Cross-Border Blog

What is a Transfer Certificate from the IRS

Transfer Certificates are releases of the Federal estate tax lien on a decedent’s property. They are issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The estate administrator (personal representative, executor, successor trustee or person in possession) may request a Transfer Certificate so that the decedent’s property may be transferred without liability. Most times it arises as a requirement of a U.S. financial institution holding account in the decedent’s name before it will release the funds. Another way it arises is during a closing on the sale U.S. real property as a requirement of the title agency or buyer’s counsel – as clear title cannot pass without the Transfer Certificate. The short story is that financial institutions and buyer’s of U.S. real property do not want to take on the risk that the decedent’s estate owes U.S. federal estate tax.

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