Greetings from Woodward Financial Advisors! With end of the year deadlines and holiday activities, December can be quite full. We thank you for taking a few moments to read WFA's final e-newsletter of the year. In this edition, we're delighted to share about an educational event we recently hosted, updates to Social Security benefits as well as retirement account contributions in the New Year, and finally, various panels or conferences that WFA team members participated in over the past few months.
"Aging with Dignity" Event with Amy Florian
Nearly seventy clients and friends joined us on a cold, rainy November evening in Chapel Hill for "Aging with Dignity and Grace," a presentation by acclaimed author and speaker, Amy Florian.
Amy is author of over 150 articles and the book “A Friend Indeed: Help Someone You Love When They Grieve,” which won a 2017 International Book Award. She holds a Master’s Degree and is a Fellow in Thanatology (the highest level of certification in the field of grief studies).
Through stories and research, Amy discussed the vital legal documents we need to have in place, as well as how current law and technology are affecting how we prepare. She emphasized keeping three things in mind: what we know will happen, what might happen, and what we hope will never happen.
In the latter part of the presentation, Amy gave a bird's-eye view of dementia, including the major signs of its progression and which diseases appear to contribute to its onset. Most everyone in the room left with several pieces of homework, such as considering naming a "digital assets agent/trustee", creating or revisiting legal documents, or checking out one of the many helpful resources Amy provided.
Woodward Financial Advisors was delighted to host Amy, and we thank each of you who joined us for "Aging with Dignity." 
Social Security Increase
Social Security recipients will see a modest increase in their gross payments in 2020, as the Social Security Administration announced a 1.6% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for next year. That’s lower than the 2.8% COLA in 2019 and the 2.0% increase in 2018, but it’s in the ballpark (if not higher) than similar increases from 2013-2017. 

Unfortunately, Medicare premiums will also be going up, effectively negating the increase in Social Security benefits. In 2020, the base premium for Medicare Part B will rise to $144.60 from its 2019 level of $135.50, an increase of almost 7%. The “hold harmless” provision of Medicare will limit this increase to the comparable increase in Social Security benefits for anyone who paid their Medicare premiums out of their Social Security check, provided they stay below the income limit for income-related monthly adjustment amounts (IRMAA). New Medicare enrollees, however, will pay the full higher 2020 premium.

For those still paying into Social Security, the maximum amount of earnings subject to Social Security tax will increase from $132,900 to $137,700.
2020 Contribution Limits 
Retirement plan savers will be able to add a little bit more to their accounts in 2020, with moderate increases to how much folks can put into 401k and 403b accounts (including catch-up contributions). We’ve listed the current and new contribution limits below. Note that the IRA contribution limits won’t change in 2020. 
If you are trying to save the maximum amount and your workplace plan doesn’t automatically adjust for new limits, be sure to make your changes before your first paycheck in 2020. 
What's Been Going On at Woodward?
The following are a few things that happened behind the scenes at WFA this past quarter:

  • In September, Jim Miller traveled to Massachusetts to participate in the TD Ameritrade Advisor Panel meeting, which included twenty other leading firms throughout the country. Topics included new charitable giving offerings, technology upgrades, and discussions on transaction pricing.

  • Austin Brown traveled to Chicago for the fall conference of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). He attended sessions ranging from maximizing Social Security and generating income in retirement to managing risk and investing. It was an enriching conference and he looks forward to incorporating what he learned into the service offered to our clients.

  • In October, Jim Miller and Ben Birken met with a dozen or so business school students from UNC Chapel Hill and Elon, to discuss careers in wealth management. The event was sponsored by Fidelity, where the students were able to ask questions about “life as an advisor” and WFA was able to give back to the profession by helping these future advisors.

  • Ben Birken traveled to Charleston in October to participate in the fall meeting of the TD Ameritrade Client Experience Panel, where he was able to provide feedback on TD Ameritrade’s services and learn about forthcoming initiatives and technology updates
Thank you for reading our December e-newsletter. We wish you a peaceful holiday season and joy in the New Year!

Your Friends at Woodward Financial Advisors
Woodward Financial Advisors
1504 East Franklin Street, Suite 105, Chapel Hill, NC 27514.
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