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Stimulus checks being mailed to dead people

In Minnesota and across the country, surviving family members are learning $1200 payments have been deposited in their dead loved ones' accounts.

MINNEAPOLIS — Curtis Olstad of Greenfield was a salt of the earth, honest Minnesotan.

The kind of man his daughter Audra Etzel said wouldn't keep something that didn't belong to him.

"We would never keep this. This is why we're reaching out," Etzel said.

On Wednesday, Audra and her brother happened to check the bank account they use for their father's estate. And that's when they noticed a $1200 deposit from the IRS - a stimulus check - directed to their father, who died 12 months ago.

"I don't think this was the intent of the stimulus money to send to those who are no longer here to stimulate the economy," Etzel said.

Headlines from across the country show that Curtis Olstad is far from the only dead person to receive a stimulus payment from the federal government. 

But what are family members of dead stimulus recipients supposed to do?

"It's possible the beneficiaries of the person's estate will get to keep the funds," said Steve Warren, CPA, MBT, and senior manager at Schechter Dokken Kanter CPAs in the Twin Cities.

Warren said it appears lawmakers didn't anticipate this problem and did not include a so-called "clawback provision."

But Warren warned that Congress could still amend the law to try to get the payments to dead people back.

To Etzel, the big picture of this problem is distressing.

"That's scary to think they are sending money to people who are no longer here. And there's people who are waiting for their money who haven't had a chance to receive it yet and they're still waiting," Etzel said.

She says he father would get kick out of it.

"He'd find it humorous," she laughed.

And then he'd tell her to return the money.

If Congress and the IRS do not require repayment of stimulus funds issued to dead people, Etzel said she would donate the funds to a charity in her father's name, so that it does play a role in stimulating the economy.

RELATED: Receiving SSI benefits? You'll get your stimulus check automatically, IRS says

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