Carol K. Kao


  • Education: UCLA, cum laude, B.A. • USC, J.D.
  • Admitted: State of CA, 1991


For over 24 years, Carol Kao has provided confidential personal estate and tax planning services to private clients.  Her practice focuses on wealth transfers for successful families, sophisticated estate and gift tax saving techniques, charitable planned giving, family private foundations, business succession planning, complex probate and trust administrations, and resolving estate and gift tax audits.  Prior to joining Withers, Ms. Kao was a partner in the law firm of Luce Forward Hamilton & Scripps LLP/McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP.  Ms. Kao was also a certified public accountant with Arthur Andersen before starting her legal career.

Ms. Kao has been named as one of the "Best Lawyers in America" since 2006. She has also been named one of "Southern California Super Lawyers," and ranked as one of the "Top 25 Women Attorneys" and one of the "Top 50 Attorneys" in San Diego by San Diego Super Lawyers.


  • The Best Lawyers in America® - 2006 to 2016 (Trusts and Estates)
  • San Diego Super Lawyers - 2006 to 2016 (Estate Planning & Probate)
  • Top 50 San Diego Super Lawyers - 2008 to 2011
  • Top 25 Women San Diego Super Lawyers - 2007 to 2013
  • Recipient of State Bar of California's Wiley W. Manuel Award for Pro Bono Legal Services
  • Recipient of San Diego Volunteer Program's Distinguished Service Award
  • The Daily Transcript: San Diego County Top Attorneys - 2011 - Estate Planning/Probate & Trust
  • Martindale-Hubbell® AV Rating

Civic Activities

  • Member of the Planned Giving Committee of University of California, San Diego
  • Past Member of the Board of Directors and Secretary of Make-a-Wish Foundation of San Diego


  • Fellow of the American College of Trust & Estate Counsel
  • Certified Public Accountant, California (Inactive)
  • Former Executive Committee Member of California State Bar, Trusts & Estates Section (Past Chair of Education Committee and Past Chair of Income and Transfer Tax Committee)
  • Past chair of California State Bar Tax-Exempt Organizations Committee (also served as Chair-elect and Vice-chair)
  • Co-author of Chapter on Regulation of Fundraising in CEB's Advising California Nonprofit Corporations (Second Edition, 1998)
  • Contributing author of Chapter on Ancillary Probate in CEB's California Decedent Estate Administration
  • San Diego County Bar Association
  • La Jolla Estate Planning Trust and Probate Section
  • Pan Asian Lawyers of San Diego


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