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Form 1041

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Level 3

Decedent's estate had no income expect for Bank interest of less than $10 for 2016 - 2018, but ongoing legal expenses.  In 2019 the house was sold for a gain.  Is there any way the legal expenses of 29,000  can be deducted?  Are they lost?

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Level 3

First, you should determine whether or not the legal are deductible.  In my opinion, many people assume, incorrectly, that all legal expenses incurred during the administration of a trust/estate are deductible.  They're not.  IRS’s Notice 2018-61 reiterates that an estate or trust may deduct expenses incurred in the administration of an estate or trust, as long as they would not otherwise be incurred if the property were not held in such estate or trust. 

If the legal expenses are deductible, then expenses incurred in years prior to the final return are lost.

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Level 3

First, you should determine whether or not the legal are deductible.  In my opinion, many people assume, incorrectly, that all legal expenses incurred during the administration of a trust/estate are deductible.  They're not.  IRS’s Notice 2018-61 reiterates that an estate or trust may deduct expenses incurred in the administration of an estate or trust, as long as they would not otherwise be incurred if the property were not held in such estate or trust. 

If the legal expenses are deductible, then expenses incurred in years prior to the final return are lost.

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Level 3

That's what I thought!  Thank you for confirming!

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Level 11

I'm trying to think of a legal expense that an estate (as opposed to a trust) would have, that an individual would also have if living.  Maybe I'm just being dense.  Maybe "estate" also refers to bankruptcy estates.  

But I would look for a nexus (not the Henry Miller novel type) between the legal expense and the reat estate, that might let you add it to the basis of the property.  What if the only asset in the estate was the realty, and without it no legal expenses would be incurred?  

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