California Estate Planning Blog by Kevin Staker

December 9, 2017

Differences Between Senate and House Tax Reform Bills by Kevin Staker

Filed under: estate tax,Kevin Staker,Uncategorized — Kevin Staker @ 6:22 am
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Differences Between Senate and House Tax Reform Bills by Kevin Staker

 

The two houses of Congress have passed two separate tax bills:

Major Differences:

  • Medical Expense Deduction – House repeals and Senate actually expands.
  • Mortgage Interest Deduction – House reduces maximum loan amount to $500.000 and Senate keeps at $1,000,000.
  • Graduate Student Tuition Waiver – House treats as taxable income and Senate keeps tax free
  • Pass Through Income – House caps rate at 25 percent but excludes service businesses and Senate adopts a 23 percent income deduction for all businesses, including professionals.
  • Alternative Minimum Taxable Income – House repeals corporate and individual, and Senate retains corporate and retains individual but with higher exemption.
  • Estate Tax – House increases exemption to $10 million indexed for inflation since 2010 with repeal in 2023, and the Senate does the same but no repeal.

The two houses will next have a conference committee to hash out the differences.  I suspect the final bill will be closer to the Senate version because they can afford to lose only one more Republican senator.

We shall see.

By Kevin Staker

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December 8, 2017

Kevin Staker is a Probate and Trust Mediator in Ventura County

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Staker @ 10:10 am

Kevin Staker is a Probate and Trust Mediator in Ventura County.

In probate or trust mediation, the parties work with a neutral mediator to try to resolve their disputes without litigation and an eventual trial. Parties may go to mediation before or after filing a lawsuit. The parties and their attorneys meet with the mediator in a private, confidential setting.

The probate and trust mediation website of Kevin Staker is found at http://kevin-staker-mediation.com/.  The website includes a page by Kevin Staker on Principles of Probate and Trust Mediation, this is found at http://kevin-staker-mediation.com/principles-probate-trust-mediation/.  Another page by Kevin Staker is Focus of Probate and Trust Mediation; this page is found at http://kevin-staker-mediation.com/trust-probate-mediation-focus/.

By Kevin Staker

November 30, 2017

The Professional Bio Website of Kevin Staker, www.kevinstaker.com, is Back Online

Filed under: Kevin Staker,Uncategorized — Kevin Staker @ 3:23 pm
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The Professional Bio Website of Kevin Staker, http://www.kevinstaker.com, is Back Online.

The http://www.kevinstaker.com website, the professional biography website of Kevin Staker is back online.  This website of Kevin Staker can me found at kevinstaker.com.

Kevin Staker is a living trust attorney and probate and trust mediator in Camarillo, Ventura County, California.

See also https://twitter.com/kevinstaker

By Kevin Staker

November 6, 2017

Estate Planning and the The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, 2017 Tax Reform by Kevin Staker

Filed under: estate tax,estate tax news,Kevin Staker,Uncategorized — Kevin Staker @ 4:56 pm
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Estate Planning and 2017 Tax Reform

The Republicans in Congress have introduced the The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, H.R. 1.  The is the 2017 attempt at tax reform by the Republicans in Congress.

The changes proposed include the following:

  • The exemptions from the Estate Tax and the Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax are doubled from $5 million (as of 2011) to $10 million, which is indexed for inflation. This provision would apply to tax years beginning in 2018.  Hence, with inflation the exemptions for 2018 will be $11.2 million.
  • Beginning in 2024, the estate and generation-skipping taxes are repealed.
  • The step up in income tax basis is maintained.
  • The gift tax is lowered to a top rate of 35 percent and retains a basic exclusion amount of $5.6 million for 2018, again indexed for inflation.
  • The annual exclusion of $14,000 increases to $15,000 in 2018 and is also indexed for inflation.

The stated reasons are:

• The estate and generation-skipping taxes impose additional levels on tax on income and
assets that have generally already been subject tax. By repealing the estate and
generation-skipping taxes, family businesses that would pass from one generation to the
next would no longer be subject to double or even triple taxation.
• By repealing the estate and generation-skipping taxes, a small business would no longer
be penalized for growing to the point of being taxed upon the death of its owner, thus
incentivizing the owner to continue to invest in more capital and hire more employees.

Current law provides property in an estate is generally subject to a top tax rate of 40
percent before it passes to the estate’s beneficiaries. When property is transferred during the life of a donor, it is subject to a top gift tax rate of 40 percent, with the first $14,000 being excluded from the gift tax on a per-donee, annual basis. Additionally, property that is transferred beyond one generation, whether by bequest or by gift, is subject to an additional generation-skipping tax
Transfers between spouses are excluded from these taxes, and when an individual dies
without his or her assets exhausting the basic exclusion amount, any unused basic exclusion amount passes to his or her surviving spouse, with a top basic exclusion amount of $10.98 million for 2017. When a beneficiary receives property from an estate, the beneficiary generally takes a basis in that property equal to its fair-market value at the time the decedent dies, which is known as taking a step-up in basis. However, when a donee receives a gift from a living donor, that donee generally takes the donor’s basis in that property, which is known as taking a carryover basis.

Please note: for the Act to pass, only two Republican senators can oppose it.  Otherwise, the Act will be defeated just as was Obamacare repeal.

By Kevin Staker

October 20, 2017

IRS Announces Increased Estate and Gift Tax Exemptions and Increased Annual Gift Tax Exclusion for 2018 – By Kevin Staker

Filed under: estate tax,estate tax news,Kevin Staker — Kevin Staker @ 8:32 am
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The Internal Revenue Service has announced adjustments for inflation in the estate/gift tax exemption and the annual gift tax exclusion for 2018.  In IRS press release IR-2017-178, released on Oct. 19, 2017, announced a number of adjustments for inflation.  The press release can be found at https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/in-2018-some-tax-benefits-increase-slightly-due-to-inflation-adjustments-others-unchanged.

Two of the adjustments are important for estate tax planning.

The figure for the estate tax exemption, the gift tax exemption, and the generation-skipping transfer tax exemption will be increased from $5,490,000 in 2017 to $5,600,000 in 2018.  Hence, a couple can pass along a total of $11,200,000 in assets to individuals without incurring any death tax.  A couple can do this using what is commonly called an “A-B Trust” or just relying on what is called estate tax portability.

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.

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

 

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