California Estate Planning Blog by Kevin Staker

November 29, 2013

Some Additional Sites Regarding Kevin Staker of StakerLaw

Filed under: Kevin Staker,Uncategorized — Kevin Staker @ 10:50 am
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Several sites regarding Kevin Staker are the following:

The Merchantcircle site regarding Kevin Staker is This Merchantcircle site has some contact information.

Another site regarding Kevin Staker of StakerLaw is found at This is the YouTube site with a number of videos from the travels of Kevin Staker.

The site at PRLog regarding a press release and Kevin Staker is found at   This related to a temporary change in his estate planning blog.
Yet another site regarding Kevin Staker is found at  This is a Xing site and has the profile of Kevin Staker. has some interesting information on Kevin Staker.  In particular, it is one of the few websites regarding Kevin Staker that shows his attorney’s fees.  This site is very informative.  This site on Kevin Staker can be found at

The Vimeo website on Kevin Staker is found at  The Vimeo site has several videos posted by Kevin Staker.  In particular, this site has the Living Trust video seminar of Kevin Staker.

Whatever happened to MySpace?  Time was when it was more popular than Facebook.  Justin Timberlake invested in it to revive it but his efforts appear unsuccessful. Notwithstanding, the MySpace profile of Kevin Staker can be found at


March 13, 2010

Estate Tax News – March 13, 2010 by Kevin Staker

Filed under: estate tax,Other Kevin Staker Blogs — Kevin Staker @ 1:22 pm
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The Frum Forum has interesting dueling articles on Why the GOP Should Support the Death Tax and Why the GOP Should Oppose the Death Tax.   The Republican  Party has long opposed the federal estate tax.

In his article,Cetulus”, apparently a pen name for an estate planning attorney who wants to remain anonymous to his Republican clients, argues not only is the estate tax a great deal for taxpayers, but it is also a sound pro-growth alternative to high marginal income tax rates. Kevin Staker

On the other hand, Brian Domitrovic, a professor at Sam Houston State University and author of Econoclasts, however responds that the estate tax would only discourage work and investment.

Cetulus argues:

The GOP has long stood for a pro-growth tax system.  Thus, Republicans have favored low income tax rates, and have even argued for replacing the income tax with a more growth-friendly tax such as a tax on consumption.  The estate tax, meanwhile, is about as pro-growth a tax as one can hope for.  Not only that, but it has existed for almost 100 years. To create a more pro-growth tax system, Republicans don’t have to design a whole new tax from scratch. A pro-growth tax is already there to be exploited.

Professor Domitrovic, on the other hand, states:

Studies (such as here) of the estate tax have shown that returning to the old rate north of 50% would result in $2 trillion less in gross yearly reported estates. The lost $2 trillion represents both money entrepreneurs will spend and otherwise forsake from making in view of the estate tax, as well as the efforts undertaken (at great expense) to shield inheritances from the code. The efficiency, output, and employment consequences for the economy will be very high if we bail out to a high tax on estates – unless, of course, the self-made are so motivated that all they really care about is the thrill of the chase, or little blue ribbons.

The article in favor of the estate tax is more down to earth and understandable.  The article in opposition really does sound like it is from a college professor.  However, both have great arguments.

By Kevin Staker

March 11, 2010

Estate Tax News – March 11 by Kevin Staker

Filed under: estate tax,Other Kevin Staker Blogs — Kevin Staker @ 1:11 pm
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The Hill in an article by Jay Heflin reports that one of the most powerful business organizations that lobbies Congress has given up for now its quest for full repeal of the estate tax.  They say that:

Democratic control of Congress has prompted the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) to change its tune on estate tax repeal and support a less ambitious approach.

The powerful lobby for small businesses has accepted that it can’t win an outright repeal of the tax in this political climate. So it has backed bipartisan legislation that would create a 35 percent tax on estates worth more than $5 million.

They report that the NFIB believes it can revive a proposal from last year to have an exemption of $5,000,000 and a maximum rate of 35 percent.  The bipartisan bill was proposed by Senators Kyl and Lincoln with the support of 10 Democratic senators.

They report that Senator Kyl recently had told The Hill that:

[H]e opposes creating an estate tax that is retroactive to January because it could create an endless stream of litigation as taxpayers cry foul over being taxed subsequent to receiving their inheritance.

He also floated the idea of presenting taxpayers with a choice of either abiding by current estate tax law or complying with whatever level of tax is created later this year.

They also report that:

[S]ome observers recently told The Hill that the midterm elections in November might prompt congressional action on the tax as lawmakers risk political damage for not fixing the tax sooner and keeping taxpayers in the dark on the issue.

I had seen but failed to note the location of an article that stated that the author believes, and I agree, that the longer Congress delays in acting on the estate tax the more it strengthens the hand of Senator Reid and the other Democratic leaders of preventing an increase in the exemption to $5,000,000 with the 35 percent tax.  The delay would increase chances of a $3,500,000 exemption and 45 percent rate.

Personally I believe they will not act at all and we will go back to $1,000,000 with a top rate of 55 percent in 2011.

By Kevin Staker

March 10, 2010

Estate Tax News – March 10, 2010 by Kevin Staker

The Washington Post reports that Sander Levin, new House Ways and Means Chair, will address the issue of the estate tax.  They say the following:

“Levin said he is determined to make Ways and Means the “focal point” of the policy debate. He said he plans to meet this week with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to work out differences between the two chambers over the estate tax. Kevin Staker

The tax expired in December but is poised to spring back to life, at much higher rates, in January.”

The Wall Street Journal also interviewed Mr. Levin and states the following regarding the estate tax:

“Mr. Levin also said he wanted to create stability in the federal estate tax. The tax lapsed at the beginning of the year but will reappear in 2011, with individuals allowed to exempt as much as $1 million from a top tax rate of 55%. Mr. Levin is proposing a new top tax rate of 45%, while creating a more generous $3.5 million individual exemption.”

Hence, it appears Congress has not forgotten about the estate tax.  However, talk is cheap.  We shall see.

The Huffington Post in a posting by Bill Scher comments favorably on the estate tax in “Super Wealthy Deathly Afraid Estate Tax Would Reduce Deficit” on March 9th.  He thinks the wealthy should “pay their fair share.” Kevin Staker

Scher opposes continuing the Bush tax cuts, and believes  a 35-45 percent estate tax rate is not large enough to help hold down the deficit:

“But those massive tax breaks to the superwealthy don’t quite have the same juice they used to. Especially, the estate tax – levied on the inheritances of the wealthiest heirs in America,”

“This year, because of the Bush tax plan from his first term to gradually phase out the estate tax altogether, the estate tax is literally wiped off the books.”

Schher likes the re-distribution of wealth:

“But in 2011, it returns! Inheritance income above the $2 million threshold would be subject to a 55% tax. And after fanning the flames of deficit hysteria to squelch progressive reforms, corporate lobbyists are terrified that the estate tax would actually help reduce the deficit.”

He cites a Bloomberg report, “‘a revived estate tax at pre-2001 levels would collect more than $34 billion next year and about $410 billion through 2019.’ The wealthiest heirs having to pay their fair share and help cut the deficit. The horror!” Kevin Staker

Scher opines further:

“What’s stunning is the superwealthy’s lobbyist posse and the Senate’s conservative minority could just take what the House has already passed: locking in the estate tax at 45%, while exempting all inheritances below $7 million. That ain’t chump change! But that’s not good enough for the heirs who have no interest in paying their fair share and reducing the deficit.”

One may not agree with Mr. Scher.  However, it least the estate tax is receiving some attention

By Kevin Staker

Temporary Change in Blog Name by Kevin Staker

Filed under: estate tax,Other Kevin Staker Blogs — Kevin Staker @ 1:28 pm
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The federal estate is in disarray.  Congress and the President unfortunately have allowed the estate tax to expire for only one year.  One may, and I am one, oppose the basic concept of the Estate Tax.  The problem is that under present law the Estate Tax will return in 2011 with only a $1,000,000 exemption and a 55 percent top rate.  Human nature what it is, a strong desire to save taxes, rich people who are old or infirm will have an incentive to commit suicide before the end of 2010.  This is horrible tax policy. Kevin Staker

I am following the news daily regarding the moves, or rather the present lack of action, in Congress and by the President regarding the Estate Tax.  My thought is I will post the news I find, hopefully frequently, to aid anyone who wants to be well informed on the Estate Tax.

After the issue gets resolved, hopefully by the end of the year, I will return this theme of this blog back to estate planning in general, in particular, California estate planning. Kevin Staker

My hope that a search for news regarding “estate tax” will yield a link to this blog.  We shall see.  I have set up a search alert. Kevin Staker

By Kevin Staker

March 7, 2010

New House Ways and Means Chair at Least Talking about the Estate Tax

Filed under: Kevin Staker — Kevin Staker @ 1:57 pm
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There is a bit of talk in the House of Representatives about dealing with the Estate Tax. Sander Levin has taken over supposedly temporarily for Charlie Rangel as chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Ways and Means is the tax committee of the House.

An article in Businessweek states that Levin wants to take up the issue of the estate tax.   The committee may turn to addressing the lapsed federal estate tax first, he said.

The article talks about how the tax expired Dec. 31.  This also triggered a limit of  $1.3 million in the “step up” in income tax basis when a person dies.   Otherwise something called “carryover basis,” applies, the basis is otherwise unchanged at death.

This capital gains tax rule is only in force for 2010.

Hand in hand with that rule, unless Congress acts, the estate tax is scheduled to be reinstated in 2011 with a 55 percent rate applicable to bequeathed assets in excess of $1 million.

The House in December backed a 45 percent tax rate on estates that exceed $3.5 million in value for individuals or $7 million for a married couple. Opposing a return of the 55 percent rate in 2011, Senators Jon Kyl, an Arizona Republican, and Senator Blanche Lincoln, an Arkansas Democrat, are pushing an alternative 35 percent tax that exempts the first $5 million of an individual’s estate from tax, or $10 million per couple.

“I think the main point is we have to act,” Levin said in the article. “I think this interval is not helpful; people need to be able to plan.”

This is all well in good.  However, it takes two to tango.  It will be interesting to see if Levin actually pushes the estate tax change and gets the House to pass a bill.  However, getting the Senate to agree is a wholly different matter.

We shall see.

By Kevin Staker

February 20, 2010

Estate Planning Pandemonium

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Staker @ 9:18 pm
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Unfortunately, the future of estate tax law is presently in flux, which makes planning more difficult. Under the present law, on January 1, 2011, the estate tax exemption returns to $1,000,000. However, Congress and the President have been talking about increasing the estate tax exemption from the $1,000,000 to $3,500,000. On the other hand, in 2009 they had been talking about continuing the estate tax in 2010 and keeping the exemption at $3,500,000 and failed to do so. Therefore, we do not presently know whether the estate tax exemption will be $1,000,000, or $3,500,000 or more beginning in 2011.

To protect assets from estate tax, a typical “AB” or “ABC” Trust requires that the share of the Trust assets of the deceased spouse go into the “B” (we call it “Exemption”) Trust. If we were certain the exemption would remain at $1,000,000, we would recommend the trustee actually retitle the assets, using a new taxpayer identification number. This would keep the assets, including any accrued income and appreciation, out of the surviving spouse’s estate.

However, actually retitling assets into the name of the Exemption Trust comes at a price. Because it has its own taxpayer identification number, the Exemption Trust generally must file its own income tax return each year. If the estate tax was a certainty, the fees for such returns would pale in comparison to the estate tax that the trust beneficiaries would pay at the death of the surviving spouse (up to 55 cents of every dollar over the estate tax exemption amount). But if the exemption is changed to $3,500,000 (and the assets do not exceed such amount), there will be no estate taxes to worry about, and so funding the Exemption Trust would not justify the added expense. In addition, assets in the Exemption Trust do not get another “step-up in basis” to the fair market value upon the death of the surviving spouse. This means that if the assets appreciate between the deaths of the two spouse, the Trust will have to pay taxes on the gain when the assets are eventually sold (either after the death of the surviving spouse or later).

We will likely finesse the issue on most Trusts where the first spouse dies in 2010. We will do the allocation on paper, likely fund the home into the “A” Trust, and wait to see what happens later in the year.

Kevin Staker

January 9, 2010

Personal Note by Kevin Staker: How Blessed We Are

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Staker @ 2:06 pm

We really are blessed to need to do estate planning. This video from our trip to Kenya, despite the paid for exuberance, gives a glimpse at true poverty:

Kevin Staker

June 13, 2009

Personalized Web Address of Kevin Staker on Facebook

Filed under: Kevin Staker,Other Kevin Staker Blogs,Uncategorized — Kevin Staker @ 2:24 pm

Facebook now allows a personalized web address for its users.  Before each user just had a number assigned as part of their web address.  The Facebook address of Kevin Staker has now been changed.  It is

Facebook is the main social media site of Kevin Staker.

June 11, 2009

SuperLawyers of Kevin Staker

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Staker @ 5:36 am

The SuperLawyers listing of Kevin Staker is located at (pretty long url, no?).  Kevin Staker is an estate planning attorney in Camarillo, California

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