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The Issue of Stimulus Money Sent to Deceased Recipients
Mary Rose E. Cook, Esq.
Following a belated realization that some stimulus payments have been sent to recipients who are deceased, the Internal Revenue Service is asking those individuals who have received such payments to return them. The agency’s request along with guidelines for returning such payments appear on the IRS website. Those who have received paper checks are instructed to void the checks and mail them back to the agency. Those who have received direct deposit payments are instructed to mail a personal check in the amount of the payment to the agency.
How—or whether—the IRS will enforce these instructions remains unclear. The guidelines do not expressly state that recipients of unintended payments are required to return the payments, nor do they identify what will happen to those individuals who do not comply with the guidelines.
Such a situation is not unprecedented. During the 2008 economic collapse, stimulus checks were similarly sent to deceased recipients. The agency did not make attempts to rescind those payments from those who received them in error. However, any assumption that the agency will not more aggressively pursue reimbursements for 2020 stimulus payments simply because it declined to do so in 2008 would not be a safe assumption to make.
If you have received a stimulus payment on behalf of a deceased family member or other loved one, or if you have any questions about estate administration, please contact Mary Rose E. Cook, Esq. of Adelberg, Rudow, Dorf & Hendler (Chair of Estates and Trusts Department) directly at (410) 986-0844. She may also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.