NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - You may start to hear this story more often over the coming weeks: a person’s deceased parent or loved one receives a stimulus payment from the federal government, either by check or through direct deposit.
Mike Martinez, financial planner and President of M. Martinez & Associates, says the issue could stem from the federal government taking two years or more to recognize when a person has died.
“If that account is open and the federal government is lagging behind on that data that they passed away, then more than likely you’re going to see that deposit go in," said Martinez.
A Metairie woman recently told FOX 8 her mother passed away in September 2019. Her mother stopped receiving Social Security in October, and her 2019 taxes had not been filed, but on April 15, she noticed $1,200 deposited into her mothers account, which is still open as her family goes through the succession process.
“I do a lot of estate planning and people have to file succession. Succession can’t be done overnight. You have to settle up all of the estate. Any kind of funerals, any kind of bills, outstanding credit cards. So many time we don’t close that account out for six months to a year," said Martinez.
Martinez says he recently spoke to another certified public accountant who say the issue now is trying to find out if the money is only entitled to people who were alive when the stimulus bill was passed back in March, or if there will be an exception made for those who filed their taxes for 2018 but passed away after.
“I would say be diligent, ask questions, make the phone call to your CPA or the IRS and find out because the last thing you want is a year from now, two years from now, you owe that money or worst of all, you can’t sign the name of someone on the back of a check. That’s committing fraud. So you have to be careful, you don’t want to get in any kind of trouble.”
But in the meantime, the smart thing to do is to leave the money alone until you find out more information.
“Pick up the phone, call the government, call the CPA, say look, are we entitled to this or are we not? and that’s the best way because then you’ll have the answer of whether you can keep the money or whether you need to give it back.”