POSTED BY: Francine Hardaway Guest blogger-Phoenix Business Journal, February 5, 2013

    Entrepreneurship has no expiration date. Within the sea of people willing to take a chance to do something they think will change the world are plenty of seasoned veterans.

    My friend and former client Julian j. Blum, who recently retired after 50 years of real estate brokerage and investment, called me a couple of weeks ago with all the persistence of the young people I mentor — and a bit more pressure. He said something like “I’ve called you three times. Don’t you ever answer your phone?”

    Unfortunately, I’ve pretty much given up answering the phone, because — like most of the people I work with these days — I find it interruptive and much prefer asynchronous modes of communication. But Julian and I have been friends for 20-odd years, and he was my client multiple times when I was in the PR business. So I guiltily returned the call.
    “I have something I want to show you,” he said excitedly. “I think you will like it.”
    Another interruptive hot button. Entrepreneurs pitch me all day long, and they ALL think I will like it, or even love it. But what the heck; I scheduled a coffee.

    When we met, I was the person with egg on her face. Julian did have something good. In the usual way for entrepreneurs, he had a problem, looked all over the place for a solution, couldn’t find one, and decided to make one himself.

    DyingToKnow.info is the creation of an 85-year-old husband determined to leave his wife with as much information as possible about their affairs and his wishes for his funeral, end-of-life care, and disposition of assets. Although guidelines were available, nothing was comprehensive enough to handle all the information he felt should be conveyed, and the information that was supplied was in legalese, very detailed and rather somber.

    It dawned on Julian that death, like life, could best be dealt with humorously. With the skills of a writer who used to contribute articles to the Real Estate Press, The Human Services Review and The Phoenix Center City Magazine, he decided to try his hand at creating a much-needed book using comic illustrations and simple explanations to describe serious issues.

    The result is a very complete manual for a daunting task, available in a binder, and eventually through an app. His slogan became: “We all gotta go sometime, so let’s mix a little humor with a serious subject.” He chose the binder format first because of the need to include all the forms.

    The great thing about this product is its comprehensiveness. As a widow, I know what happens after a spouse dies. You’re grieving, but you are also running around looking for all the forms you need. Julian’s package includes the means to notify people about your bank accounts, insurance and other financial data; who gets paid when, what, and how; how you want to be treated during your terminal illness; your funeral arrangements and costs; and even the contents of your obituary. He even tells how to dispose of your personal effects; document your assets, liabilities and tax information; and tell your family where your important documents are.

    Some people use an attorney for all this; they do elaborate estate planning, select an executor, and create wills, trusts and powers of attorney in advance. And then they file those documents away somewhere, and the spouse doesn’t know they even exist, much less where they are. That would be me. I did all this 15 years ago. But where the heck are those files?

    More people ignore the issue, hoping everything will resolve after their departure. That’s why Julian created a purposefully folksy, informal and even cartoon- looking package with all the information in it. It’s like the old Classic Comics; they gave you the plots of heavy-duty literature in a format you could stand.

    You can buy it online, and of course Julian is mailing it himself. In a startup, everyone does everything, right? I hope he is able to make a dent in this market. It’s a big one, and no one seems to control it yet. Did I tell you Julian Blum is 85?

    See www.DyingToKnow.INFO

    (See original article on the Phoenix Business Journal Website.)

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