Mike Vietri of Naperville said he and his wife have wills, but that not everything is contained in such a document.
Things like, what happens to their condo or how to take care of their dog when one of them dies, or even whether they want to be organ donors.
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"My wife and I sat down and had a lot of conversations around subjects you normally don't talk about," said Vietri, 57, an executive vice president of The Producers Group brokerage firm in Oak Brook.
So they turned to FinalRoadMap.com, founded by married couple Steve Byrne and Kerry Shannon of Darien. The website, launched in June 2013, offers a tool kit with about 100 pages of content in six categories and 23 forms to fill out, mostly Q&A and fill-in-the-blank.
A one-time membership fee is $249, said Shannon, a health care consultant for about 30 years. She and Byrne worked with an estate attorney to develop the content for the site, she said.
"This content covers everything necessary to thoughtfully and completely approach end-of-life wishes or a time, either temporary of permanent, when one can't speak for oneself. It simplifies and demystifies hundreds of things like 'What legal documents do I actually need?' or 'How do I make sure my pets are taken care of if something happens to me?'"
The site is designed for people who are legally able to make their own decisions. It is also secure and confidential, so even Byrne and Shannon cannot see how members answers the questions.
Members tend to be "planners by nature" she said.
Or they have witnessed a clinical situation they want to avoid, typically prolonged medical treatment with physical suffering and large financial expense. They also could be concerned about how a loved one will do later. Or they watched someone die without their wishes fulfilled or how it may have caused estrangements, she said.
Beyond the security, members can designate who can see the content and exactly which documents, she said.
"For example, I can permit my best friend to see all medical wish forms, my sister to see one of those, my minister to see my funeral and memorial service forms, and my lawyer to see my notification instructions," Shannon said. "The people who can see my contents are called designees. Whenever a designee looks at anything, I get an email. So, if I wonder why my sister looked at a form I can ask her."
The tool kit also contains reference material, which is updated periodically at no additional cost. The site does not include legal documents, yet it contains guidance on what those should be and how to create them, she said.
Once you become a member, you can have access to it for life, and change it as often as you wish, she said.
"For example, at this point my wish is to have my much-loved Mastiff at my side as I die," Shannon said. "If she predeceases me, I will change that and perhaps invite my husband. I'm kidding -- this topic is heavy enough by itself. We have been delighted by how much humor people bring to discussions about Final Road Map."
As for Vietri, he was so impressed by the site, he now touts the site to others, hoping they see it as a so-called "gap filler."
"Some think that if you have life insurance, a will and power of attorney documents, that everything will be OK," he said. "But it doesn't really allow everyone else to join in and understand the other things that are also important to you."
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