Our offices will be closed on Monday, December 26th. We will resume normal business hours on Tuesday, December 27th.
Last month Melani began working on coursework to become a Registered Paraplanner. She is scheduled to finish the program in early 2017 and will enable her to be more involved in assisting the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS™ in constructing plans for our clients. We are excited for her to earn this certification as it will help better assist our client needs.
We are elated to announce that Samantha has passed her CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ exam! We would like to congratulate her on this huge accomplishment as well as acknowledge all of the hard work she has put into studying for this exam and just know that she is going to do well. Once she receives her official certification we will have 4 CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS™ in the office to help with your financial planning needs.
The Social Security Administration announced this week that there will be a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 65 million Americans. The increase will be 0.3 percent and will start in January 2017. The intention of the increase is to help offset the rising cost of living for seniors.
Medicare premiums for 2017 have still not been announced. We will keep you posted as soon as they are.
The law requires an increase to your monthly Medicare Part B & D premiums if you have “higher Income”. The higher your income, the more you pay. Most people do not pay the higher premium but we want you to be aware that this might happen if you sell a home or stocks with large capital gains or take large distributions from your IRA accounts because it will increase your AGI. Your 2017 Medicare premium will be based on your Adjustable Gross Income (AGI) from your 2015 tax return. Each year the premium is re-evaluated based on your taxes. If you have a large windfall in one year you will only have to pay the increase for one year and then the premium will go back down.
The following is a table that shows the income amounts that were used in 2016:
The Social Security cost of living increase and Medicare premium increase have not been announced yet but is expected to be less than 1%. The open enrollment period to change your Medicare plan is from October 15-December 7.
It is also that time of year for Open Enrollment if you are employed with benefits. Make sure you review all the benefit options you have and choose what is right for you. Take advantage of Flexible Savings accounts for healthcare or childcare. Has your income increased – did you also increase your 401K contributions?
Note: You can dispute the increase if your income has decreased substantially. The number one reason is due to death of spouse or divorce. The Medicare website has a list of what reasons are acceptable and what you need to do to dispute the increase.
The shocking news that Wells Fargo employees opened 1.5 million unauthorized accounts and 565,000 credit cards has caused concern for Wells Fargo customers everywhere. Wells Fargo has said that they will be contacting customers who they feel may have had accounts wrongfully opened and invite their customers to come into a branch to do a review with a banker. We feel however that it is good to be proactive and instead of waiting for a call, do a little research on your own to protect yourself. Here are some steps you should take if you are worried that you may be a victim of fraudulent activity.
Check your accounts- Look at your Wells Fargo online account, call Wells Fargo or go into a branch to review any accounts in your name. Make sure that you authorized any accounts that were opened in your name. Also, look through each account for any unusual fees or unauthorized money transfers. Wells Fargo has been accused of charging illegal fees on student loans as well as making unauthorized money transfers between accounts that may have caused insufficient funds charges.
Check your credit report- If you haven’t checked your credit report recently you should check it now. You can get a free credit report every year at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/ Look for any unauthorized accounts opened in your name or any unauthorized credit inquiries made by Wells Fargo. If a credit card was opened without your knowledge and there were fees that you were unaware of and were unpaid those may also have been reported to the credit agencies. If you find any discrepancies contact Wells Fargo immediately as well as the credit reporting agencies (Experian, Transunion, Equifax) to dispute the fraudulent activity and have it removed from your report.
If you are unable to have the issue resolved through the bank or credit agencies you can also submit a claim with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau by calling 855-411-2372 or online @ http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/ .
Sandy was invited to speak at The Advisors in Transition meeting on September 14, 2016 at the offices of Brown and Streza in Irvine, California. She was asked to tell the story of how her career started and how she has transitioned through different phases to become the successful financial advisor she is today. This speaking engagement allowed Sandy to share her best practices, help, mentor and inspire other members to grow to new heights.