Planning for the Unexpected: Q&A with Abby Schneiderman, Co-Founder of Everplans

April 23, 2014

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If there is one thing that almost all parents and parents-to-be have in common it is planning and preparing for the next step – whether it’s trying to get pregnant, preparing for the baby & birth, planning that first birthday party, or trying for number 2. But what happens when the unexpected happens?

That’s exactly the question that Abby Schneiderman, Co-Founder of Everplans.com, tried to answer when she she realized that there were many online resources dedicated to the happy events in our lives, such as weddings and pregnancies, but very few dedicated to the unhappy, unexpected events. And so Everplans was formed, the most comprehensive end-to-end resource dedicated to making it easier to plan ahead for your family so they’re taken care of when something unexpected happens, such as sickness or death. Everplans functions as a step-by-step guide for everything from financial and medical planning to spiritual and grief counseling.

NN: Tell us the Everplans story. What was the inspiration behind Company?

AS: I was getting married and using all of the great sites out there (theknot.com, weddingchannel.com) to help me plan. I had been engaged for over two years and then directly after the wedding I went right into planning for the birth of my first child. It dawned on me that there were so many amazing resources for people planning *happy* life events like weddings and babies and I wondered what was out there for people who were dealing with the not-so-happy events, like aging and death. My Co-Founder Adam and I started researching and it seemed liked there was a huge void; we couldn’t find a single company who was trying to offer resources and guidance in a way that seemed created for people like us. We’re both parents of young kids and also have parents in their 60’s and 70’s. We thought: What would happen if we needed help one day? Where would we turn? So we built Everplans.

NN: What is the background of you and your co-founder?

AS: Adam and I are both repeat entrepreneurs. Adam was on the founding team of a company called SixDegrees.com (which was the first social network), and then went on to co-found a company called Fotolog.com — which is the biggest site you’ve never heard of. They were sort of like a precursor to Instagram; people could upload a photo a day. In 2007 they had over 30 million members and were the 15th most trafficked site in the world. I, too, am a tech entrepreneur. Prior to Everplans I co-founded one of the first music social networks which was called Haystack and then went on to work for a tech incubator where I helped other people take their ideas and build them into businesses. But I was always itching to do my next thing. When I met Adam I knew I wanted to build something with him. We felt like we could take our expertise in building big consumer sites and put it towards an area that felt so drastically left behind.

NN: Many find it difficult to plan for the unexpected, what first steps do you recommend so that parents and parents-to-be can ease into planning for future?

AS: It seems overwhelming at first, but when you take a step back and look at the landscape there are only a few things of vital importance.

1. First and foremost, new parents need to name a guardian for their kids, which means creating a Will. It doesn’t have to be fancy but it needs to be official because if something happens to you and you don’t pick a person to care for your kids then the courts will be making the choice for you. As a mom, the thought of someone other than my husband or myself deciding who raises our daughter is infinitely more terrifying than creating a basic Will.

2. Make sure your family is financially taken care of in case something happens. This can be taken care of with Life Insurance. There are two main types of Life Insurance: Term and Permanent. Term covers you over a set amount of time and can be somewhat affordable depending on your age, health and habits. Perm (also known as Whole Life or Universal), never expires but can be a lot more expensive. Many people think they’re covered because they have a policy through their job. But the reality is, your company policy is usually not robust enough.

So even though there are other things you can do to plan ahead, just getting a Will and Life Insurance taken care of will be hugely valuable to your family.

Our goal is to take the mystery and confusion out of this planning, and focus on why you plan in the first place–your family and loved ones–so you actually want to do it.

NN: What type of services and information can people find on Everplans?

AS: In addition to the hundreds of articles, checklists, and guides that we have on everything from how to write a will, to what to wear to a funeral, we offer a planning tool  that helps people get their affairs in order. We take you through an assessment, find out what planning you’ve done, and then give you and checklist and personalized recommendations on what you should tackle first. We then allow you to store your documents and plans in your “Everplan”, and share your plan with the people in your life you want to have access (we call those people your “deputies”).

You have complete control over what you share and with whom, so you don’t have to worry about anyone seeing thing you don’t want them to see.

NN: What role has technology played in helping to achieve the Everplans mission?

AS: Everplans relies on a number of things that wouldn’t be possible without the use of technology: the ability for us to create a step-by-step personalized platform custom to each individual, the ability for us to allow them to securely store their information and scanned documents in their Everplan (which is in the cloud), the ability to share these electronic plans with different people, and the ability for us to put all of it in one place. The fact that we can create a simpler, more intuitive way for people to get this planning done is critical, we think, in getting more people the ability to get over the hurdle and DO this planning! And of course, it’s all online, so you can do all of it in the comfort of your own home if you choose to do so.

NN: What advice do you have for people that used Everplans and are ready to take the next step & find legal and medical consultation? Is there a directory or resources you recommend?  

AS: The first step is to take our quick assessment and get an overview of what you need to get done. For people who need to get a Will created, and want to do it online, we offer a link to a company called RapidDocs that is offering Everplans customers free wills and legal documents for our launch. But for people who have potentially complicated estates, we recommend you speak with an actual attorney to draft your will or set up trusts. And you should find your estate attorney the same way you’d find a good babysitter:  ask your friends, family and other people you trust for recommendations.

To document your healthcare wishes, we have resources for you inside the Everplan where you can create your Advance Directive, which includes your Living Will and naming a Health Care Proxy. These documents are free and available on our site along with state-by-state instructions on what you need to do to make them official. We just want to make sure you remember to add them back into your Everplan after you’ve signed them so that you store them and share them properly.

NN: How did you come up with the name Everplans? What is an Everplan?

AS: It was really hard! Ultimately we picked a name that felt like it conveyed that we were a company that would help you do this kind of planning. And we thought it wasn’t super cheesy like the rest of the names we were considering. :)

Abby Schneiderman is a repeat entrepreneur who loves finding ways to use technology to make people’s lives better. Prior to co-founding Everplans, Abby was a Principal at Tipping Point Partners, a NYC start-up incubator, where she was part of the team that launched several businesses, including AppOrchard, an iOS consultancy for the enterprise, and Cookstr, a recipe-driven nutritional technology company. In 2004, Abby co-founded Haystack Media, one of the first music social networks.