I once had a client who asked me to create a comprehensive estate plan, the whole package: trust, will, power of attorney, etc. It was exactly what she needed.
So I drafted the documents, she signed them. She died about a year later.
At this point, you may be thinking, “But good thing she had estate planning documents, though, right?” There was just one problem:
There was no money left in the estate for the heirs.
My client spent all this time and thought and money for a great estate plan that was ultimately (essentially) useless because she spent all her money.
Most people want an estate plan primarily to make it easier for their loved ones to get the property you leave them. But if you don’t have any property to leave, then the plan doesn’t do much.
The point is this: Estate planning is much broader than simply creating legal documents that pass on your “stuff.” It also involves creating a financial plan to make sure you have “stuff” to pass on.
Personal finance is crucial to estate planning.
Think of estate planning as the process of creating a “life plan.” You start at point A, you die at point B, and your loves ones receive your estate at point C.
Legal documents can help move your estate from point B to point C, but financial planning and financial literacy are what get you from point A to point B. (Though a power of attorney is also very important in this regard.)
Because financial planning is so intertwined with estate planning, I decided to go a little outside my ordinary blogging ambit and put together a list of the 15 best personal finance blogs and websites (in no particular order):
This is my favorite personal finance site. First of all, it’s pretty. Second (and more importantly), it offers a depth and breadth of useful information presented in bite-size chunks that make it very easy to read.
Basically the opposite of The Penny Hoarder in terms of “prettyness.” However, contrary to many personal finance blogs promoting a “get rich quick” mentality, this one focuses on meaningful, sustainable growth. The author, J.D. Roth, also shares helpful stories about debt elimination, saving money, and practical investing.
Per the site’s “About” section, “Debt Roundup is dedicated to figuring out how to get your finances in order and push yourself to get out of debt.” That makes it sound like an austere penny-pinching website, but, in reality, the blog is full of great information about side gigs, investing, and more.
Though often discussing finance for those under 30 (hence the name), this blog offers helpful advice for planners of all ages. The site is divided into easy-to-navigate categories which include: credit cards, debt payoff, investing, home buying, and more.
One of the more practical personal finance blogs out there, with categories that focus on taxes, accounting, retirement planning, social security, and economics. For example, there is an article straightforwardly titled “How Are S-Corporations Taxed?” Very educational.
Contrary to the name of the site, you don’t have to be in your 20s to find useful advice here. It tackles all kinds of financial issues, such as deciding how much you should spend on an engagement ring, maximizing credit card rewards, and navigating health insurance.
This blog actually does cover just about everything related to finance. The articles help readers create a financial strategy that works for you, covering issues as simple as lowering your electric bill and as complex as talking to your significant other about money.
8. Man vs. Debt
Adam and Courtney Baker, who started this blog, focus on a single mantra: “Sell Your Crap…Pay Off Your Debt…Do What You Love!” They focus on minimalism, decluttering, and downsizing to get (and stay) out of debt and to have more money available for things like travel and other opportunities that make life more enjoyable.
What makes this blog so refreshing is that the author, Jonathan Ping, shares the details of his own financial journey — both the successes and the failures. There are also tips on saving money, investing, funding 529 college savings plans, and navigating credit card rewards programs.
In addition to having articles with titles like “How to Save and Invest When You’re a Broke Student,” Money After Graduation has courses and other tools to help you pay off student loans, save for retirement, invest in the stock market, and more.
I picked this one mostly because of the name. Like, just picture it: a guy named Mr. Money Mustache. But the site also provides great commentary on loads of personal finance issues. It also offers case studies and reader success stories, covering everything from home improvement ideas to early retirement strategies.
12. Budgets Are Sexy
Here’s how author J. Money describes himself: “Well, I’m 6’1, rock a ‘hawk, love drinking beer, blaring hip-hop, collecting coins, talking about money, and now playing with my three adorable baby boys.” As you may be able to guess, J. Money spices up otherwise bland topics in personal finance, and provides free tools and templates you can use for your own finances.
13. Wealth Pilgrim
Perhaps the most technical and in-depth blog on this list. Wealth Pilgrim is a great resource for information on personal finance, retirement, investing, and banking. The website is also incredibly well-organized, making it easy to find an article on whatever topic you’re interested in.
This is definitely in my Top 3 Favorite Blog Names. Beyond the title, the blog offers a lot of great practical advice for getting (and staying) out of debt. The author is incredibly honest about his own finances so you can see how it is possible to climb out of debt.
Being a Sooners fan, I don’t like the reference to my least favorite state. That aside, there is some extremely helpful advice on this blog regarding taxes. If you have ever had questions about taxes, this site will answer them; and if you haven’t had questions about taxes, this site will still answer them.
Have a financial plan to go with your estate plan.
Some attorneys focus simply on drafting estate planning documents. However, without looking at the big picture (including your financial plan), those documents may end up being useless. That is why our attorneys take a holistic approach to estate planning: We want to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck.
To discuss how your estate plan can (or should) involve and interact with your financial plan, talk with your financial advisor(s) and then contact the experienced Oklahoma City estate planning attorneys at Postic & Bates for a free, no-obligation consultation.
David M. Postic is an associate attorney at Postic & Bates, P.C. His practice includes estate planning, probate, real estate, adoption, business law, and litigation.
You can email David through our Contact Us page or by calling our office at (405) 691-5080.
[As with all our posts, the contents of this article do not constitute legal advice and are subject to our site-wide disclaimer.]