California Estate Planning Blog by Kevin Staker

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 ( 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

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, 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to Unsavory Avoidance Tactics, speaks of the reasons for or against repeal of the Federal Gift Tax if the estate tax is repealed as part of the Republican’s tax reform effort in 2017.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 Many think if the estate tax is repealed, the gift tax should be as well.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

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



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

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

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

By Kevin Staker

February 10, 2017

Top Four Estate Disputes of 2016 by Kevin Staker

Filed under: Kevin Staker,Uncategorized — Kevin Staker @ 5:11 pm

Top Four Estate Disputes of 2016 by Kevin Staker

Several famous people left behind a mess in their estate planning, or better put, lack of estate planning.

Tom Clancy

The famous author died in 2013 but the fight over his estate, estimated at $80 million, came to a head in 2016.   The issue was who should pay the estate tax.  His widow just clearly not liable but the question was whether his two children with the widow would bear some of the tax or would only his four children from before would pay all of $11.85 million.  They lost.  Pity the poor attorney who drafted the codicil at issue.  He even testified this is not what Clancy intended.  Rather pity his malpractice carrier.

Jose Fernandez

The Miami Marlins crashed his boat in the middle of the night.  Appears his mother is sole beneficiary of his trust.  His girlfriend, pregnant with his child apparently, gets nothing.  However, likely child can argue “pretermitted” status, in other words forgotten in plan, and so would likely get half.

Frank Sinatra, Jr.

The son of Ol’ Blue Eyes, the Chairman of the Board, died in March 2016.  What a mess.  Divorced wife in 2001, but continued to live together.  In 2013, when here stopped paying alimony, she filed for divorce arguing they had a common law marriage.  She was correct under Texas law, assume that is where they lived.  California no such thing.  He appealed.  Then died.  Appeals court ruled not a common law marriage; keys: filed separate tax returns and bought home as tenants in common.  Could have been avoided by following advice of attorney.


This is the worst one.  Prince dies without a Will in April.   Apparently he would have intended estate to go only to his youngest sister.  Instead she has to share with his five half-siblings he apparently was not fond of.  Yikes!


Please go see an attorney and get your estate planning done.


By Kevin Staker

February 6, 2017

The Personal Biography Website of Kevin Staker

Filed under: Kevin Staker — Kevin Staker @ 11:19 am

The Personal  Biography Website of Kevin Staker

The website with the personal biography of Kevin Staker is at  Kevin Staker is a Camarilo, California, living trust and probate attorney.  He also has a practice in Probate Mediation and Trust Mediation.  That website is found at  Kevin Staker brings over 35 years of experience as an estate planning and taxation attorney.

Also, the Visual CV of Kevin Staker is found at

Kevin Staker

January 14, 2017

Estate Tax is Irrelevant for Substantially All Americans but the Step Up in Basis Is Very Valuable for Them by Kevin Staker

Filed under: estate tax,Kevin Staker — Kevin Staker @ 10:33 am
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Estate Tax is Irrelevant for Substantially All Americans but the Step Up in Basis Is Very Valuable for Them

The federal estate tax exemption is 5 million, indexed for inflation since 2010. “Portability” allows a surviving spouse to use the unused federal estate tax exemption of their deceased spouse.  The exemption in 2017 is $5,490,000.  Thus, a couple can transfer nearly $11 million to their children or other beneficiaries at their deaths without any federal estate tax.

The basis of appreciated assets is “stepped-up” (or down) to fair market value at death.  This eliminates any built-in capital gain on these assets. This happens even if the estate is not subject to estate tax.  For example, the estate is less than the federal exemption or passes to a surviving spouse.

Even the few taxpayers is estate tax territory should think twice before giving assets to their beneficiaries during their.   Even though such transfers would remove the appreciation in the transferred assets from their estate for estate tax purposes, the basis of these assets given away during life is not stepped-up at their deaths. Thus, the donees are stuck with their likely low income tax basis, and so income tax may be paid if the donee sells the asset.

Therefore, the benefit of the estate tax savings achieved by transferring an asset during a taxpayer’s life will likely be outweighed by  the cost of subsequent capital gains taxes when the donees later sell the asset.

By Kevin Staker

January 12, 2017

2017 Will Likely Be an Exciting Year in Estate Planning by Kevin Staker

Filed under: Kevin Staker — Kevin Staker @ 9:54 am

2017 Will Likely Be an Exciting Year in Estate Planning by Kevin Staker

  • Congress with the signature of President Trump is likely to change the estate tax law.
  • President Trump will likely have his IRS change a number of Treasury Regulations regarding the Estate Tax.
  • Take into account the Federal legislative process.
  • There will be many tax legislative proposals and arguments regarding the estate tax in 2017.
  • Get advice on your estate and succession plans as well as business and investment planning.
  • The proposed law and regulatory changes will affect your  business and investment entities, trusts and intra-family transactions.
  • Fully document intra-family transactions and tax plans so as to minimize challenges by the IRS.
  • By Kevin Staker of StakerLaw
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