California Estate Planning Blog by Kevin Staker

September 20, 2017

Some of the Most Popular Golf Courses in California

Filed under: Kevin Staker,Travel — Kevin Staker @ 5:05 pm
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Los Angeles Country Club pic

Los Angeles Country Club
Image: thelacc.org

A Camarillo, California-based attorney with more than three decades of experience, Kevin Staker is the president of STAKERLaw Tax & Estate Planning Law Corporation and principal at Kevin Staker Probate & Trust Mediation. When he is not functioning as a living trust attorney or providing clients with mediation services, he enjoys golfing.

California is home to a number of the most popular golf courses in the United States. According to America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses, an annual list maintained by Golf Digest, eight of the nation’s most enjoyable courses can be found in the Golden State. A few of California’s most desirable golfing destinations include Los Angeles Country Club, the Olympic Club in San Francisco, the Valley Club of Montecito, and the San Francisco Golf Club.

The Riviera Country Club in California’s Pacific Palisades has long ranked as the state’s finest course. The club maintains a 7,040-yard, par-71 course that placed at No. 24 on Golf Digest’s 2017-2018 list. The course was first built in 1926, but has undergone major renovations numerous times, as recently as 2012. Best known for its compact design, the course has been ranked among the top 100 courses since 1966, peaking at No. 18 on the 1985-1986 list.

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August 6, 2017

The Free Legal Clinics of Ventura County Legal Aid

 

Ventura County Legal Aid  pic

Ventura County Legal Aid
Image: vclegalaid.org

An experienced attorney and accomplished probate and trust mediator, Kevin Staker operates two successful businesses in Camarillo, California. He has been president and principal of StakerLaw Tax and Estate Planning Law Corporation since 1985 and principal of Kevin Staker Probate and Trust Mediation since 2016. In his free time, he volunteers his professional legal services through Ventura County Legal Aid (VCLA).

Serving low-income residents throughout Ventura County since 1996, VCLA provides free legal assistance by connecting qualifying individuals and families with volunteer attorneys who offer pro bono legal services. The organization primarily accomplishes this through its regular free legal clinic.

VCLA clinics take place at the Ventura County Law Library at the Ventura County Government Center on Victoria Avenue. Seeing people on a first-come-first-served basis, the volunteer attorneys who staff these clinics cover a diverse range of legal areas, including collections, expungement, and immigration. VCLA attorneys also can assist with landlord/tenant and family law issues.

VCLA clinics occur the first and third Tuesdays of each month from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The organization sponsors no clinics in the third week of June and throughout July in its entirety.

July 25, 2017

Medi-Cal and Long Term Care

Filed under: Kevin Staker,Medi-Cal Planning — Kevin Staker @ 10:38 am
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StakerLaw Tax and Estate Planning pic

StakerLaw Tax and Estate Planning
Image: staker.com

As the principal attorney and president of the StakerLaw Tax and Estate Planning Law Corporation, Kevin Staker helps clients allocate their assets to protect themselves and their families. Kevin Staker offers advice not only on estate planning but also on the funding of long-term care through Medi-Cal.

Unlike Medicare, which pays for only 100 days of skilled nursing for patients coming from acute care, Medi-Cal can fund care in the long term for eligible individuals. Medi-Cal is available to any California resident whose income does not exceed 138 percent of the federal poverty level and who has limited nonexempt assets. These assets must be below $2,000 for individuals or below $3,000 for couples.

Medi-Cal coverage may also be available for those whose income is above the specified maximum if the person in question has high health care costs. These individuals may be able to participate in Share of Cost Medi-Cal, which requires recipients to allocate a percentage of their monthly income to medical expenses. For long-term care residents, the recipients must pay their full monthly income minus a personal needs allowance.

Similar coverage may also be available to some people through the Assisted Living Waiver, which requires that individuals require a level of care that would necessitate nursing home care without the waiver. Recipients must live in a state-approved facility.

If persons would prefer to live at home and can safely do so, they may receive coverage of medically necessary services from Medi-Cal. Any nonmedical support may be covered through the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program, which is available to people who meet Medi-Cal income eligibility guidelines.

June 23, 2017

A Brief Explanation of Probate

Filed under: Kevin Staker,Probate — Kevin Staker @ 8:13 am
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Kevin Staker Probate and Trust Mediation pic

Kevin Staker Probate and Trust Mediation
Image: staker.com

An experienced estate attorney based in Camarillo, California, Kevin Staker has led as president and principal of StakerLaw Tax and Estate Planning since 1985. In 2016, Kevin Staker also became principal of an independent probate and trust mediation company.

Probate is the process by which a court oversees the identification, appraisal, and distribution of a deceased individual’s assets. It often begins when an individual presents the deceased person’s will and files a petition of probate. If no will exists, probate begins with the appointment of an administrator, who is typically a close family member if possible or a public administrator otherwise.

Once the executor has received official appointment, the court admits the will into probate and the executor may begin to administer relevant assets. This process begins with the collection and inventorying of assets, which the executor must officially file with the court.

The executor is also responsible for using assets in probate to pay any due taxes, bills, and other expenses that the deceased has left behind. In some cases, doing so may involve selling non-cash assets. The executor may also need to set aside funds for the support of family members during the remaining phase of probate, in which the executor officially distribute the deceased’s property according to the terms of the will.

June 13, 2017

IRS Extends Missed Deadlines for Estate Tax Portability by Kevin Staker

To transfer the unused estate tax exemption of a deceased spouse, the transfer must be done in an estate tax return filed for the deceased spouse.  The deadline for such a return is nine months after the death of the deceased spouse.  That deadline cannot be extended by the typical extension for filing an estate tax return.

Many surviving spouses have missed that deadline.  Such a spouse up until June 9th had to apply for an expensive private letter ruling from the IRS to be allowed to file the estate tax return after the nine month deadline had been missed.  That entailed a filing fee of thousands of dollars and attorney’s fees of thousands and thousands of dollars to fill out the amazingly complex paperwork applying for a simple extension.

The IRS has come to its senses and on June 9th in Revenue Procedure 2017-34 (https://www.irs.gov/pub/irsdrop/rp-17-34.pdf) has ruled such a late return may now be filed by the later of January 2, 2018, or two years after the death of the decedent.

I personally had one client I called immediately.  I had recommended he go through the private ruling process because it would have saved tens of thousands of dollars in estate tax if he were to die in the near future.  Lucky for him he did not follow my advice.

See also http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/news/2017/jun/portability-election-extension-201716844.html

By Kevin Staker

 

April 21, 2017

The Future of the Gift Tax by Kevin Staker

Filed under: Kevin Staker,Uncategorized — Kevin Staker @ 8:17 pm
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Allyson Versprille in an article at bna.com, Gift Tax Tweaks Could Lead to Unsavory Avoidance Tactics, speaks of the reasons for or against repeal of the Federal Gift Tax if the estate tax is repealed as part of the Republican’s tax reform effort in 2017.

Some of her points are as follows:

Changes to the gift tax could create unintended consequences or make it easier to avoid income or other taxes using new and existing techniques. Republicans’ proposals vary—from ignoring the gift tax, retaining it as is, or repealing it altogether. Some of the impacts are as follows:

Repealing both the estate and gift taxes—with no other changes—could impact the most. Many think if the estate tax is repealed, the gift tax should be as well. But there are several reasons not to do it.

First, the gift tax backstops the federal income tax. Without a gift tax, an individual could give property to another, such as a child, probably resulting its income being taxed at a lower rate, even if sold.

Second, there would be more gaming the system.  People would give away assets, but not really giving them away until death.  For example, instead of giving a child $1,000,000 it could be a loan with the note given to the child at death. Neither the House GOP’s tax blueprint nor President Trump’s campaign proposal mention the gift tax. However, Trump has proposed replacing the estate tax with a capital gains tax on estates over $10 million.   This would include an exemption for small businesses and family farms.  (Oh, the planning possibilities start to dance in my head already.) If this change is made, it would make sense a gift would also trigger a capital gains tax.

However, how this would affect trusts set up for generations makes my head hurt. Repealing both the estate tax and the gift tax could accelerate gift-giving if it appears the estate tax is about to be reinstated. On the other hand, if estate tax repeal appears it will be permanent, Congress keeps the gift tax is retained and the “step up in basis” at death, the wealthy may not make gifts. In this case, the wealthy would hold onto their assets until death, get the step up in basis, and then allow the asset to go to the next generation with an estate tax .

Note: estate tax repeal will likely only be temporary for 10 years.  This happens because of “reconciliation”.  The bottom line is only 51 votes needed in the Senate as compared to 60 if will be permanent (needed to avoid a filibuster in the Senate).

March 16, 2017

S. J. Quinney College of Law Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic

S. J. Quinney College of Law pic

S. J. Quinney College of Law
Image: law.utah.edu

Prior to beginning his career as an attorney, Kevin Staker attended New York University School of Law in New York City, New York, where he received a master of laws in taxation in 1981. Kevin Staker also attended the University of Utah S. J. Quinney College of Law in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he earned his juris doctor in 1980.

The S. J. Quinney College of Law provides a number of research projects where law students can develop their skills, including the low-income taxpayer clinic. The clinic works with those who have disputes or issues with the IRS to help resolve their problems.

In order for the low-income taxpayer clinic to assist those in need, the amount in dispute must be less than $50,000 and they must not already have legal representation. Those who are helped by the clinic don’t have to pay any fees for the clinic’s services, but they are required to cover any filing fees or court costs.

March 7, 2017

Training for Triathlons Can Prevent Injury

Triathlons

 

As the president and main attorney for his practice StakerLaw, Tax and Estate Planning Law Corporation, Kevin Staker deals with living trusts through their formation and administration. Outside of work, Kevin Staker enjoys participating in triathlons.

Triathlons involve individuals running in three different competitions to form an overall race. This includes running, biking, and swimming. One unexpected benefit of training for a triathlon is that participants are able to reduce the risk of injury. This is because, when an individual simply trains for one sport, they are using the same muscles and body parts. For example, running will have more focus on the use of the legs than anything else. However, adding in a sport such as swimming will place more stress on the arms.

Because the stress of only working certain body parts constantly is gone, there is less chance for injury. Muscles are given time to recover, and individuals can experience balanced and varied workouts. This can also prevent burnout, which leads many people to quit their workout routine.

February 24, 2017

Ventura County Bar Association Offers Leadership and Development

Filed under: Kevin Staker,Law — Kevin Staker @ 2:35 pm
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Ventura County Bar Association pic

Ventura County Bar Association
Image: vcba.org

Kevin Staker is the principal and owner for Kevin Staker Probate and Trust Mediation. He works with both parties to settle mediation outside of court, making both individuals’ lives less stressful. Kevin Staker has been involved with his community throughout the years, and has served on the Ventura County Bar Association.

The Ventura County Bar Association serves as a place where lawyers local to the area can find resources on continuing their education, and find information on how to develop their practice and grow their professional network. There are even opportunities to offer pro bono assistance in the community through educating the public or providing volunteer legal services to those who cannot afford it.

The leadership opportunities and development within the bar association includes being on the VCBA board. This affects not only court policy, but also Ventura County itself, as policies are written and changed. The conference of delegates is another chance individuals have to practice their skills as they discuss ideas and debate them with other VCBA members and attorneys in the area.

February 12, 2017

Do Not Delay Planning Your Estate by Kevin Staker

Filed under: Kevin Staker — Kevin Staker @ 9:15 am
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Do Not Delay Planning Your Estate

In a recent study, only 26 percent of 3,105 wealthy individuals in the survey had even tried to completely plan their estate  to get their wealth to the next generation. Furthermore, only 54 percent had even created a will, much less a trust, but most had not updated them. Thus, $1.5 trillion of the $3.2 trillion to be inherited is without direction as it goes to the next generation.

Possibly, people avoid planning their estate plan because they are not sure what they want to do with their wealth.  However, more likely  the cause is simple procrastination or not wanting to face their mortality.

Other than simply doing it, another important part of a good estate plan is to communicate with your beneficiaries the facts so that they can to prepare for an inheritance. The earlier in life these conversations take place, the easier the transfer of wealth will be.

A good article on this topic has been written by Sonia Talati and is found at http://blogs.barrons.com/penta/2017/02/10/dont-delay-planning-your-estate/.

By Kevin Staker

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