Our Co-founder Abby Schneiderman went on Bloomberg TV's "Market Makers" to discuss how people can take control of their assets online and prepare for death in the digital age. Click the photo above to watch the video on Bloomberg.com.

Kerri Kasem protesting on October 1, 2013 after being denied contact with her father by her stepmom Jean Kasem. A court granted Kerri temporary power over his health care on June 3, 2014.

Family Drama Over Radio Icon's Ailing Health Gets Ugly

(originally posted on 6/4/14)

The drama surrounding Casey Kasem's family makes a Real Housewives show look like Masterpiece Theater. Famous DJ! Fighting family! Flying meat!

Kasem, 82, best known for his iconic "Top 40" radio show as well being the voice of Shaggy on Scooby Doo, has been reportedly suffering from a form of dementia called "Lewy Body Disease." His daughters and son, Kerri, Julie and Mike, have been in a vicious fight with their stepmom Jean over his care. While it's very easy to be captivated by the drama, here are the important highlights:

--Casey Kasem named his daughter as his Health Care Proxy (also known as a Health Care Power of Attorney) in 2007. This means she has the legal right to make health care decisions for her father if he can't make them for himself.

--A primary physician has to deem Kasem unable to act on his own behalf for the Health Care Proxy to become effective.

--Jean Kasem cut off contact with the daughters last summer (2013), which made providing care for their father impossible. In May, 2014 the daughters put out a missing person report when they claimed he disappeared. Police in Washington State reported he was on vacation outside of Seattle, but a judge still ordered an investigation into why Kasem was removed from Los Angeles without his children's knowledge.

Source: CNN.com

--When Kasem was taken from his house to a hospital in June 2014 his wife threw a pound of hamburger meat at Kerri while her father was being loaded into an ambulance.

--The court recently granted Kerri temporary conservatorship over her father's health care decisions. There's another hearing on June 20th, which could make Kerri the permanent Proxy.

From an emotional perspective, this story is painful for everyone involved. But when you look at it from a planning perspective, there are some positive aspects.

For example: The fact that Kasem named his daughter as his Proxy, and not his wife, allowed his daughters to stay involved in his healthcare decisions. Once his wife violated that document by refusing access, they had recourse and won a court victory.

This story is much more complex that our brief summary and it's tough not to get mired in the muck. But the main thing to think is: If Kasem didn't have any plans in place, it could be even worse. While celebrity families are in the spotlight, many families are torn apart every day when people don't put a plan in place. This includes completing a Will and filling out an Advance Directive, which is the combination of a Living Will and Health Care Proxy. While this might not prevent fights or emotional outbursts--we're all human--it will allow you to reach a legal resolution if it comes to that.

Courts Get Involved; Enforce Kasem's Health Care Directive

(originally posted 6/11/14)

As the family battle rages on between Kasem's daughter and wife regarding his medical care, on June 11th Kerri posted the instructions from her father's Advance Directive on Twitter:

The court’s decision today upheld our father’s explicit wishes as expressed by him in his health directive: “If the extension of my life would result in a mere biological existence, devoid of cognitive function, with no reasonable hope for normal functioning, then I do not desire any form of life sustaining procedures, including nutrition and hydration….” Transitioning our father’s treatment to comfort-oriented care was one of the hardest decisions we’ve ever had to make.

The text in quotes above is taken directly from the Advance Directive form for the state of Washington. Why does this matter? It stems from his wife Jean using the courts to have Kasem's water and feeding tube resumed after it had been pulled. She's asserting that Kerri is trying to hasten her father's death to collect her piece of a $2 million Life Insurance policy. However, since Kasem filled out an Advance Directive alerting his family to his specific medical decisions, the family has a clear picture of what he wants done. The decision to transition from treatment to comfort care, even when you're following instructions, isn't easy and Kerri must rely on doctors to inform her of her father's ability to recover and resume a normal functioning life.

Jean disagrees and her lawyer argued that Kasem's not a vegetable and can communicate, which Kerri's lawyers disputed. With emotions running so high, it's impossible to fully assess the situation from an outsider's perspective. It's easy to offer opinions and pass judgement on either side when it involves celebrities or it's not your family that's suffering, which is why it's important to only focus on the facts. Kasem named his daughter as his Proxy and left clear medical instructions if his health declined.

On June 11th, a judge ruled in favor of Kerri, which allowed her to follow her father's Advance Directive.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial (Source: National Parks Service)

Memorial Day is a time to honor all the men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces who died for our country. These courageous service members from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, who perform dangerous tasks and sometimes pay the ultimate price, don’t ask for any special recognition. But it’s important that we keep them in our thoughts and never forget how they sacrifice themselves to protect us while we go about our daily lives.

Whether an active service member falls in combat or a veteran succumbs years later, a proper military burial is something they’ve earned. It allows their fellow service members a chance to provide a respectful goodbye and their family an important step towards closure. For those who have never experienced a military funeral firsthand, it’s powerful and displays the proud traditions of our Armed Forces.

The U.S. cemetery in Cambridge, England, contains the remains of 3,812 of American casualties from World War II. (Source: American Battle Monuments Commission)

In the spirit of remembrance, and to help those who aren’t familiar with the rituals or symbolism of a military funeral, we outlined a few of the most recognizable aspects below, which are excerpted from The Drill and Ceremonies manual.

Additionally, as a small token of appreciation, we’d like to encourage current and former members of the military to create an Everplan so their loved ones have some extra guidance if tragedy strikes. You can use the following discount code to receive your first year of our premium planning service for free: MEMDAY (Note: Regular annual price is $35. This code expires June 1, 2014.)

Draping The Casket With The National Flag

When the U.S. flag covers the casket, it is placed so the union blue field is at the head and over the left shoulder. The flag, which is provided for service members and honorably discharged veterans, is not placed in the grave and is not even allowed to touch the ground. For those who die on active duty, the flag is provided by the branch of service in which that person served. Flags for veterans are provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs and it is presented to the next of kin at the end of the funeral. If there is no next of kin present, the flag may be presented to another family representative or a close friend.

Funeral Guru Tip: Want to get Military benefits for your loved one? Make sure you have the paperwork! Without the necessary documents, namely the discharge papers (DD 214/Separation Documents), the funeral home will not be able to provide any of the benefits the deceased deserves. This even includes receiving an American flag. For more information, here's an article from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that Funeral Director's reference to determine eligibility for burial in a national cemetery.

Honor Guard

The honor guard, which can consist of up to six Armed Forces members, carries or escorts the casket to the grave site. There are several different levels of funerals, including a standard funeral and a full honors funeral. According to a retired Army serviceman, a local unit for a standard military funeral may consist of 2-3 service members. However, when he participated in a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff's funeral there were over 120 services members, which included a band, salute battery, firing party, casket team, caisson platoon, and escort element.

Other tasks by the honor guard include holding the American flag taut over the casket and ceremonially folding the flag before handing it to the highest ranking officer. Below is a video of The 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (a.k.a. “The Old Guard”) displaying their impressive and precise technique on how to properly fold the American Flag.

Firing Three Rifle Volleys Over The Grave

Normandy American Cemetery contains the graves of 9,387 U.S. service members, most of whom died on D-Day, June 6, 1944. (Source: American Battle Monuments Commission)

The firing of three volleys over the grave of a fallen warrior has its origin in the old custom of halting the fighting to remove the dead from the battlefield. Once the dead were removed, three-musket volleys were fired as a signal that the battle could resume.

Another military tradition is to put a spent shell casing from the volleys into the folded flag.


"Taps" was composed by the Union Army's Brig. Gen. Daniel Butterfield in 1862. It was called "Taps" because it was often tapped out on a drum in the absence of a bugler and was considered an appropriate substitute when firing three volleys for fallen soldiers was considered unsafe due to the proximity of the enemy. The call was officially adopted by the U.S. Army in 1874.

If you’re interested in the origin of “Taps,” The History Channel created this short but detailed segment:

It's not often you see an ad with a corpse wearing a toe tag leaning up against a wall, but then again, New York City isn't really a normal place.

To get someone's attention in The Big Apple, either on the street or while riding the subway, you have to be clever or shocking and the New York Organ Donor Network's new "Hate The Wait" campaign definitely qualifies on both counts. If this gets the word out on Organ Donation and convinces people to register, then we're completely on board with this approach. Plus, waiting on line is already bad. Waiting on line with a corpse standing next to you? So much worse.

Via New York Organ Donor Network

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everything your loved ones will need if something happens to you.

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Source: Volusia County Sheriff's Office

Someone in Florida right now is probably wondering, "Where did I put that coffin filled with weapons?" If you happen to be that person, the police would like to let you know that it's safe and in their custody. Feel free to pick it up if you don't mind answering a whole lot of questions.

A Florida Fish and Wildlife officer found the closed wooden casket in De Leon Springs and contacted the Volusia County Sheriff's department. Once the coffin was opened they found 46 items that ranged from weapons to household appliances...that could easily be used as weapons. The full list is here but we've selected some of the bizarre highlights:

  • Ball with metal spikes
  • Small red square punching bag
  • Black leather pouch
  • Double-sided axe with handle
  • Baseball bat with numerous screws attached
  • Broken yellow dart
  • Wooden handle with attached rusted knife blade
  • Black stick with attached chain
  • Silver metal sword blade with missing hand grip
  • Large pair of black metal tongs

The police haven't identified who it belongs to but our imagination has been running wild with speculation. So we present...

7 (Unlikely) Explanations Behind The Florida Weapon Coffin

  1. A person who did a lot of planning for the zombie apocalypse but is now woefully unprepared and must start rebuilding his stash all over again.
  2. Ted Nugent is furiously looking around his house wondering where he put his coffin-shaped toy chest.
  3. A set designer for The Walking Dead is in big trouble for losing an important prop.
  4. A person preparing to become a well-armed zombie in the event of a zombie apocalypse...not realizing that zombies cannot use weapons.
  5. "So that's where I put my baseball bat with numerous screws attached," said a Teenage Mutant Ninja Alligator.
  6. Dracula is well equipped to handle Van Helsing this time around.
  7. How people prepared for the future before Everplans existed.

Via Orlando News 13

Everplans provides guides, resources and a platform to help you create a plan that contains
everything your loved ones will need if something happens to you.

Create your FREE Everplan

Like the old saying goes, you can’t choose your family. But if you’re an animal your family can sure as heck choose you, which is probably why many of the world’s mega-rich have chosen to bequeath more of their inheritance to their loyal pets than to their often spoiled kids.

Once a novelty, it’s now become expected for the unimaginably wealthy to leave millions to their surviving pets to ensure there’s no disruption in their spa treatments and fancy feasts.

If you thought the amounts of money lavished on human heirs of the rich and famous were obscene, wait till you see the millions rained on these one percenters of the animal kingdom. [For those people without Scrooge McDuck money, here’s how you can make sure your pets are taken care of after you’re gone.]

10. Pet: Bubbles (chimpanzee)

Owner: Michael Jackson
Bequest: $2 million
Long before it became a reality, Jackson left his chimp Bubbles $2 million payable upon his death. However, fears that the chimp’s increasing aggression might be a danger to Jackson’s newborn son forced the preemptive relocation of Bubbles to an animal sanctuary, where he lives to this day. Which is probably a healthier environment than life in the Jackson family anyway.

9. Pets: Unspecified number of dogs

Owner: Majel Barrett-Roddenberry
Bequest: $4 million
After dying in 2009 at the age of 76, the widow of Star Trek creator Gene set up a $4 million trust for their dogs, plus an additional $1 million for a domestic employee to care for them.

8. Pet: Gigoo (hen)

Owner: Miles Blackwell
Bequest: $10 million
Blackwell and his wife had a track record of caring for animals, having established the Tubney Charitable Trust in 1997 to protect farm critters. After she died in 2001, the childless publishing magnate left Gigoo 10 extra-large then died unexpectedly three weeks later at age 56.

With so much craftsmanship on display with your average coffin or casket, it’s almost a shame to bury them in the earth for of all eternity. So while it may be a tad morbid, there are some ways to celebrate the aesthetic beauty of a coffin and take advantage of their practical side without the attendant mood killers like death. Enjoy these creative takes on the typical coffin…

Rest In Peace

Of course, the most obvious place to start is the coffin as bed. If you want to do it in style, however, you should book a trip to Germany. The Propeller Island City Lodge in Berlin offers a theme room where guests can get cozy in casket. It is unsettling? Sure, but what else would you expect from a country that actually coined a term for the pleasure you get in seeing other people struggle? Just go with the Teutonic flow… [Source: Propeller Island]

Bed, Bath And The Great Beyond

Medieval scholars often kept skulls on their desks to serve as “Memento Mori,” or reminders of our mortality. But why stop there? A company called “Coffin It Up” can literally refurnish your entire home in coffin-shaped cabinets, end tables, mirror, sinks and anything else. Nothing says “I never outgrew my Goth phase” better than a death-obsessed linen closet, so if you’re willing to stare the Grim Reaper in the face every single day, they have everything you need. [Source: Coffin It Up]

An article about Everplans is currently feature in the May, 2014 issue of the AARP Bulletin. Titled "Online Help to Plan Your Exit Strategy," the monthly magazine does a great job informing their millions of members about our new way of getting a plan in place. Here's the full, glorious page:

Automatic payments make life so much easier. As long as you keep money in your bank account and pay the credit card associated with the utilities and services, everything is paid on time and late fees are a thing of the past. On the negative side, it can also mask your death.

Here's a sad story that happened a few months ago. A woman named Pia Farrenkopf from Pontiac, Michigan had been dead for five years...and no one noticed. Her neighbors thought she was traveling and mowed the lawn to keep things looking tidy. The Post Office collected all her mail so nothing piled up. Even when her bank account, which was being used to auto-pay her bills, ran out of money she still went undiscovered. The bank foreclosed on the house and still nothing. Then a contractor, who was sent to repair the roof, found her mummified body in the backseat of her car.

We're not here to rehash the entire story, which does have a few odd twists and turns. If you're interested it was widely reported by CNN, The New Yorker and USA Today. There's even a Facebook memorial page called "Mummified in Michigan," which was set up by her 19-year-old niece to honor her life and try and get answers.

There were a lot of extenuating circumstances as to why Farrenkopf went undiscovered. She lived alone, she recently left a job, she had lots of money in her bank account, Michigan has had so much economic turmoil that abandoned houses are quite common, etc... But it begs the question: If you died alone, how long would it take someone to find you?

If you're married or live with someone, probably not very long. But what if you live alone? What if you don't work a regular job? What if you go long stretches without talking to your family or close friends on a regular basis? And what if all the payments in your life are automated? It's as if you can live on forever...until a credit card expires or the money runs out.

This is why it's important to check on older or sick neighbors if you haven't seen them in a few weeks or during extreme weather. Same goes for people who have gone through a major life event (death, divorce, recent or long-term unemployment). Because while many people might have someone to be there for them, there are too many out there who don't.

Everplans provides guides, resources and a platform to help you create a plan that contains
everything your loved ones will need if something happens to you.

Create your FREE Everplan

There’s no such thing as a simple goodbye for superheroes…

Recently, Marvel announced they’re killing off one of their most popular characters…X-Men’s age-defying, claw-bearing Wolverine! While this may come as a shock to some, to many who follow comics and comic-based movies it’s just another iconic superhero flirting with the great beyond.

The world of super-powered crime-fighters is fraught with peril, and sometimes even the most powerful succumb to the dangers and fall in a valiant effort to save the world, right a wrong...or, not to be too cynical, boost sales and garner media attention.

Just like soap operas, nothing in the world of costumed crusaders is ever simple, so it’s no surprise that even superhero funerals often serve as more than just opportunities for friends and family to say their goodbyes. Here are some ways in which memorials are manipulated…

The Funeral As A Classic “This Isn’t Goodbye, It’s See You Later”

There used to be a joke among comic book fans that “nobody stays dead except Bucky” (a reference to Captain America’s old Robin-esque sidekick who actually remained dead for many, many years before, yes, eventually being resurrected, too). So funerals are often time-delayed plot bombs – the ticker is set, and we count down to that character’s inevitably explosive, emotional return. (Photo Source: Marvel)

The X-Men universe has their “Death of Jean Grey” storyline, where original X-Team member Jean Grey (known as “Marvel Girl” and then later the aptly-named “Phoenix”) sacrificed herself in order to stop her increasingly out-of-control and genocidal powers. It’s one of the most powerful deaths in comics, with a whole issue dedicated to her funeral. Of course, Jean would return to rock the X-universe many times over since. Will the same fate await Wolverine in the upcoming “Death of Wolverine” series. Probably. (Photo Source: Marvel)