As Grandville, Mi estate planning and probate attorneys, we are seeing an increasingly common scenario.  Someone calls our office, not quite sure what their legal obligation is. A friend or relative passed away sometime in the past year.  The caller, who is typically the Personal Representative of the estate or Trustee of a Trust, receives a check in the mail.  It turns out that the check is from the US Department of Treasury and it is a stimulus check issued based on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) that was passed into law March 27, 2020.  They ask us a great question – does it become part of the estate or trust?  That is, can they keep it for the beneficiaries?

The answer is “no”.  Per the official IRS website, “a Payment made to someone who died before receipt of the Payment should be returned to the IRS by following the instructions in the Q&A about repayments. Return the entire Payment unless the Payment was made to joint filers and one spouse had not died before receipt of the Payment, in which case, you only need to return the portion of the Payment made on account of the decedent. This amount will be $1,200 unless adjusted gross income exceeded $150,000.” The instructions for returning the payment are as follows:

If the payment was a paper check:

  • Write “Void” in the endorsement section on the back of the check.
  • Mail the voided Treasury check immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below.
  • Don’t staple, bend, or paper clip the check.
  • Include a note stating the reason for returning the check.

If the payment was a paper check and you have cashed it, or if the payment was a direct deposit:

  • Submit a personal check, money order, etc., immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below.
  • Write on the check/money order made payable to “U.S. Treasury” and write 2020EIP, and the taxpayer identification number (social security number, or individual taxpayer identification number) of the recipient of the check.
  • Include a brief explanation of the reason for returning the EIP.

If you live in Michigan, the IRS location to return the check (or the person check if already deposited) is:

Kansas City Internal Revenue Service
333 W Pershing Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64108

If you have any questions about a stimulus check or anything else estate planning, probate or trust related, please contact us.  Although we are working remotely at this time, we are still happy and able to help in any way we can.

Please note: The information presented in this post was accurate as of May 15, 2020.