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Who must file estate tax returns

What heirs, or other personal representatives of an estate, need to know about filing.


The estate tax is a transfer tax on the value of the decedent's estate before distribution to any beneficiary.

For estates of decedents dying in 2006 or after, the applicable exclusion amount is $1,000,000. Future changes to the federal estate tax law have no impact on the Massachusetts estate tax.

The personal representative of the estate must file the estate tax return. If there is no personal representative, the person who has the decedent's property must file the return.

The term personal representative includes:

  • Executor
  • Administrator
  • Special administrator
  • Special personal representative
  • Successor personal representative
  • A person who performs substantially the same function under the law governing the status.

"General personal representative" excludes special personal representative.