We stealthily Photoshopped Abby in since she took the picture. Can you tell?

Our mission here at Everplans is to help people—from Millennials to Baby Boomers to the aging—better understand that they don’t have to spend a lot of money, time, or effort to get basic plans in place to protect their families and we're so happy to annouce some new hires to achieve our goals.

Editorial Director Gene Newman (former Editor-in-Chief of Maxim.com) and Chief Technology Officer Warren Habib (formerly of MTV Networks, Fotolog, and AddThis) have joined our team and will help us live up to our mantra: Everyone needs an exit strategy for life. They approach this world from an entirely new perspective and we can't wait to reveal our new offerings in the near future.

We're also excited to annouce we've added valuable expertise from the death care and financial services industries. Elizabeth Meyer, who spent the past four years serving as a Family Services Liaison at New York’s Frank E. Campbell funeral home and Riverside Memorial Chapel, is our resident funeral planning expert. Former SVP at Merrill Lynch Michael Herman is our Director of Business Development and will be creating channel partnerships.

Welcome to the team everyone!

Read the full announcement in our press release section.

Everplans Co-founder Abby Schneiderman running our booth

San Jose is lovely this time of year and Everplans is thrilled to be exhibiting at The 2013 AgeTech West Conference and Expo (“Aging Services Meets Silicon Valley: Creating the Future of Care”). We're also excited to be participating in Aging 2.0's Pitch-For-Pilots competition, which is where start-ups pitch their technology solution with the goal of attracting pilot partners. Big thanks to everyone for allowing us to be part of this incredible event.

Mark lost his wife of 28 years to cancer two years ago and documented his experience on his site. It's quite comprehensive and offers an honest and thoughtful look at his loss from all angles. His most recent post, Caregiving, Loss, Grief, and Recovery: A Journey, is perhaps his most personal.

This is no self-help DIY answer to horrific loss and sadness. There are reams of literature on the topic of grief and loss most of which will guide you better. This is simply a look back though a different set of eyes to identify the elements and process of loss, grief, and recovery.

Here at Everplans we're working towards finding a better way of addressing the needs of caregivers. If you've suffered through a loss and want a new perspective, this is a great place to start.

Via The BioContinuum Group

What’s the difference between saying you love the troops and actually loving them? How about making sure their families receive money owed to them when they die.

Ever hear of a “death gratuity?” It’s a $100,000 payout wired to a fallen soldier’s family within three days of his or her death. It helps the grieving family pay for the funeral and cover normal expenses. This isn’t free money. It comes at a cost: A soldier’s life. But since the government can’t stop bickering about who-knows-what, four families aren’t getting the money.

It doesn’t stop there. According to USA Today:

The Department of Veterans Affairs exhausted some carryover funding and furloughed 7,000 workers who process compensation claims. As a result, the VA cut off public access Tuesday to all 56 regional offices where veterans routinely walk in to file claims for compensation of combat- or other service-related wounds, injuries or illnesses.

If all this is making you angry, and putting the government shutdown in perspective, then you’re human.

Via USA Today and The Washington Times

UPDATE 10/9/13: The Pentagon entered into an agreement with The Fisher House Foundation to ensure families of fallen troops are paid survivor benefits that were suspended because of the government shutdown. See, when there's enough outrage over something things can actually get done.

We do our best to prepare for natural disasters, but we rarely prepare for the natural disaster awaiting us all: Death. So writes Dr. Ira Byock in his compelling and informative story “Caring Well for One Another Through the End of Life,” which appears in USA Today’s “End of Life Care” supplement.

“Relatively few Americans are sufficiently informed or have taken basic steps to keep themselves and their families safe from harm when dying,” writes Dr. Byock, who is a practicing palliative care physician and author of The Best Care Possible. “Despite decades of efforts and significant improvements in end-of-life care, studies reveal that many Americans still suffer as they die or spend their last days in places or situations they would never have wanted.”

Dr. Ira Byock
Photo Source: Compassionate Care Alliance

He advises people to seek out specialized teams to support you when things get difficult, equating palliative care and hospice programs to the Red Cross and FEMA. “With skillful care and reasonable comfort, a person’s dying can hold opportunities to complete a life, rather than merely have it end.”

Dr. Byock also goes on to stress how important it is to have a conversation with people you trust, telling them what sort of treatment you either want or don’t want. This is where he mentions Everplans and The Conversation Project as websites that “provide valuable resources and forms at no cost.”

The “End of Life Care” supplement, which is currently on newsstands, provides other very interesting and informative stories about hospice care myths, how Hall of Fame quarterback Boomer Esiason became a life insurance advocate after losing his mother at an early age, and a look at the legacy of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ iconic work “On Death and Dying." Oh, and the new season of Homeland starts this weekend so don't forget to set those DVRs!

Our friend Kathy Kastner of BestEndings.com has put together a very down-to-earth and helpful video series dealing with the great beyond. Here’s one of the clips:

What started as an experiment, and a way to test a new video camera, blossomed into an open and honest [5-part video series] featuring a diverse group of friends comfortably confronting their thoughts, worries and concerns when it comes to talking about death.

Just like [Death Over Dinner], Death Cafe and The Conversation Project, Kathy is yet another positive force in the ongoing movement to chat up death in a casual setting. Keep up the good work!

Via Best Endings

At my birthday dinner last night, I was reminded by my (older) friend that at 29, I should realize how I’m “getting up there.” Although I know he was just trying to get a rise out of me, I couldn’t help but become fixated on aging. Time does fly.

I still get carded, wear boy's Converses, am petrified of spiders, and the concept of diapers grosses me out; I don’t consider myself old. At the same time, I realize my arbitrary immature aspects do not save me from the inevitable aging process. Yes, I’m an adult.

Now, here’s where my ramblings affect you, dear reader. I cannot help but think: No matter how old we are, we’ll never admit that we fall into the “old” category. Although age is “just a number,” maybe it is a number we should address and accept.

Not included on chart: When you need to look at charts to see if you're old.
Source: Pew Research Center

Although as the Funeral Guru, I am constantly thinking about death, my thoughts are even more focused today. I suggest that maybe we should use our BIRTHdays as a reminder of our limited time, but not in a morbid way. Perhaps, we should take a bit of time out of our fun-filled day to celebrate our lives and make wills or get life insurance.

Or, maybe we should do what we always say we will do… put it off until tomorrow…

Death + Dinner = Delicious. Bloomberg Media recently highlighted the “death dinners,” which recently collaborated with Everplans, in an effort to get people to discuss end-of-life plans while they’re healthy...and hungry.

Let’s Have Dinner and Talk About Death” has facilitated hundreds of these not-so morbid meals. The site offers a simple multiple choice questionnaire helping people choose attendees (parents, friends, co-workers...), clarify their talking points (“I have recently lost someone very close to me…”), a list of article/video/podcast resources, and a helpful activation email that allows you to get the party started.

Everplans teamed with DeathOverDinner.org and created a helpful workbook so death dinner survivors could turn their talk into action after the evening was over.

The Bloomberg article also includes a video and nifty infographic labeling America a “Death-Denying Society," part of which focuses on cremation and funeral costs:

The graphic goes on to explain how “end-of-life care decisions, medical intervention and burial wishes are topics that most baby boomers would rather ignore. However, with a 32 percent increase in the number of people dying in the U.S. by 2030, it will force countless decisions on how we die.” Not such a yummy statistic, but this is something DeathOverDinner.org and Everplans are working to correct, one placesetting at a time.

An article on Alleywatch.com, a site that offers important and topical news surrounding New York startups, mentioned us in an insightful article entitled Does Your Target Market Need to be the 50+ Crowd?

Here’s what they had to say about our founders’ presentation at the Aging 2.0 event held in New York City on September 12th:

While using the Internet to share all the “happy transitions” in her life, like her wedding and pregnancy, Abby Schneiderman wondered what people did during the “unhappy transition,” like illness and death. Together with her partner, Adam Seifer, she launched Everplans to ensure that everyone can have a plan in place. Starting out as a content-only site, the duo decided to expand into creating a handful of essential items people need to get started once they enter information – like resources on how to write a will if a user states he/she hasn’t already written one. The site also allows users to set who can have access to their information. Everplans has started working with a few hospitals and healthcare facilities to guide their patients through some of the sticky decisions they might have to face later.

Thanks again for the mention and for recapping all the other great presenters that night. We genuinely appreciate it.

[Click here to read the full article]

Author Katy Butler’s new book, “Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death,” which chronicles her mother’s decision to opt against end-of-life medical treatment, is available today. A preview of Butler’s book appeared as the Saturday essay in the Wall Street Journal and serves as the perfect primer. (She also wrote about her father's struggles at the end of his life to die the way he wanted in the New York Times in 2010.)

While Butler offers a touching personal perspective, she also confronts the concept of “dying well” on a grander scale, estimating that “medical overtreatment costs the U.S. health care system an estimated $158 billion to $226 billion a year.” She also asks tough questions about what people say they want at the end of their life and what they actually want. “Why don't we die the way we say we want to die?” she asks. “In part because we say we want good deaths but act as if we won't die at all.”

We could recount the whole article, because it’s that compelling, but you should click over and read it for yourself.