Leveraging the Inevitable

Death and taxes — life’s only certainties. Taxpayers have been able to file via the Web for a while, and now Todd Michael Krim has launched an on-line service aimed at what he calls “the end of life industry.”

Krim, a former healthcare attorney, came up with the idea for Finalthoughts.com (www.finalthoughts.com) during a turbulent flight from Los Angeles to London in March 1999. “If that plane went down,” Krim says grimly, “I wouldn’t have left any final messages for my family.”

Subscribing to Finalthoughts.com is free. Users fill out a registration form in which they can include a list of e-mail addresses, final messages and instructions for such things as funeral arrangements, estate plans and taking care of Fido. Once the inevitable occurs, a guardian angel pre-chosen by the newly deceased presses the send button, and the dearly departed’s wishes whiz across the internet.

Why is this a good idea? In the throes of grief, argues Krim, the last thing loved ones should have to worry about is tracking down documents.

Krim is plotting to turn his venture into a profit-making entity. Currently, A Guide to Recalling and Telling Your Life Story, by the Hospice Foundation of America, is available at the site for US$15. Krim plans to offer subscribers multimedia e-mails, funeral broadcasting, chat rooms, bulletin boards and on-line support groups. “Eventually,” he says gravely, “we want to be the consumer portal for end-of-life planning.”

To do that, Finalthoughts.com will partner with funeral homes, estate planners, attorneys and the like.

“As a provider of consumer information, we’ll be like the Charles Schwab of the funeral industry,” Krim says.