Colorado Springs, CO asked in Estate Planning for Arizona

Q: Can you get an EIN for a Revocable Living Trust prior to the Trustee's death.

I am the Successor Trustee for a relative's Revocable Living Trust. Can I get either a Tax ID Number (TIN) or Employer ID Number (EIN) for the Trust prior to the Trustor's death? The purpose being to smooth things out a little after the Trustor's passing and not for taxes prior to their passing. Any income from the trust while they are living is addressed on their personal tax returns.

Does it make any difference that the trust is revocable prior to the Trustor's death and (effectively) becomes irrevocable after the Trustor's death?

Which is the correct number to get, EIN or TIN?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Ilene L McCauley
Ilene L McCauley
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Scottsdale, AZ
  • Licensed in Arizona

A: Thank you for your question. EIN and TIN are the same and are applied for on the same application.

The answer is you CAN get an EIN (Employer Identification Number) or TIN (Tax Identification Number) for a Trust, but it generally is not a good idea. When the Trustor is alive, the Trust uses the Trustor's social security number and that way the IRS knows that all of the income belongs to the Trustor. The 1040 income tax return shows that income.

If you get a TIN before death, the application triggers the need for the Trustor to file form 1041, income tax return for trust. This process is complicated. It will make your job harder not easier.

When the Trustor dies, that is the time to apply for the TIN for the Trust. The fiduciary files the final 1040 for the decedent. The Trustee must then file a 1041 for the trust, for income received AFTER the Trustor's death. Speak to your trust attorney and/or your CPA for additional guidance.

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