After an intense play of the old board game LIFE (and yes, I still have it) with family and friends, I started to think about what really would happen after I kick the bucket.
The old conception or notion of estate planning was meant for those who were wealthy or in some sort retired from the old game of life. I can remember my mother pulling out a shoe box and stating to me, “when I pass make sure to check the Nike box for the will”. Oh how things have changed...
In this new age of the digital realm, your economic level is no longer an issue for everyone can benefit having an estate plan. Whether it’s distributing properties, burial arrangements, insurance claims, taxes and even ensuring your social network accounts should be included within your estate planning. The state knows this all too well. As a matter of fact the US government recently began advising the citizens to derive a ‘social media will’ as well. 65% of adults still lack a will!
Upon death of a loved one, “Fully 1 in 4 insurance policies ($350 million) remains unclaimed because family members don’t know they exist” says Jessica Bloomgarden, Founder and CEO of AfterSteps, which is an online end-of-life planning service.
So what is Aftersteps? AfterSteps is a comprehensive and cost-effective online end of life planning service, which offers templates and expert advice that allows clients to define their last wishes and communicate them to family and/or beneficiaries. It is complete with financial planning, estate planning, funeral planning and most importantly, legacy planning.
From the moment you log on, you’re guided, step-by-step, into getting organized. You are provided with easy to follow templates in plain English which definitely makes the process a breeze. Click on the Information Center Link at the bottom of every page to access an extensive Frequently-Asked-Questions (of FAQ) section which provides answers to questions such as the difference between a Trust and a Will? Wondering what happens to your Email and Facebook accounts after your departure? Newly divorced and need to make changes? A simple click connects you to one of several experts in a variety of fields.
What motivated you to start this new venture? She intimated to me that the idea germinated following the death of her grandmother and observing the struggles her parents endured in attempting to get affairs in order. “One of our goals is to help families get organized. Our hope has always been to help families solve common problems”.
What were the biggest obstacles you faced in launching this venture? “Initially, personal preparation was challenging. Starting a new business can be a daunting and very lonely experience. I’ve been fortunate in that I have enjoyed the support of family and friends. Also, being a woman in a male dominated economic climate was another. Fortunately we have partnered with some great people that have allowed us to overcome and adapt”.
AfterSteps is a subscription-based service. Is there an advantage to that? “Absolutely. Not only does it allow you to get your affairs in order, but KEEP them in order on an ongoing basis. We’re all aware of the many changes that occur during our lifetimes. Things like marriages, divorces, additional children and changing tax plans, just to name a few. AfterSteps enables you to keep your affairs up to date as things change and insures timely notification of your beneficiaries or account verifiers, as we call them. All beneficiaries receive their own log-on account where they enter their important contact information and are made aware of our client’s current arrangements. All beneficiaries are contacted regularly and updated of any changes that have occurred to our clients account. Oftentimes we find that beneficiaries immediately appreciate the value of what we offer and upgrade to become clients themselves” says Jessica.
With pricing starting out as low as $3.00 a month, all economic levels are apt to reach that affordable budget.
Who have your clients been thus far? “Our clients break-down into three basic groups”
- 45-55yr. olds who wish to plan ahead.
- 30-40yr.old new parents with guardianship and life insurance and will issues.
- Children helping their parents get organized.
Are these arrangements often contested? “While we are able to put you in contact with expert advice regarding Wills, etc. our primary function is that of a repository of our clients wishes that they wish to convey to their beneficiaries. We really don’t get involved in any legal aspect.”
What separates you from your competitors? “Our research going in indicated that the competitors out there focus on one or two areas, like the digital aspects, or wills. We offer a comprehensive service that offers an all-in-one solution. We not only offer pre-planning arrangements, but comprehensive funeral arrangements through Invitefuneral.com.”
Finally, Jess, how is business? “Our current retention rate among current subscribers is near perfect, and I’m pleased to announce that in the month of January our business has increased by 50 percent. Our plans are to increase our employee base as our business continues to grow.”
There you have it! So while you’re on facebook posting your status, it’s definitely time to start thinking about your loved ones and understanding who has your digital back.
May I rest in digital peace, Amen.