It is a sad time, settling up the tax estate of a deceased spouse. Fortunately the IRS makes it a minimally stressful procedure to accomplish. Filing taxes is a matter of notifying the IRS that the person is now deceased and ensuring that proper protocol is followed.
If the decedent passed away before their most recent tax return was filed, their personal representative must fill out their final return. In this situation, the personal representative is the surviving spouse.
At the top of the 1040, write the word DECEASED, the name of the decedent, and their date of death. Enter both spouses names and address in the address box as normal. Complete the rest of the form. There is no need to do anything different when entering information.
The surviving spouse does not need to do anything. They will receive the refund as usual.
Two people who have lived together as a married couple for many years will have amassed a lot of property and retirement funds. It's best to hire a lawyer to help protect the widower's rights. There's potential that taxes will consume a large part of the estate. The surviving spouse's lawyer can go to work to help them keep as much money as possible.