Greetings from Woodward Financial Advisors! We hope this e-newsletter finds you well. The holiday season is often a hectic time of the year, but we hope you will find a few moments to read our December e-newsletter. Keep reading to learn more about a possible solution to your estate planning woes, new retirement contribution limits for 2019, practical action items from the most recent major data breach, and finally, how various WFA advisors have been learning and contributing over the past months.
Are You Struggling to Name a Trustee?
Many of our clients have thoughtfully designed their estate plans to create a trust at their passing, to allow for assets to be managed on behalf of spouses and/or other heirs after their deaths. But they sometimes struggle with determining who should oversee the trust, a role known as a Trustee.

Faced with this decision, some folks quickly default to a family member, which is understandable. But before doing so, it’s important to consider how any long-term family dynamics could be impacted if one family member needed to regularly ask another family member for funds, either for themselves or for their children. Additionally, the full administrative obligations of serving as a Trustee may be more than someone wishes to take on.

Despite often being asked, Woodward Financial Advisors cannot serve as a Trustee for compliance reasons. And we’re reluctant to recommend most corporate Trustees, due to high fees, impersonal service, and overly expensive proprietary investment options.

But that all changed a few years ago with the emergence of Advisors Private Wealth Trust (APWT), an independent trust company started by financial advisors. APWT exists to serve the administrative functions of a trustee that Woodward Financial Advisors legally cannot, while still preserving Woodward’s ability to manage assets in accordance with our clients’ long-standing goals and values. This arrangement is possible when a trust document is worded properly and calls for the bifurcation of specific duties, with the administrative roles served by one entity and the investment management role served by another.

Over the last few years, many clients have named APWT as the successor Trustee in their trust documents, providing for a “backstop” trustee if their original choices decline, are deceased, or are otherwise unable to fulfill the duties of a trustee. In some cases, beneficiaries of existing trusts have exercised their right to remove a previously named corporate trustee and name APWT instead, which has allowed them to have all their various accounts under the Woodward umbrella at a much lower cost.

With APWT as a partner, we’re now able to offer the personal trust services that clients have been asking about for years. Our clients are relieved that we’ll be able to continue serving their families for generations, rather than being shunted to some 1-800 helpline. Let us know if you’d like to talk about our personal trust services at your next meeting. 

- Written by Ben Birken, CFP ®
Changes to Retirement Plan Contribution Limits in 2019
The new year will usher in raises to the dollar amounts that can be contributed to a variety of tax-deferred and tax-free accounts. Below are the 2019 contribution limits for several well-known types of accounts.

For clients currently participating in workplace retirement plans and wanting to contribute the maximum for 2019, it’s a good idea to revisit your salary deferral amounts on file to ensure they account for the increased contribution limits. 
-Written by Austin Brown, CFP ®
Takeaways from the Marriott Hotels
Data Breach
On November 30 th , Marriott hotels reported that someone had hacked their system and potentially obtained names, addresses, contact information and passport numbers of up to 500 million people who had stayed at a Marriott/Starwoods property.

This is sadly becoming more of a regular occurrence, as Marriott joins Yahoo, eBay, Equifax and the US government on this list of all-time largest data breaches.

Every time we see a major breach, we typically receive questions about what folks can do to protect themselves or what they should do in response:

1. Take advantage of offers from the hacked company
Marriott is offering impacted customers free enrollment for one year in WebWatcher, a system designed to monitor sites where hackers regularly share stolen information and alert consumers if there’s any evidence that their information is available. We’re not saying that WebWatcher’s service is good or bad, as we have no experience with their software. But the company appears to have a solid reputation, and a year’s worth of monitoring is better than nothing at all.

2. Freeze your credit at the major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax)
With a credit freeze, no one (including you!) can open credit accounts in your name until or unless the freeze is lifted. You can learn more about credit freezes on the Federal Trade Commission’s website, at

3. Opt out of prescreened credit offers
Credit freezes are a good tool, but they aren’t cure-alls and they won’t stop you from getting prescreened credit offers. If you don’t want to receive those solicitations in the mail, call 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688) or visit . You can opt out of offers for 5 years (renewal required) or forever.

4. Change your passwords and consider using a password manager
We’ve written many times about the importance of using strong passwords, not repeating passwords, and regularly changing them. Password managers like LastPass, 1Password and Dashlane are good tools to avoid having an easily accessible list of all your passwords.

5. Be vigilant
Ultimately, there’s only so much action you can take after a hack like this. Credit freezes may protect you from having accounts opened in your name. But they won’t protect you if a scammer emails you, pretends to be from Marriott, and fraudulently offers you something in exchange for you providing your financial information. Don’t do it!

-Written by Ben Birken, CFP ®
Where in the World is Woodward?
Pictured above: Austin Brown's family - Nora (8), Betty, and Andrew (6) at Golden Gate National Recreation Area (Austin is behind the camera.)
While travels remained domestic, team members journeyed to various regions and cities throughout the country to learn, grow, contribute, and enjoy new experiences.

  • In August, Austin Brown took his month-long sabbatical. (Every team member at WFA is eligible for a one-month sabbatical following five years of employment.) During the first part of the month, he and his family traveled to California to visit San Francisco, Monterey and Sacramento.  Austin really enjoyed exploring Alcaltraz and the California Academy of Sciences with his wife, Betty, daughter, Nora, and son, Andrew. On the way to Monterey, they stopped in Big Basin Redwood State Park where the kids got to experience massive redwood trees for the first time. They spent the better part of a day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which Austin highly recommends. The final stop was Sacramento to revisit where Austin lived and worked while volunteering with AmeriCorps. His children especially enjoyed the train museum in Old Sacramento. Austin reported that while he finished several projects around the house upon returning from CA, the home "to-do" didn't get any shorter!
  • Jim Miller is serving a three year term on the TD Ameritrade “Advisor Panel,” which is a group of twenty of the leading wealth management firms in the United States. The panel meets quarterly to workshop ways of improving TD’s service to our clients. This quarter Jim met at their new headquarters in Dallas, TX.
  • In October, Ben Birken attended the Fall Conference of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) in Philadelphia, PA to learn more about tax and trust planning under the new tax laws, the impact of Artificial Intelligence on businesses, and how to manage risk in the Information Age. 
  • Jim Miller attended the Dimensional Fund Advisors “Advanced Conference” in Austin , TX in October. This two-day invitation only event brings some of academia’s top speakers on markets, investing, and business practices.
  • Jim Miller attended a TD Ameritrade practice management workshop in Charlotte, NC in October. This full day session was an opportunity to listen to some of the professions' top practice management experts as well as share ideas with advisor peers from across the Southeast.
  • Allison Palmer and Roni Pflueger represented WFA at the NC Chamber event "Women>A Force in Business" on October 30th at the Raleigh Convention Center. They spent the day talking to attendees about WFA's services and attending conference sessions focused on topics relevant to professional women.
  • On Nov. 29, Allison Palmer led a seminar for UNC-Chapel Hill faculty and staff called “Financial Considerations for the Sandwich Generation.” The subject matter addressed balancing key financial goals when in between raising children and caring for aging parents. These goals include funding college, planning for retirement, and covering long-term care costs. The seminar was well attended and WFA hopes to be called on again as a resource. 
  • On December 13th, Ben Birken will be speaking about Financial Fitness at the Levin Jewish Community Center in Durham as part of, a series of free mini-courses designed for the community.
Thank you for reading our December e-newsletter! Happy Holidays!

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