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, Latertalk.com 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 Latertalk.com 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 Latertalk.com 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.