Masterson Receives Registration by US Patent and Trademark Office

Serving as a Trustee of a Trust can be a daunting process for even the most well-prepared person.   The personal liability for a Trustee can be overwhelming, if the Trustee is even aware of it.  Steve Masterson, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, has developed and implemented a review process that can be used by a Trustee, or a Beneficiary of a Trust, to evaluate what kind of job the Trustee is doing managing the Trust.  Masterson calls the review process Trustee Scorecard®.

On Tuesday, October 30, 2012, the US Patent and Trademark Office awarded trademark registration of the term Trustee Scorecard® to S&K Ventures, LLC, an Idaho limited liability company controlled by Masterson.

A Trustee’s duties are described in trust documents and in applicable State laws. These duties carry significant personal obligations and liability. Fiduciary litigation is very costly and fiduciary duties can be unexpectedly broad.  Trustee Scorecard® assists a Trustee in assessing the extent to which he or she is meeting the requirements of the relevant trust documents and applicable State and federal laws. After a thorough review of relevant documents and other materials, a Trustee Scorecard® report is delivered detailing strengths and weaknesses, and where applicable, recommendations for improvement.

Trustee Scorecard® is appropriate for Trustees of irrevocable trusts and revocable trusts  where the Trustee is a different person or entity than the current or future beneficiaries. Beneficiaries, you can take advantage of Trustee Scorecard® to assess the job your Trustee is doing for you.  Trustee Scorecard®  can be used to evaluate individual, professional, or corporate Trustees.

Steve Masterson has 29 years experience managing a wide variety of trust and estate assets, designing estate plans for high net worth clients, and creating custom financial solutions for unique family circumstances. He developed his expertise while working for Gardere & Wynne, LLP, Dallas, Texas, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A, and two independent trust companies.  He holds a B.A. from Dallas Baptist University and completed the Texas Bankers Association School of Trust Banking at Southern Methodist University.

Further information can be found at http://www.idahotrustee.com, by email to samasterson61@gmail.com, at www.facebook.com/TrusteeScorecard.

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Omissions Are [Still] Not Ambiguous

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The Power of Words

The words we use can fall flat or they can be powerful.  You must watch this video and then use the idea to re-evaluate how you say what you say, about yourself and about your business.

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Entrepreneurialism and Jobs

A departure here from my usual posts regarding trusts and estates, but I’m an entrepreneur offering several services and products within three separate entities. The article by Walter Russell Mead to which I’ve linked below hits the nail on the head with regard to the current issues we face in our economy. It’s a long article, so I’ll include the most pertinent quote first, then the link to the article.

“Currently, the American legal and regulatory system is set up to bind as many people to employers as possible. The government wants you to be a wage slave and sets up a regulatory framework that keeps as many of us as possible yoked to bosses and management. The IRS doesn’t like the self-employed, fearing they many conceal income. Banks and credit card companies view such people with suspicion, and it is notoriously difficult for start ups and part time enterprises to have access to formal finance. Many services are hard for the self-employed to get on terms like those made available to employees of large corporations: from health insurance to retirement planning, many things are harder and more expensive for the self-employed. The payroll tax system is brutal: the self-employed pay both the employer and employee halves of Social Security and Medicare taxes, almost 20 percent of income and likely to go higher. Many cities will tack on unincorporated business taxes, mass transit taxes, and other interesting feudal exactions and dues.

“There are other, subtler ways in which the current system favors old style large employers over small firms.  The cost of hiring people can be prohibitively high for small businesses: the paperwork involved in hiring so much as a cleaning person or babysitter can be cumbersome.  Hiring full time workers involves negotiating the requirements for worker compensation, unemployment insurance and much else. The cost of these barriers cannot be calculated: jobs foregone, businesses stifled in their cradles, ideas untested, innovations untried.

“In order to create the kind of job and service explosion that can provide better incomes for more Americans going forward, the government needs to shift policy. It must favor the small firm and entrepreneur: the owner-proprietor group needs to become the apple of the government’s eye. Their taxes should be cut; their paperwork burdens drastically reduced; regulations should be rewritten and simplified to meet their needs.”

Beyond Blue 5: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

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Death Tax on the Middle Class

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana) attempted to sneak this provision into the transportation bill currently working it’s way through the Senate. It was removed, but Baucus has made it clear that this is a high priority for him. By taking away distribution options from an inherited IRA or an inherited 401K, Baucus’ provision forces an acceleration of the income tax.  Check it out:

Five-year Rule Proposal

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Estate Tax Attorney and Accountant Full Employment Act of 2012

Of course, that is not the title of any piece of legislation, pending or passed. In Obama’s budget proposal, presented the other day, tax rates are raised for the mostly hard-earned (and previously taxed) assets of dead people. In addition, several planning techniques are attacked that will make planning a bit more difficult.

But the truth is, just like during earlier times of even higher estate tax rates, those wealthy families who are willing to pay attorneys and accountants to plan appropriately will substantially mitigate or even avoid the estate tax.  Those estates that will actually get socked with the higher rates are those where the dead person was not willing to pay to plan.

Another bone to pick here is that FOB (friend of Barack) Warren Buffett (whose estate will pay zero estate tax) owns several life insurance companies. One of the most common ways to fund large estate tax bills is to buy loads of life insurance. FOB Warren is getting rewarded for his support.

Here is an article from Forbes that goes through the details of the proposal. I don’t agree with including “Wealth Advisors” in the title since those advisors will make more money by designing and implementing new estate plans to mitigate the increased tax burden.

Obama Declares War on Rich Folks and Wealth Advisors

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Selecting a Trustee: Other Considerations

What criteria do you use to choose a fiduciary or to assist a client in choosing a fiduciary?

Many of us, particularly those of us who are professional advisors, are familiar with many of the legal, financial, and even risk considerations when choosing an appropriate Trustee.  The author of the article to which I’ve linked below raises questions that probably should be part of the process of choosing a Trustee.  In particular, these are questions which most corporate fiduciaries are ill-equipped to address; rather, with corporate fiduciaries it depends upon the approach of the individual trust officer.

Selecting a Trustee

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Social Media and the Family Brand

The article to which I’ve linked below was written in the context of wealth planning; that is, issues arising from the use of social media can affect the protection/preservation of a family’s wealth. More importantly, the issues addressed in the article should be of concern to every family/person/business as case law and legislation develops.

New Risks to Family Cohesiveness:Damage to the Family Reputation or Family Brand


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Why do families fight over an inheritance?

After 28 years+ of experience settling estates and trusts, I could tell many stories about family disputes over an inheritance.  Even in families that otherwise seem perfectly functional, things can get weird very quickly after the death of a patriarch or matriarch.  Of course, these dynamics keep me in business as a neutral third party trustee/personal representative or as an expert witness.

Mark Accettura has a book out, Blood & Money: Why Families Fight Over an Inheritance and What to do About It.  I couldn’t agree more with Mark’s assessment as to the reasons families go at each other when dad dies.  Read his recent article on the subject here:

Why Families Fight Over Inheritance

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PI+ Press Release

Contact: Pat Wardian
Telephone: 208-664-8980
Email: pat@wardianwealth.com


Personal Injury Plus, also known as PI+, has been formed to provide litigation support and case management for personal injury lawsuits. Personal injury claimants and their attorneys now have a new resource with which to maximize settlement dollars, mitigate attorney fiduciary liability, and provide ethical pre and post settlement case management that is claimant centered. This resource team made up of Pat Wardian, Steve Masterson, and Dan Brownell has over 75 years of combined experience and expertise.

Pat Wardian is President and CEO of Wardian Wealth Management and Wardian Insurance. Wardian is an Investment Advisor Representative who specializes in the Lifetime Income Planning Asset Cycle Portfolio System ® which utilizes formulaic investing strategies and annuities in the area of retirement planning. As part of PI+, Wardian provides claimants and their attorneys with asset management advice and services, wealth preservation planning, and asset protection planning.

Steve Masterson, President of Trust Solutions, has over 28 years experience managing a wide variety of trust and estate assets, designing estate plans for high net worth clients, and creating custom financial solutions for unique family circumstances. Steve is a private fiduciary, a Trust consultant, and an expert witness in fiduciary litigation. As part of PI+, Masterson provides Trust Solutions as a more advantageous alternative to traditional structured settlements.

Dan Brownell is a Rehabilitation Consultant who spent 29 years working in the Rehabilitation Division of the Idaho Industrial Commission. Brownell is a Certified Environmental Access Consultant, was a key part of the Idaho Assistive Technology Project, and played an early role with Transitional Employment Services for the Handicapped (TESH). As part of PI+, Brownell provides claimants and their attorneys with vocational assessments, employability reports, specialized job placement assistance, ergonomic and assistive technology analysis, home industrial environmental access evaluations, and home durable medical supply and installation services. Brownell also serves as an expert witness.

PI+ is an affiliation between Pat Wardian, Steve Masterson, and Dan Brownell, none of whom are attorneys. Neither PI+ nor any of its affiliates offer legal advice or representation.

Attorneys and Personal Injury claimants may contact Pat Wardian at 208-664-8980 in order to realize the benefits of this team of professionals. Initial consultation is complementary.

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