Serving Northern Illinois & Southern Wisconsin Freeport · Orangeville · Stockton · Elizabeth 235-1212 · 789-3390 · 947-2979 · 235-1212 Toll Free 1-800-373-4109 www.plager-law.com L AW U PDATE -W INTER 2010 Personal Notes We are pleased to announce that Crystal Southerland has joined Plager, Krug & Bauer, Ltd. as a Legal Assistant and Tax Paralegal. She is married to Thomas Southerland and has two sons, Kobe and Jacob. Crystal resides in Forreston. We are pleased to announce that Bethanie Litow has joined Plager, CHARLES RUDOLPH Krug & Bauer, Ltd. as an office assistant. Bethanie resides outside of Pearl City with her mother, Helen Litow, and is currently a senior at PLAGER, KRUG & BAUER, LTD. WELCOMES Pearl City High School. CHARLES RUDOLPH Originally from Pearl City, Illinois, Charles Rudolph has returned to Northwest Illinois to Attorney Nicole Bauer and her join attorneys Robert B. Plager, Lyle A. Krug, Nicole M. Bauer, and Jennifer L. Birkholz. As a husband Brian Greene are the native of the area, Mr. Rudolph has an understanding and appreciation for the needs of indi- proud parents of a baby girl, Made- viduals, businesses, and organizations in Freeport and the surrounding communities. lyn Nicole Greene, born on October 26, 2009. Madelyn joins big sisters Mr. Rudolph received his law degree from Northern Illinois University’s College of Law, Natalie and Jen and brother Tom. where he graduated magna cum laude and served as a member of the Board of Editors of NIU’s Law Review. After attending Highland Community College, he received his Bachelor of Steven Conway, son of Legal Assis- Arts Degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. tant Mari Conway and her husband Pete Conway, has returned from his tour of duty in Iraq in the Army In joining the team at Plager, Krug & Bauer, Ltd., Mr. Rudolph will engage in the general infantry. He is currently receiving practice of law with a focus on agricultural, business and commercial transactions, estate additional training at Fort Riley in planning, tax law, and related litigation. Kansas. To schedule an appointment with Charles Rudolph, please call Plager, Krug & Bauer, Ltd. at (815) 235-1212. LAW UPDATE is published semiannually by the law offices of Plager, Krug & Bauer, Ltd., Lincoln-Douglas Center, 10 N. Galena Avenue, Suite 300, P.O. Box 839, Freeport, Illinois, 61032 to provide news about legal developments for their clients and friends. For a free subscription or change of address, contact the Freeport office at 815-235-1212 or toll free at 1-800-373-4109. DISCLAIMER: The information provided in Law Update is not a complete analysis of each topic and does not constitute legal advice regarding an individual’s situation. Readers of Law Update should consult with their attorneys in order to make an informed decision regarding any topic addressed in Law Update. Law Update- Winter 2 010 Page 2 The Federal Estate Tax’s Wild Ride The jokes about how Grandma needs to sleep with Estate Tax to its pre-2001 level. Because Congress has one eye open to protect herself against heirs hoping to not acted to fix this situation, the Estate tax will be re- avoid the estate tax this year may be cliché already, but duced from 35% with $3.5 million dollars in assets ex- they are grounded in reality. The Federal Estate Tax will empt as it was in 2009 to zero in 2010, and then increase change dramatically. to 55% with a $1 million exemption in 2011. In 2001, when Congress passed the Economic To learn about how the changes in the Federal estate Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, the tax will impact your estate planning, and other issues, you estate tax was scheduled to be phased out and com- are invited to attend one of the “Estate Planning in Uncer- pletely eliminated by 2010. Due to the peculiarities of tain Times” seminars hosted by Plager, Krug & Bauer, Ltd. Congress’s budgeting rules, the changes made in the See the back of this newsletter for more information. bill had to expire 10 years after passage, restoring the Ban on Texting While Driving Takes Effect Illinois roads should be a little safer with changes to The ban on texting while driving was not the only the Illinois Vehicle Code that went into effect on January change; any use of cell phones 1, 2010. The change that has received the most atten- in school and construction tion is the ban on texting while driving. The ban goes zones is also prohibited, except beyond prohibiting cell phone text messages. The stat- when the phone is in voice- ute prohibits the use of any electronic communication activated mode. Violations of device to compose, send, or read electronic messages, either of these new laws results so emailing, tweeting, posting to Facebook, and other in a minimum fine of $75. online activities are prohibited as well. The law does not affect the use of GPS navigation systems or devices integrated into the vehicle. New Law Shines a Light on Property Assessments On January 1, 2010, the Homestead Assessment of the new assessment; the percentage change; where Transparency Act took effect, mandating greater trans- practical, the reason for the change; and notice of any parency in the property tax assessment process. The possible homestead exemptions. Accompanying the no- new act requires that each county’s chief assessment tice must be instructions on how to challenge the assess- officer disclose a “plain English” explanation of the as- ment and the deadline by which any appeal must be filed. sessment factors used by local taxing bodies and post The act also requires that each county’s Board of Review these factors on the county’s website. If an assessment provide property owners with a detailed description of the is changed, the act requires that the notice include the procedures and rules used in appeal hearings. amount of the previous year’s assessment; the amount Secretary of State Launches Emergency Contact Database There is a new way to ensure that your loved ones driver’s license database and is accessible to law enforce- are contacted in case of an emergency with the launch ment personnel to be used in emergencies when you are of the Emergency Contacts Database by the Illinois Sec- incapable of communication. Visit retary of State. By visiting the website launched in Au- http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/drivers/e gust 2009, Illinois residents may submit contact infor- cd/home.html for more information or to sign up. mation for two people they wish to be contacted in case of emergency. The information is added to the state’s Law Update-Winter 2010 Page 3 What to ask a wind farm developer to make sure you make the right decision about allowing wind turbine construction on your property Wind farms already provide of your land. If you do not ask a devel- 6.) Is compensation based on a per- enough electricity to power 3.5 million oper the right questions, you may centage of revenue? If so, how will the homes, and with the threat of global make a decision you regret. Below is developer provide information to ensure warming growing more dire and new a list of questions to help you obtain you are being paid fairly? policies designed to spur the develop- the information you need to make a ment of clean energy sources taking wise decision. 7.) Can the developer sell or trans- effect, the boom in wind turbine con- fer its rights to your property without struction is bound to continue. Last 1.) What is the developer’s size your consent? year, these wind farms caused 34 and net worth? Do they have a good reputation in the industry? 8.) How can the agreement be ter- million fewer tons of carbon dioxide minated? Is it voluntary or involuntary? from being released into the atmos- 2.) How many other wind farms Who will be responsible for decommis- phere, the equivalent of taking 5.8 has the developer previously built? sioning and clean-up costs? million cars off the road. Furthermore, Are they comparable to what is pro- the feared harm of decreased prop- posed now? 9.) Will the wind farm impact aerial erty values near wind farms has not spraying? If so will you and your appeared to materialize. In fact, a 3.) What land rights are you sign- neighbors be compensated for being study of property values in the Men- ing over to the developer? Are there made subject to these restrictions? Can dota area, where a wind farm has any activities you would have to stop? the wind farm be designed in a way to been operational since 2003, has Is there anything you would be re- minimize the impact on aerial spraying? shown no noticeable effect on prop- quired to do? For further information about wind erty values. 4.) How firm are the developer’s farms and leases to make an informed However, the benefits of wind plans? Are they committed to building decision on signing a lease or easement farms may come at a cost to the land in the near future, or are they just for the construction of a wind turbine on owners on whose property the wind locking up land for possible construc- your land, please contact Jennifer turbines are built. Having a wind tur- tion sometime in the future? Birkholz, Nicole Bauer, or any other at- bine built on your land is a major deci- torney in the firm. 5.) How will you be compensated? sion, with long-term effects for the use Ten Last Chance Tax Deductions and Credits for 2009 Over the past decade, the bulk of 3) Property Taxes: Whether itemiz- 8) Improvements to Leased Res- the changes Congress has made to ing or taking the standard deduction, taurant and Retail Property: Businesses the tax code have been temporary, taxpayers may deduct up $500 in a leasing retail or restaurant space may either because the change was only single return, or $1000 in a joint re- deduct qualified improvements to the intended to be a temporary benefit, or turn, for property taxes. property over 15 years. because Congress’s budget proce- dures required it. For a number of 4) Charitable Contributions from 9) Enhanced Deductions for Chari- these changes, we have reached their IRA’s: Donations to charity of up to table Donations of Food inventory: Busi- expiration date, and the 2009 tax year $100,000 are excluded from income if nesses may claim an enhanced deduc- is the last year they can be claimed. the donation is made by the trustee of tion for donations of food from inventory As you do your 2009 taxes, keep an IRA directly to the charity. if the donations are to be used solely for these expiring provisions in mind: the care of infants, the poor, or the ill. 5) No Minimum Distribution from 1) Unemployment Benefits: The IRA’s is required. 10) Accelerated Cost Recovery of first $2,400 of unemployment com- Farm Equipment: Farmers may write off 6) Classroom supplies for K-12 the cost of new equipment put to use pensation received is excluded from Teachers: Teachers of grades K-12 income. before January 1, 2010 over five years. may deduct up to $250 for books and 2) Sales and Excise Taxes on new supplies bought out-of-pocket for For further information about tax cars: Taxpayers may deduct the sales classroom use. deductions and credits, please contact or excise taxes paid when purchasing Charles Rudolph, Lyle Krug, Nicole 7) Additional Depreciation for a new vehicle. This deduction is avail- Bauer, or any other attorney in the firm. Businesses: Businesses may claim an able for taxpayers taking the standard additional 50% depreciation on qualify- deduction and also for those itemizing ing machinery and equipment placed their deductions. in service before January 1, 2010. Estate Planning in Uncertain Times What Should You Know About Estate Planning in 2010? * Why must Illinois Estate Tax be considered in my plan? * Federal Estate Tax— Now? 2011? * Do I need a Power of Attorney for Property and Power of Attorney for Health Care? * What is a living trust and should I have one? * How will I pay for nursing home care? * Will changes in the Medicaid laws impact me? * How can I avoid probate? * How can I preserve assets for my family? * How can I control my property now, during disability, and on my death? * Experienced attorneys from Plager, Krug & Bauer, Ltd. will discuss these questions and more, as well as review current trends and developments in estate planning. Please join us for this timely and informative FREE seminar at one of the following locations. February 18, 2010, 1:00 p.m. February 25, 2010, 12:00 p.m. Co-sponsored with COUNTRY INSURANCE AND FINANCIAL SER- Co-sponsored with COUNTRY INSURANCE AND FINANCIAL SER- VICES, BOB DITTMAR AND ADAM MEADOR, VICES, JOE MILLER, at Galena Convention Center at Jo Daviess County Farm Bureau 900 Galena Square Drive, Galena 212 N. Main St., Elizabeth March 2, 2010, 6:30 p.m. March 3, 2010, 10:00 a.m. Co-sponsored with UNION SAVINGS BANK Co-sponsored with COMMUNITY BANK 223 W. Stephenson St., Freeport 401 S. Church St., Orangeville March 4, 2010, 6:30 p.m. March 8, 2010, 7:00 p.m. Co-sponsored with KENT BANK-FREEPORT Co-sponsored with LENA STATE BANK 996 West Fairview Rd., Freeport 915 S. Logan, Lena March 11, 2010, 1:00 p.m. March 18, 2010, 1:00 p.m. Co-sponsored with FORRESTON STATE BANK Co-sponsored with COUNTRY INSURANCE AND FINANCIAL SER- 202 Main St., Forreston VICES, RICK WILSON, at Stephenson County Farm Bureau 210 W. Spring St., Freeport March 23, 2010, 1:00 p.m. March 25, 2010, 1:00 p.m. Co-sponsored with STATE BANK OF DAVIS Co-sponsored with COUNTRY INSURANCE AND FINANCIAL SER- 100 Rt. 75, Davis VICES, BILL BRIGGS, at Country Inn & Suites, 200 Dillon Ave., Stockton March 25, 2010 6:30 p.m. April 14, 2010, 3:00 p.m. Co-sponsored with FIRST STATE BANK SHANNON-POLO-LAKE Co-sponsored with STATE BANK at Country Inn & Suites, CARROLL at 1 S. Linn St., Shannon 1710 S. Dirck Dr., Freeport Reservations Requested (No Charge) 815-235-1212 or 1-800-373-4109 Return Service Requested Freeport, IL 61032 Permit No. 71 Freeport, IL P.O. Box 839 PAID U.S. Postage 10 North Galena Avenue, Suite 300 PRESORTED STANDARD PLAGER, KRUG & BAUER, LTD.