Three years from the year that the estate was settled would be sufficient for federal income tax returns. This is the same minimum time frame that is suggested to keep documentation for federal tax returns when tax filers are alive. If you want to be on the safe side, you can extend this up to six years, which is the time frame in which the IRS can initiate an inquiry if it suspects that someone did not pay their fair share of taxes. You may want to check with local and state income tax agencies in the state where the deceased lived to see if different recommendations are made for keeping local and state tax returns.
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