What happens to disability checks after someone dies

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Q. If my spouse died two months after filing for temporary disability and benefits checks are sent to her estate, how can I get those checks in my account if I took her name off our bank account?
— Surviving spouse

A. We’re sorry to hear of your wife’s death.

We don’t know the details of your wife’s estate, but here’s what would happen to the income.

Income that’s received after someone dies, such as a disability income check sent to your wife’s estate, is known as “income in respect of a decedent,” or IRD, said Gene McGovern, a certified financial planner with McGovern Financial Advisors in Westfield.

“More broadly, and for tax purposes, IRD is income that a decedent was entitled to at the time he or she died, but that wasn’t properly includable in computing taxable income for the year of death or any previous year,” McGovern said.

IRD income -or the right to receive the income – is included in the decedent’s estate and eventually passes to the beneficiaries, along with the other estate assets, he said. A disability check received after your wife’s death would likely become part of the probate estate.

You should probably have a bank account in the name of the estate until you close out the estate.

Also be sure that whatever benefits checks were received were actually earned. If your wife died but continued to receive checks, that money may need to be returned.

Assuming that you’re the executor of your wife’s estate, it’s best to check with a qualified attorney on the proper handling of any disability checks received.

You can learn more in this IRS publication.

Email your questions to moc.p1561420020leHye1561420020noMJN1561420020@ksA1561420020.

This story was originally published on April 9, 2019.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.