Do I need a co executor's signature on tax documents to file them for the estate?

A fellow caregiver asked...

Do I need a co executor's signature on tax documents to file them for the estate? My sister and I are co executors of my father's estate. When he was alive I was his power of attorney and took care of him through his illness. Since I was his POA, I had his mail forwarded to me with my sister's permission. I took all of his tax materials to a tax preparer who sent a copy certified mail for my sister to sign. She would not sign for the documents and they were returned to the tax preparer. Do I need her signature on his tax return or can I sign as his personal representative?  In general she has been uncooperative. I have been maintaining my father's property and paying his outstanding bills out of a small amount of money we agreed upon after his death. But I am frustrated that she will not cooperate in handling his affairs and will not accept the tax documents for signature. Do I need her signature or can I sign as his personal representative and send her half of the refund sent to me? Please help

Expert Answer

Steve Weisman hosts the nationally syndicated radio show A Touch of Grey, heard on more than 50 stations, including WABC in New York City and KRLA in Los Angeles. He is a practicing lawyer specializing in estate planning and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. He's a public speaker and commentator who has appeared on many radio and television shows throughout the country, and he's the legal editor of Talkers magazine, the preeminent trade publication of talk radio. His latest book is The Truth About Avoiding Scams.

Your authority under the Durable Power of Attorney ended at your father's death.  Once you and your sister were appointed by the court as co-executors, the authority and responsibility to settle your father's affairs became a joint responsibility.  Both of your signatures are required on the income tax return.  Your first step should be to determine the reason, if any, for her lack of cooperation.  If you cannot resolve her concerns, you should apply to the court as soon as possible to have her removed as a co-executor for failure to perform her duties.