Contemplating the end of life freaks me out and as such, I’ve never put together a will. But then I’m young, healthy and I don’t own much so I can’t say I’ve felt the need to. Most Americans don’t actually. Over half of adults with kids don’t plan their estate, according to a 2012 Rocket Lawyer survey.
But who lets Facebook or your other social media profiles and online services know you’re dead? Only one state, Delaware, has a law that allows family members access to online profiles after someone dies. The problem with that is companies like Yahoo, Facebook and Twitter all have different policies for handling online information after someone’s passing. Add on the high expense of hiring a lawyer to deal with this and it may not seem worth it to most people.
Woody Levin watched his family, a family full of lawyers, scramble to find his grandmother’s assets and info right after she had passed. He started thinking about his own life and the kinds of digital assets Millennials will leave behind. That gave him the idea to create a digital safe deposit box for all assets, both online and off.
His company, Estate Assist, launches out of beta today. It’s aim is to help you store all your online passwords, social media accounts, digital health records, bank info and other paperwork. This is different from other companies offering online estate assistance. Much of this is actually a paid service involving a law firm and does not include online stored access to accounts.
The site works by informing whichever loved ones you choose that the account exists. It will release information about all your accounts and digital paperwork as soon as this person can verify you’ve passed. This part seemed like a potential security issue. I asked Levin if a family member could potentially access your financial or other information by tricking the system into believing you’ve passed. Levin was confident that would not happen, however. He says most security breaches on sites are actually POS attacks like the ones at Target or Home Depot. He also informed me Estate Assist uses bank level security methods and has built-in ID protection. Estate Safe Plus also includes identity theft protection and identity restoration.
The site goes beyond just information storage to act as an online bank box as well with its Estate Safe product. This makes it a bit different from just saving passwords and social media info on Dropbox or Google Docs. People store and access financial and other key info in the cloud such as financial assets or important life documents like birth certificates but are also able to find real time financial info. Estate Assist has a partnership with Intuit and hooks into the Intuit API to aggregate your financial and other data so that it is updated in real time. This, Levin informs me, should make it easier to locate bills and other things that need to be shut off in case of death.
Levin bootstrapped the business with funds from previously successful exits. He founded gaming company BringIt, which was acquired by International Gaming Technology in 2012 and NFL advertising company InStadium (those ads you see in the bathrooms at sports stadiums were his idea). He has also kicked off the launch of this new venture with some key partnerships. PerkSpot will offer Estate Assist to its 1.2 million employees as a preferred benefit option. WeWork has also provided each one of their 15,000 members with their own Estate Safe. Additional partners include over 4 million military and first responder members of ID.me, and Optima, which is offering Estate Assist as a paid benefit for employees.