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Search for Unclaimed Property

The Illinois State Treasurer, Michael Frerichs, is holding billions of dollars in unclaimed property belonging to individuals or their heirs who are unaware of, have forgotten about, or didn’t realize they inherited. This includes dormant financial assets such as

  • checking and savings accounts
  • uncashed wage and payroll checks
  • uncashed stock dividend checks
  • certificated shares of stock
  • security deposit refunds
  • utility deposits
  • traveler’s checks
  • mineral proceeds
  • court deposits
  • uncashed death benefit checks
  • life insurance proceeds

When the account holders are unable to locate the original owners, the Treasurer’s office takes custody of these intangible financial assets, and it holds them in perpetuity until they are claimed by the owners or their heirs.

The Treasurer also receives the contents of inactive safe deposit boxes which it holds for five (5) years. If the owner or heirs have not made a claim within that time, the Treasurer may auction items such as jewelry, coins or stamps.

The good news is that there is a free, quick, and simple search tool that will tell you if any unclaimed property is being held under your name, or under the name of a loved one. You can search for your unclaimed property at this link: If you find items under your name you can make an online claim directly to the Treasurer. Upon submission of the proper verification and identification, the Treasurer’s office will return the unclaimed property to its rightful owner(s) without a fee.

We have seen firsthand that the system works. Several of our clients or their estates have already made claims resulting in thousands of dollars’ worth of unclaimed property being returned to them.

Taxpayers can deduct up to $300 in charitable contributions without itemizing

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (The CARES Act) includes several temporary tax law changes to help charities. This includes the special $300 deduction designed especially for people who choose to take the standard deduction, rather than itemizing their deductions.

This change allows individual taxpayers to claim a deduction of up to $300 for cash donations made to charity during 2020. This deduction lowers both adjusted gross income and taxable income – translating into tax savings for those making donations to qualifying tax-exempt organizations.

Before making a donation, taxpayers should check the Tax Exempt Organization Search tool on to make sure the organization is eligible for tax deductible donations.

Cash donations include those made by check, credit card or debit card. They don’t include securities, household items or other property. Though cash contributions to most charitable organizations qualify, some don’t. People should review Publication 526, Charitable Contributions for details. Cash contributions made to supporting organizations are not tax deductible.

Signing Wills and Powers of Attorney in the Time of COVID-19

For centuries, the law in Illinois has required that Wills and other estate planning documents be signed in the presence of two witnesses. This has been the law even during times of depression and war.  Social distancing in the time of COVID-19 has made it necessary to temporarily change the rules concerning the signing and witnessing of these types of documents. Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order makes it lawful to sign such documents via two-way audio-visual video conferences during which the testator is deemed to be “in the presence” of the witnesses (and a Notary, if necessary) via remote video teleconferencing.


Because COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease, patients in the hospital are not allowed to have visitors and do not have the ability to sign a new Will, change an existing Will, or execute Powers of Attorney for Health Care or for Property. Our firm’s virtual signing capabilities can be invaluable in such situations.


Even as we strive to stay safe and healthy by practicing social distancing, we are utilizing the Governor’s Executive Order to assist our clients with the signing of their Powers of Attorney, new Wills or changes to their existing Wills.  We have carefully studied the Governor’s Executive Order, and we have mastered the technique for the remote signing of these important documents.  It would be our honor to assist you or your loved ones with the preparation and virtual signing of any or all of these important documents.  Please do not hesitate to call upon us if we can be of help.



The New SECURE Act for Retirement Accounts

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act was signed into law at the end of 2019, and it brings with it the most significant changes to retirement planning in over a decade.

Without a doubt, the SECURE Act will impact millions of Americans. The law’s major provisions are:

• Lowers costs for small employers who want to set up retirement plans for their employees;

• Increases the availability of annuities inside retirement accounts; and

• Makes major required minimum distribution (RMD) rule changes around the age and timing of withdrawal from retirement accounts by owners and beneficiaries.


Overview of Key Provisions of SECURE Act

1. No more “Stretch” for Inherited IRAs Under prior law, non-spouse beneficiaries of IRAs or other retirement plans could “stretch” the required minimum distributions (RMDs) from the plan over their own life expectancy. Under the SECURE Act, the beneficiary has only 10 years after the year of the account owner’s death to withdraw the entire retirement account (unless the beneficiary meets the definition of an “eligible beneficiary” under the SECURE Act.) This will significantly accelerate the distributions & resulting income tax on most retirement plans left to non-spouse beneficiaries.

(Some beneficiaries are exempted from the 10-year stretch rule: surviving spouses, minor children up until the age of majority, individuals within 10 years of age of the deceased, the chronically ill and the disabled.)

2. IRA Contributions after age 70.5 Under the old law, people who continued to work after age 70.5 could not continue to make contributions to a traditional IRA. Under the SECURE Act, those working past age 70.5 can contribute up to $7,000 ($14,000 for a couple) to a traditional or Roth IRA, provided that they have earned income in that year and meet certain additional requirements.

3. RMD beginning date raised to age 72 Previously, RMDs were mandatory for individuals starting at age 70.5. Under the SECURE Act, the new age for mandatory RMDs is raised to age 72. However, for those who reach age 70.5 by the end of 2019, your required beginning date remains age 70.5.

Next Steps: If your estate contains one or more IRA, 401(k) or other retirement accounts, we encourage you to contact the attorneys at Schlack & McGinnity to review your beneficiary designations and to ensure that your retirement accounts are set up in the most advantageous way for your intended beneficiaries.