The Office of the Special Trustee is holding Financial Literacy workshops to help Osage shareholders prepare for the Osage Trust Case Settlement payout Dec. 5.
The first workshop was held Oct. 24 at the Wah Zha Zhi Cultural Center. Eight people attended. The workshops are designed specifically for Osage shareholders, said Brian Ross, OST Fiduciary Trust Officer.
“I customized a lot of information for the settlement audience,” Ross said.
The workshop covered issues such as Sudden Wealth Syndrome; Elder Abuse and Fraud; Credit and Debt; Estate Planning; Investment Options and a general explanation of terms related to shareholders and their IIM accounts.
The OST specializes in information on IIM accounts, the process of quarterly annuity payments, investing of tribal trust funds and financial literacy, Ross said.
For example, a workshop attendee asked whether it was more profitable to leave their settlement money in their IIM account to gain interest or whether it would gain more interest if they transferred it out of their IIM account into a CD or savings account at their bank.
Warren Austin, a former attorney and tax expert who was also giving the OST workshop, said that if the money is left in their IIM account it would have an interest rate of 3.81 percent, higher than any bank in the area because of the current economy.
Austin also explained the ins and outs of tax liabilities, how to minimize taxes on your IIM account money, how to purchase land with restricted money and how to minimize risk when making investments.
Austin stressed the importance of Estate Planning. Without the proper estate planning after a shareholder dies, the state of Oklahoma will divide their assets – the OST can help shareholders set meetings up to get the process started, he said.
One thing all Osages can do to help the OST before and after the settlement disbursement, said Ross, is to scan the OST’s list of those Osage shareholders that the OST cannot find.
“Millions of dollars the OST is holding for people they cannot find,” Ross said.
A list of people the OST cannot locate is on their Web site, but Osages can also come in to the OST’s office on Grandview in Pawhuska and peruse the list, he said.
Officers for the OST can be reached during business hours, Monday thru Friday, or Osage shareholders can ask them to come to their homes and have a one-on-one financial literacy session, Ross said. The shareholder only needs to call and set up an appointment.
The next meetings are scheduled for Oct. 27 from noon to 5 p.m.; Nov. 8 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Nov. 19 from 9 a.m. to noon, all held at the Wah Zha Zhi Cultural Center in Pawhuska.
For more information on the OST visit their Web site at www.doi.gov/ost/fto or contact them at 1-888-678-6836.