Six Great Tech Tools for Planning Your Own Death
There’s that word — death.
It’s not something we like to see, talk about, or even acknowledge (did it send a shudder down your spine?). In fact, there are people out there who won’t create a will, discuss funeral arrangements, or even talk about events after their death for fear of tempting “fate.”
Well, unless you really do believe that planning ahead is going to anger the gods of destiny and providence (and if you do, you probably didn't even get past the headline anyway), then it makes complete sense to use today’s technology to help you prepare for the inevitable.
There are several apps and online tools that can help you plan ahead for the time when you will shuffle off this mortal coil. And if you do it right, you can leave your friends and loved ones with security and pleasant memories, rather than heartache and debt. (See also: Would You Consider a DIY Funeral?)
Let’s start with the most fundamental estate-planning document that you should have prepared — your will. Although it’s not a pleasant process, you really do need to have this in place, especially if you have children. The MyWill app makes it easy, with options to help you:
- Leave your property to the people and organizations you choose
- Name someone to care for your minor children
- Name someone to manage property you leave to minor children
- Name the executor of your estate
- Revoke any previous wills and/or codicils
There are many other features, and you can also update your will as many times as you wish. This free app is currently only available for the iPhone, but it’s very handy, and you can’t beat the price.
2. Funeral Advice
Planning your own funeral may seem a touch macabre, but I for one would rather plan mine than have a grieving relative do it. A free app called Funeral Advice lets you do just that, with advice (including video tutorials) that can guide you to the right funeral for your needs. What’s a green burial? What kind of casket should you get? What can you expect to pay? Other features packaged in the app include:
- Steps to take after losing a loved one
- Funeral information
- Words of sympathy
- A casket and cremation urn shop
It may be helpful to go through this with your partner, other family members, or friends, so that they know your wishes as well. The app is available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. You can also check out another funeral-planning app, Funeral Notebook.
3. Death Meter
Nice morbid name, right? Well, although Death Meter is intended more as something to start some casual conversation, it can also give you a wake-up call and a good idea of how long you may have left to live. Taking into account such factors as daily activity, diet, pollution, and even teeth flossing, it gives you a rough idea of when you can expect to pop your clogs. Obviously, it’s not 100% accurate, but it could raise a few red flags for you and your own health.
4. If I Die
Of all the tools available right now for planning your own death, this one is probably the most controversial. Facebook app If I Die hit the headlines because many people believe it’s in very poor taste. Why? Well, the basic idea is that you can record a message that will be played to your friends and loved ones if you should die unexpectedly. The task of sharing this message goes to two or three trusted friends on Facebook. Once activated, the app sends out the message. You can send an inside joke or something way more serious. But if this kind of thing doesn't give you the creeps, the app could be something that helps people accept your passing, especially if it’s very sudden.
A living will is not a substitute for a last will, and they have very different purposes. A last will is there to see that your property is distributed according to your wishes and your last wishes are carried out. It also specifies guardianship for minors. A living will is put in place to outline critical healthcare decisions in advance, so if you are incapacitated, everyone knows what you wanted. Usually, people refer to your living will for such information as whether you want to remain on life support and who you want to make health decisions for you if you are incapable of doing so. The 99 cent iLivingWill iPad app lets you create, store, and distribute a living will for yourself, family, and even friends.
The app will:
- Sensitively answer all the important questions, like having your own family doctor at your side
- Tell your health care providers exactly what kind of care you expect
- Help protect those you love from uncertainty and regret
- Prepare a living will summary document, with the option to save and share it
The app comes with voice-over support, and a portion of the profits goes to organizations that support end-of-life care and green burial.
There are several cloud-based storage systems out there right now, and many are free (or very cheap). AssetLock, however, has put a different spin on it. It’s a website that acts as a virtual safe deposit box, storing your vital records and information and then automatically allowing your chosen family and friends to access that information once you pass away. Possible items you can store in this vault include:
- Digital copies of important documents for reference
- Final messages for family and friends
- Funeral arrangements, a eulogy, an obituary, and notifications
- Instructions to help settle your estate, to-do's, and when to pay bills
- Locations of important documents such as wills, trusts, and insurance policies
- Where your safe deposit box, keys, etc. are located
- Secret information, like passwords, hidden accounts, and lock combinations
The pricing is very reasonable at $9.95 a year or just $235 for life. You can also sign up for a free trial.
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