By Liz Weston
This is reprinted by permission from .
Before the pandemic, entrepreneurs Liz Eddy and Alyssa Ruderman had trouble getting venture capitalists to invest in their end-of-life planning app Lantern. Potential business partners were skeptical as well.
“We would hear, ‘Oh, this is really a niche issue,’ which I think is pretty hilarious,” Eddy says. “Death is quite literally the only thing on the planet that affects every single person.”
The past two years have highlighted the importance of such preparation, even for younger people. Abigail Henson, a 31-year-old college professor in Phoenix, says she started using Lantern about 18 months ago to plan her funeral, tell her executor where to find her passwords and explain what she wanted to be done with her social media accounts.
“I’m a planner, and I have control issues, so the idea of being able to have a say in what happens following my passing was appealing,” Henson says.
Planning for death and navigating life after a loss can be difficult, complex and sometimes expensive. However, several apps — including Lantern, Cake, Empathy and Everplans, among others — promise to help.
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How death-planning apps work
Death-planning apps typically have free tools for consumers, and most have additional, premium services available for a fee.
For example, Empathy’s free offerings include checklists, articles and collaboration tools for family members dealing with a death. Those who pay a subscription fee of $8.99 a month or $64.99 a year can access a document vault and automated tools to close accounts. Subscribers also get around-the-clock access to “care specialists” who can answer questions and help users search for specialized advisers, such as attorneys or tax pros.
Everplans, a document-storage site and app, offers a free trial followed by an annual $75 subscription fee.
Lantern’s free offerings include basic preplanning tools, an after-loss checklist, document storage and collaboration tools. A one-time $149 fee provides access to more resources and the ability to create additional plans.
Cake’s free features include end-of-life planning, online memorials, a post-loss checklist and document storage. A $96 annual subscription buys unlimited storage, a legal online will and one-on-one consultations with the app’s support team, says Suelin Chen, Cake’s co-founder.
Some apps partner with employers, insurers, banks and other companies that provide the app’s features to employees or customers as a benefit. The apps also may earn referral fees for connecting users with service providers. Lantern has a “Funeralocity” tool to search for funeral homes, for instance, and Cake partners with Eterneva, which turns cremated remains into diamonds.
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Plan at your own pace
Henson says she chose Lantern because she wanted a digital solution that allowed her to complete preplanning tasks at her own pace and share them online with trusted people. That felt more manageable than tackling estate planning all at once and storing the documents in a locked filing cabinet, which is what her mother has done, Henson says.