Digital death is still a problem. A widow’s battle to access her husband’s Apple account

The Missing Piece to the Financial Puzzle

Most financial professionals specialize in financial, retirement, insurance, and estate planning. In doing so, they usually utilize a holistic planning process designed to review and optimize all areas of a client’s financial needs. However, studies reveal that most “successful” financial professionals choose to specialize in a particular niche. In other words, they focus the majority of time, energy, and resources at a target market — with the goal of establishing themselves as the “go-to” expert for a particular product or service.

Some of the most common niches in our industry are:

  • Wealth and investment management
  • Life, disability, and/or long-term care insurance
  • Retirement planning
  • Estate and legacy planning

Your End of Life Planning Niche is Here

Question: “Have you adequately prepared yourself and your family for your eventual death?” This may be an unpleasant question, but nonetheless it is one you should be able to answer. The reason why is because one day we will all die. Death is something we cannot predict, postpone, or avoid. I once heard someone say; “God promises us eternity, but He never promises us tomorrow”. Every financial services professional knows for certain their clients are guaranteed to face this extremely difficult situation, either directly or indirectly, at some point in their future. We also know this guaranteed event is accompanied by extremely difficult emotional and financial decisions.

However, almost nobody we know can answer this question: “If a death had occurred in your family last night… what would you be doing right now?” Every financial professional has a unique opportunity right now to serve an exponentially growing niche of individuals and families. Every day there are families who are seeking the professional services and guidance you can potentially offer. And by doing so, you can serve a niche that has little to no competition. This unique opportunity will add value to clients and practice, and allow you become the credible “go-to” professional that so many families are searching for. The bad news is our industry has yet to offer the comprehensive training and education needed to become more comfortable, confident, and better equipped to professionally serve “the death conversation”. The good news is I am fully confident this will change in the coming years. Soon financial professionals will open up a world of opportunity as they gain access to the necessary training, tools and resources to help them step out of their comfort zone — and step into a new niche to serve more clients.

“The Death Conversation” is a Good Thing

A recent survey from The Washington Post revealed that more than 90% of people believe it is a good idea to have “the death conversation”, and also believe it is a good idea to document their final plans and preferences in advance. However, less than 10% have actually had “the death conversation”, much less proactively started making any formalized End of Life Plan.

Talking About Death is Taking Flight

Mark my words. In the coming years “the death conversation” will be a standard and routine part of our job and our industry. In fact, just over the past several years I have watched death talk grow into a much more common and acceptable topic. Below are a few examples to support this explosive trend:

  • The Social Security Administration is increasingly educating Americans and seniors about pre-planning and pre-funding funeral arrangements. • Most long-term care facilities require advanced funeral and cemetery arrangements before allowing admission.
  • Death Cafés and Death Dinner Parties are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. and other countries.

So when you factor in the aging population of Baby Boomers, the advent of the Internet and the explosion in technology, the trend of talking about death is in the early stages of exponential growth curve.

Are You a “Death Planner”?

Most Funeral Directors will readily accept and acknowledge the fact that they are “death planners”. On the contrary, most financial professionals would cringe at the thought of being referred to as a “death planner”. But like it or not, many financial professionals are “death planners”.

Some of the most common “death planning” products and strategies in the financial services industry are life insurance, long-term care, and estate planning. Life insurance is a product primarily designed to replace income in the event of an unexpected death. Long-term care insurance is a product primarily designed to help fund a person’s medical and nonmedical needs for an extended period of time prior to death. Estate planning is a strategy primarily designed to provide the proper and timely distribution of personal and/or family wealth upon death.

When a financial services professional sells a term, whole life, or long-term care insurance policy — or an Estate Attorney creates a Traditional Will or Living Trust — the harsh reality is they are “death planners”. In other words, the value offered from their professional products and services is accomplished by putting a plan in place for death. The primary objective of these “death plans” is to minimize the significant emotional and financial damages and losses associated with death. So like it or not, many financial professionals are actually “death planners”.

 It’s Only Too Soon…Until It’s Too Late

As you know by now I firmly believe the financial services industry needs to help us become trained, educated, and well-versed to assist our clients regarding the following four facts:

  1. Death is a guaranteed event which we cannot predict, avoid, or postpone.
  2. When a death occurs, there are approximately 150 difficult decisions that need to be made within a 24-48 hour period.
  3. Dying is expensive, and these costs will only grow over time. The average cost of a traditional funeral today is $15,000- $20,000.
  4. When faced with planning a funeral, most families are largely unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and unprepared.

Clearly this is not a good scenario for someone to make important emotional and financial decisions. I cannot stress enough how important it is for every financial professional to begin to accept death, embrace “the death conversation”, and start adding this unique and growing niche — all of which are guaranteed to help your clients and their families make a difficult situation easier. It is time for change in our industry, and my prayer is that I help make a small contribution towards something that is so large and important.

I leave you with this important parting thought. The most common statement I hear when it comes to End of Life Planning is; “I don’t need to do this now. It’s too soon.” Well, I can assure you from my own personal experience and years of extensive work in the death care industry, it’s only too soon — until it’s too late.

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Learn How to Preserve Your Data with Take Control of Your Digital Legacy

Wanna write a guest post ?

At DigitalDeathGuide, we’re trying to curate all of information related to death management and assets planning in the electronic sphere.

We’re selecting articles from all over the web, but we’re also looking to promote and support activities related to this field as well. Publishing guest posts is one one these supports: with guests posts we can :

  • Present yourself, with a photo and a short pic,
  • Showcase your ideas,
  • Develop your activities online by explaining your expertise, and giving your contact information.

A successfull post is one like this. Ping me on Eleanore @ if you’d like to show your work !

Identity Theft Safeguard

The death of a loved one is never easy

The death of a loved one is never easy. When my wife’s mother passed away a few years ago it was especially difficult for our family because my mother-in-law and wife were extremely close. They would talk on the phone every day or see each other and share stories, bits of news regarding the kids or other conversations that only a mother and daughter can share.

Her passing left a tremendous void in our family, and although I am blessed in that both of my parents are still alive, as an estate attorney I can guarantee two things: 1) families and friends feel a tremendous loss when a mother, father, sibling, child or friend passes away, and 2) as much as we try to avoid the issue, we will all pass in the future leaving behind someone who cares deeply for us.

Every time I meet with a family to work on an estate I express my sympathies for their loss and try to accommodate them during this most difficult process. Inevitably, the surviving children or relatives read the Last Will and Testament and then ask me questions. How does this work? What does this mean? Since I am trained to follow through on the intentions of the testator (the decedent who left a Will), the family members find very little comfort in the last “words” of their loved one being included in a document with other legal jargon such as “residuary estate” or “beneficiaries”.  I quickly realized a Last Will and Testament (or a Trust) are not the words of the deceased loved one – rather, they are the words of an attorney who is bound by an unwritten rule: “use traditional legal wording and be as detailed as possible because that is what attorneys do.”

It occurred to me that surviving family members (such as my wife and the countless clients who sit at my table), who spend so much time communicating with mothers/fathers/siblings and friends during life, have no options to re-live or participate in a spontaneous conversation with those who have passed during the days, weeks, months or years after a loss.  From that point I imagined many would invite the opportunity to communicate (in a realistic fashion) with a parent, sibling, child, relative or friend who is gone. Although I have lost grandparents, I would certainly like my mother and father to create messaging for me that I can interact with in the future….whether to wish me a “Happy Birthday” or to remind me of “that time we took the train to California.”  In fact, what if my parents could create messaging with photos, video, or even audio messages that can be delivered and listened to as a spontaneous message on arbitrary dates (“Hi son, just wanted you to know I love you very much and am very proud of you”).

I asked my wife, if she could receive a text or email message from her Mom wishing a Happy Birthday or if she could message her Mom to say how much she missed her, would she want to engage in that type of messaging? My wife answered “that would be amazing.”

With this in mind, I set out on a path toward building a website application that allows all of us who are living to prepare an account that can be activated and interacted with by those who we designate as survivors. This concept is something I refer to as “survivor messaging” or “legacy media”.  Although “legacy media” presently refers to the old style of media (newspapers, magazines and print), I believe it is more accurately defined as our ability to leave a “legacy” (a gift) to our heirs/survivors in the form of interactive, digital media (as opposed to “social media” which involves the immediate communication between two individuals).

After approximately 20 months of planning, drafts, drawings, narratives, patent applications, and meetings with our software company, was born and we are extremely happy to offer Free and Premium subscriptions to those who may want to begin creating an interactive account for the benefit of survivors.

Perhaps the biggest question we have as humans is whether our deceased parents, family and friends understand how they will be missed, how much they are loved and if they are proud of our accomplishments. Through Latertalk, we have the ability to communicate those thoughts to our loved ones through text/email, photo, video and audio formats on various dates throughout the years after our passing. None of us want to leave our loved ones without a legacy…Latertalk allows us to plan for the future by creating an interactive legacy for the benefit of ourselves and our survivors.  Further, Latertalk can afford subscribers the ability to convey other information such as financial information, accounts, passwords/usernames and other private information that they wish to communicate only in the event of the subscriber’s death (see “Digital Death Guide” and recommendations for content therein).

Many who visit may think “I don’t need to create an account now” or “there is no reason to spend a few dollars each month to maintain an interactive digital legacy”. To those individuals I would suggest that none of us know when, how or where we may pass. Preparation for the financial and emotional well-being of our survivors should not be limited to our “later years in life”; rather, we should continue to maintain an ongoing library of messages that reference specific dates, memories and important milestones that can provide our survivors with comfort, advice and a unique, personal and authentic dialogue which can be realized as a Latertalk subscriber.

We would invite you to visit to open a free account and begin your survivor messaging account. As you will see, once your designated survivors confirm their relationship to you, they can suggest the types of messages they would appreciate as your survivor. By creating and storing those messages (either FREE messaging in text format or a Premium account for a small monthly charge) you can leave your family and friends a legacy which cannot be replicated or purchased with any amount of money because your words, photos, video and voice/audio are priceless.

Publish your Guest post on DigitalDeathGuide

At DigitalDeathGuide, we’re trying to curate all of information related to death management and assets planning in the electronic sphere.

We’re selecting articles from all over the web, but we’re also looking to promote and support activities related to this field as well. Publishing guest posts is one one these supports: with guests posts we can :

  • Present yourself, with a photo and a short pic,
  • Showcase your ideas,
  • Develop your activities online by explaining your expertise, and giving your contact information.

A successfull post is one like this. Ping me on Eleanore @ if you’d like to show your work !