When my grandmother passed away in 2017, the grief my family was experiencing was quickly compounded by frustration. Everything was a mess. It took over a year to find all of the information we needed, things like insurance policies, legal documents, assets, liabilities, records, and things of that nature, and even after a year, it wouldn’t surprise me if we didn’t find everything. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know.
I’ve talked to hundreds of people who have experienced situations similar to what my family went through. Situations where we don’t know what we need or where to find it, and the person who had this information is no longer available to help us.
This consistently and predictably leads to feelings of frustration and hopelessness, often at the worst of times. Most of us who have experienced these feelings have spent a significant amount of time thinking about how to make sure those who rely on us don’t end up in a similar situation in the future.
One of the most popular tools that we turn to are end of life checklists. These tools are actually highly useful for people who want to audit their information to make sure their family is prepared, should something happen to them.
There are no shortage of these lists, and I’ll attach a few at the end for reference, but they are all pretty similar in how they are laid out. From a very high level, they cover documents for end of life planning like power of attorney, wills & trusts, assets & liabilities important contacts & beneficiaries, digital information, Advance directives like funeral preferences, etc.
After completing any of these lists, at minimum, I would know that I actually possess the information that someone else would need should something happen to me.
So, what is the most overlooked part of this process?
Communicating this information effectively to those who will inevitably need it one day.
Unsurprisingly, the most common reason for conflict with families is communication and interaction differences. Communicating is especially difficult on an intergenerational level.
While it’s great to audit my information and make sure I’ve got everything my family would need, if it’s not effectively communicated to them so that they will reliably have what they need when they need it, there are still going to be predictable issues that arise. After all, if I create an end of life checklist, I’m not making it for myself, I’m making it for someone else.
We started noticing how often the communication component was overlooked a couple years ago when we did over 10,000 polls to get a high level understanding of the types of information being shared by families, and how they are communicated.
We learned that the types of information families have are growing at an increasing rate (more than 100% every decade), and the communication practices for this information have almost stayed the same for the last 10 years.
So, how do families communicate their information? And how can that be improved?
We’ll cover the two most popular ways families communicate.
I’ll use my parents as an example to illustrate the first type, as they are a good example of what we commonly see, but to give them credit, they’re well ahead of the curve.
My parents keep their information in a safe physical location in their house. A few folders with important legal, insurance, personal, and other types of information. A collection of documents & handwritten notes about what they have. One day, (maybe) 7 years ago they showed me their information and where it was in case something happened to them and I needed it.
The fact that they told me what they have and showed me where it was is something that I, as well as most others, wouldn’t have a big issue remembering. If you asked me to recall everything that was in there, I bet I could get it 50-75% right. So I know some of what they have, and where that information is if I ever need it.
What they’ve effectively done is aggregate the information that they think I will need in one physical place. The problem is that I (and anyone else in a similar situation) don’t know what I don’t know.
What about their digital accounts, credentials, important contacts, device access codes (I guarantee their iPad code isn’t in there), information about other assets, etc.?
So word of mouth is the most common way this is communicated. Around 75% of information communicated via word of mouth is forgotten after one week. It helps when there’s visual reinforcement, but with this type of communication, the recipient is very likely to forget a large portion of what they are told or shown.
The second method, which is growing in popularity, is actually slightly less effective than word of mouth with or without reinforcement. This method is sharing information with someone digitally in their email inbox.
Here’s how that works: I put some of my important information in an online platform, let’s say Google drive. I share that folder or file with someone. They get an email in their inbox. Then two predictable things happen.
The first is that within 1-2 years, 80+% of the personal information in my (or the average person’s) drive is unorganized or highly unorganized. Let’s be honest – Google drive is a great product that does a lot of things well, but the amount of effort it takes for someone to keep all of their information organized is greater than what almost all people are willing to put in, which is why things predictably become unorganized quickly. Google drive is optimized for a multitude of things, but none of them are helping families communicate information more effectively, especially the recipient.
The second depends on how much time passes between me sharing something and the person who I shared it with needing to access that information. They aren’t going to access it, or think about it until they need it, which is human nature.
Unfortunately, the more time passes, the higher likelihood that the email has been discarded, deleted, lost, or inaccessible for any other reason. Which when combined with the level of effort it takes to keep a drive organized and up to date means it’s unlikely that the person whom I shared with will be able to access that information when they need it.
The real issue here is really a lack of good options.
And that’s why we created Kinnect. After my grandmother passed away, I spent a tremendous amount of time searching for options that would help my parents and myself equally, but they just didn’t exist, which is why we built a platform that simplifies how families share information.
So how does Kinnect help families communicate information effectively?
Here’s how it works in 3 steps:
- I create connections to those I share information with in privacy. People who can easily share information with me, and people who I can easily share information with.
- I manage my information utilizing over 200 (bank grade secure) optimized templates, from Netflix accounts to advance directives. Like a digital end of life checklist, but not exclusively just for end of life information. I can enter basic or detailed information for all of the types of information my family needs now or in the future.
- I share my information in my own way. I determine who each folder or file is shared with, when that person gets access to my information, and if I want notifications if they view certain files. I can set up automated distributions, which would ensure that if something happened to me, those who need my information would have it.
And when I share a folder or file with someone, it’s automatically organized in the recipients vault. They can see who is sharing with them, what they are sharing, and when they will get access to restricted information. It’s all the information they will need in the future in one central, secure location.
We know most people spend a tremendous amount of time making sure they have everything they need, and that their families are prepared. We believe there should be a better, more reliable way of communicating this information to those who will need it one day.
Our business model is similar to Slack, there’s a robust free system because we want it to be accessible and useful for all families, since this is such a pervasive issue that’s only getting worse.
If you, or anyone you know wants to get early access in mid-2021, let us know by signing up, we’d love to know if you think we’ll help your family communicate better.
As promised, here is a list of good end of life checklists: