within nine months following the death of the estate owner. However, an extension to file does not grant more time to pay the estate tax. Other forms are required to receive separate approval.

Penalties may be levied for filing late and paying late as well as the interested accrued for the late payments. The IRS may also issue penalties if the assets on the tax return are undervalued. Estate owners are advised to consult a qualified appraiser for assistance. The federal estate tax is described as an excise tax that's calculated by totaling the gross estate, minus the appropriate deductions and credits.

A federal fiduciary income tax return must be filed for any probate estate generating at least $600 per tax year following the date of the death. The appropriate forms must be filed with the state of California if the estate's net income exceeds $1,000 or its gross income exceeds $8,000. The personal representative for the estate may choose to pay the income tax according to either the fiscal year or the calendar year.

People who need more help understanding the expectations and responsibilities associated with estate taxes may benefit from consulting a probate lawyer. Legal counsel can alleviate some of the burden that these complicated tasks can create after the sudden loss of a loved one. These lawyers can help potential beneficiaries determine if there is a will and then provide guidance on the appropriate steps to take moving forward.