Stimulus Checks Incorrectly Sent to Deceased People – What To Do Now?

The recently passed CARES Act included many provisions to provide economic aid, relief and stimulus for America. As a part of the new law many Americans will receive stimulus checks officially called Economic Impact Payments.

US citizens and permanent residents qualify to receive $1,200 for single and head of household filers, and $2,400 for married couple filer, with an adjusted gross income (AGI) up to $75,000 for individuals who file as single or married filing separately, $112,500 for head of household filers, and $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns. Reduced amounts will be sent to those who have a higher AGI. However, those with an AGI over $99,001 for single or married filing jointly, $136,501 for head of household, and $198,001 for married filing jointly, will not receive any money.

Recently, I have received calls from my clients who have received checks from the IRS that are written to family members who have died. And my clients want to know if they can keep the money. The answer is no.

The IRS has been incorrectly sending money to deceased individuals. The stimulus checks are only meant for people who are still alive. If you receive a check from the US Treasury payable to someone who is deceased, then you need to send back the entire payment. The exception is if the check is made to joint filers and a spouse is still alive. Then only a portion of the payment needs to be returned.

If you received a paper check, then write “Void” in the endorsement portion on the back of the check. The IRS requests that you include a note stating that you are returning the check because the person named on the check is deceased. Please do not staple or clip the note to the check, and don’t bend the check. Then send the voided check and note back to the IRS. If you live in Oregon or Washington, the address to use is Fresno IRS, 5045 E. Butler Ave., Fresno, CA 93888.

If you have already cashed the check, then send the IRS a cashiers check or money order for the same amount as deposited. The check should be made payable to the U.S. Treasury. And then on the memo line write 2020EIP and the deceased person’s social security number. Then follow the same procedures as addressed in the previous paragraph.

For more information, please see: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payment-information-center#more

If you have more questions or want to talk about the CARES act or other estate planning issues, contact one of our estate planning attorneys.

Anastasia (Stacie) Yu Meisner is a member of the SYK Estate Planners practice. Her practice focuses on estate planning, mediation, probate, trust and estate administration. In addition, she also works with guardianships and conservatorships, as well as business transactions and formation.

POLST & COVID-19: Are Your Legal Documents Current & Do They Reflect Your Wishes?

Dr. Susan Tolle, Chair of the Oregon POLST Coalition, created a 5-minute video that guides viewers through a POLST form (Portable Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment). This standardized, single page, brightly colored form can be vital for healthcare providers in managing fragile or seriously ill patients towards the end of life, and particularly helpful for managing one’s wishes for intensive care treatment and assisted breathing with ventilators.

It is important to note that not everyone needs a POLST – it is for the seriously ill. An Advance Directive is another standardized, but more complex, legal document that also sets forth your wishes for medical care and life-sustaining treatments and/or designates a Health Care Representative to express those wishes to healthcare providers, should you be unable to speak for yourself. Everyone should have a properly executed Advance Directive, for the unforeseen, but not everyone, necessarily needs a POLST; it depends on your medical condition.

Victoria Blachly: SYK Attorney

Victoria Blachly is a partner at SYK, and an experienced fiduciary litigator that works with many elderly clients, cases and causes. She is also a proud Board Member for the Oregon Alzheimer’s Association Chapter.