It’s with tremendous pride and excitement that I use my first blog post in over a month to announce the launch of Legacy Locker. I’m one of the founders of the site, and I wanted to share a little backstory to where it came from and how it got here.
Two different personal events occured to me in the summer of 2007 that led to the conception of Legacy Locker. My grandmother unfortunately passed away, but at the age of 94 it’d be hard to say she didn’t live a full life. She and I used to exchange emails, a pastime of hers she also enjoyed with other friends and family around the world. My father and I tried to figure out a way to get into her Hotmail account, but had no luck and basically the account is, for all intents and purposes, unavailable.
On a more uplifting side, my wife and I had a son earlier that year, and in the summer sat down with an estate planner to establish a will (did you know in the state of California that if you don’t have a will/estate/trust, probate attorneys will claim 4% of your assets, including your life insurance money? scam). Anyhow, after literally hours of discussing my family tree and my various assets (car, 401k, signed Jean Beliveau picture, etc), I had a huge binder: our “estate” (I always pictured something with a mansion).
Last summer on a flight (yup, I remember that well), I had one of those “moments” in life, where I realized that while my physical assets were protected in my estate plan, I had nothing in place to deal with all of my online goods and assets. My computer’s password, my email accounts (all 5 of them), my Amazon store credit, my wordpress login, etc. If anything happened to me, virtually all of these assets would become literally inaccessible to my wife (or others), despite the fact that I had a will. While they were legally protected, in all practical terms they’d become effectively worthless (including the 70+ domains I own through GoDaddy). Legacy Locker was born.
When I returned home, I talked with my wife about the concept, and she completely recognized the need as well. I went to my business partner Adam, he too thought it made sense. I talked to a few other friends and close colleagues, and not a one said “nah, dumb idea, what are you thinking?” So Adam and I raised some money, and hired a team to get things done.
The site is pretty simple to actually use and understand. Users register, fill out a profile, and assign verifiers (people they trust to confirm their passing). Next, they create assets and beneficiaries. An asset is the online account information to a website, basically a username, password, and some notes. The beneficiary is the person they’d want to receive the asset. The last feature is called “Legacy Letters”, which are emails that get sent to family, friends, or colleagues with a “goodbye” note (in the future we’ll incorporate video as well). For more on how it works, click here.
So this morning the site goes live. The actual working service won’t come online for a few more weeks, as the final touches get put in place. We’re looking forward to getting everything up and running, collecting feedback, and building a great service. Our primary goal is to bring Legacy Locker to the attention of willmakers, attorneys, and estate planners who help service the 12.6 million households who have wills in place (and 900,000 new people every year), hence our slightly early launch.
I’ve been building consumer technology, from gadgets to websites, for the past 13 years. While I’ve worked on some amazing products in my time, this is my first opportunity to use technology in a way to truly help people. Thinking about loss is hard (which is why not enough people do backups and only 1/3 Americans have wills to protect their families). Dealing with loss is even harder, and if we can help make that part of life a little easier for some people, I consider that a great accomplishment.
ps – sorry about the no blogging all month thing – I was in the hospital dealing with a nasty combination of appendicitis and Crohn’s disease, but I’m doing much better now thanks!