Legal representative for a deceased person
You are the legal representative of a deceased person if you are in one of the following situations:
- You are named as the executor in the will
- You are appointed as the administrator of the estate by a court
- You are registered as the liquidator for an estate in Quebec
- You complete Form RC552, Appointing a Representative for a Deceased Person, to be recognized as the deceased’s representative when there is no legal document naming a legal representative
- The CRA has received copy of legal documents giving you the authority to be the legal representative for a non-resident tax account
As the legal representative, you may wish to appoint an authorized representative to deal with the CRA for tax matters on your behalf. For more information, see Representative authorization.
Unless included in your business income, trustee, executor, or liquidator fees paid to you for acting as an executor is income from an office or employment. As the executor, you must report these fees on a T4 slip. For more information, see "Employment by a trustee" in Chapter 1 of the T4001, Employers' Guide - Payroll Deductions and Remittances.
What are your responsibilities as the legal representative?
As the legal representative, you should provide the CRA with the deceased's date of death as soon as possible. You can advise the CRA by calling 1-800-959-8281, by sending a letter, or a completed Request for the Canada Revenue Agency to Update Records form. This form is included with the Information Sheet RC4111, Canada Revenue Agency - What to Do Following a Death.
To keep the deceased's records up to date, also send the CRA all of the following information:
- a copy of the death certificate
- a complete copy of the will or other legal document, such as a grant of probate or letters of administration, showing that you are the legal representative, or Form RC552 which is available at Forms and publications - Canada.ca or by calling 1-800-387-1193
- the new mailing address for the estate, if applicable
- if not already sent, a completed Request for the Canada Revenue Agency to Update Records form
The deceased's social insurance number (SIN) must be provided on any request or on any documents you are sending to the CRA.
These documents can be sent to us through the Submit Documents function in Represent a Client, or by mail to the Authorization Services Unit (ASU) of the deceased’s tax centre.
If you did not send this information upon the deceased's death, send it with their final tax return.
To obtain online access to the deceased's tax information, you must register for Represent a Client prior to sending a copy of the legal documents or Form RC522. Once you have registered with the Represent a Client service, you will be assigned a representative identifier (RepID). Make sure to provide your RepID, in addition to the deceased's SIN, when you are submitting all the required documents.
If you are already on file as the legal representative, you may submit a letter requesting online access that includes the deceased’s SIN and your RepID through the Submit documents function in Represent a Client.
If you have any questions you may call 1-800-959-8281.
Under the Income Tax Act, as the legal representative, it is your responsibility to:
- file all required returns for the deceased
- ensure that all taxes owing are paid
- let the beneficiaries know which of the amounts they receive from the estate are taxable
As the legal representative, you are responsible for filing a return for the deceased for the year of death. This return is called the Final return.
You also have to file any returns for previous years that the deceased person did not file. If the person did not leave records about these returns, or if you cannot tell from existing records whether or not the returns were filed, contact the CRA at 1-800-959-8281. If you have to file a return for a year before the year of death, use an Income Tax and Benefit Return for that year. Previous year returns are available on our website, or by calling 1-800-959-8281.
You have to file a T3 Trust Income Tax and Information Return, to report the income the estate earned after the date of death. If the terms of a trust were established by the will or a court order in relation to the deceased individual's estate under provincial or territorial dependant relief or support law, you also have to file a T3 Trust Income Tax and Information Return for that trust. However, you may not have to file a T3 return (not to be confused with the final return, which always has to be filed) if the estate is distributed immediately after the person dies, or if the estate did not earn income before the distribution. In these cases, you should give each beneficiary a statement showing their share of the estate. See the T4013, T3 Trust Guide, for more information and, where a trust is created, to determine whether that return has to be filed. See Chart 2 to find out what income to report on the T3 return.
Deemed year-end of a trust on death
On the day of death of the following individuals, the particular trust will have a deemed year end:
- the settlor of an alter ego trust
- the spouse or common-law partner beneficiary of a spousal or common-law partner trust
- the last surviving spouse or common-law partner beneficiary of a joint spousal or common-law partner trust
- an individual (other than a trust) who transferred property on a tax-deferred basis to certain types of trusts
The income that is deemed to be recognized by the trust upon the death of the beneficiary will be taxed inside the trust.
However, in the case of a testamentary spousal or common-law partner trust, a joint election between the trust and the deceased beneficiary’s graduated rate estate can be filed to report this income in the beneficiary's final return. Report this income on the T3 slip issued to the beneficiary. For the joint election to be valid, all of the following requirements must be met:
- The beneficiary was a resident of Canada immediately before death.
- The trust is a testamentary trust that is a post-1971 spousal or common-law partner trust and was created by the will of a taxpayer who died before 2017.
- The trust and the beneficiary’s graduated rate estate (GRE) jointly elect in prescribed form.
- A copy of the joint election is filed with both the final T1 return of the beneficiary and the T3 return for the deemed year-end of the trust.
As the legal representative of the deceased beneficiary, you need to attach to the final T1 return the joint election in the form of a letter which contains all of the following information:
- a heading identifying the letter as a subsection 104(13.4) election
- the T1 and T3 account numbers
- the income amount that was allocated in the T3 slip and reported on the final T1 return filed for the deceased beneficiary
- the signatures, names and addresses of both the trustee(s) and the executor(s) for the deceased beneficiary
Forms and publications
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