Real Estate Terms Dictionary

Notice of Estate Tax Lien

Short definition of 'Notice of Estate Tax Lien'

A notice of estate tax lien is a letter issued by the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) when due estate taxes are not paid for a decedent's property. It informs the person(s) in possession of the property that the government can claim the property due to unpaid debt.

What is a Notice of Estate Tax Lien:

An estate tax lien is created when any US resident dies. It attaches to all of the assets in the decedent's gross estate and it helps the IRS collect any estate taxes be owed on the decedent's property.

The lien also continues to be attached to the property if the property is transferred or liquidated without estate taxes owing. This means that the person in possession of the property is liable for the estate tax lien even upon the death of the original property owner.

The lifetime of an estate tax lien is 10 years.


Here's a real-life example from one of the properties researched on PropertyShark:

Notice of estate tax lien - example

Release of Estate Tax Lien

The IRS can release the heirs of a decedent's estate from an estate tax lien when the tax lien has been paid in full or when the 10 year period (during which the estate tax lien is attached to the property) has elapsed. The fees for recording the release of estate tax lien are paid by the decedent's heir(s).


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The glossary is intended to provide real estate professionals and home buyers with a basic understanding of various specialized terms related to legal rights over a property. All terms appear in public records such as ACRIS. We do not take responsibility for the legal accuracy of the definitions provided and ask that use of these explanations in a legal setting be made only after checking with a lawyer or another specialist in the field.