A recently launched St. Petersburg startup is modernizing the antiquated process of estate planning and end-of-life preparation by offering a holistic, digital support platform.
Addio’s goal is to bring caregivers, advisors and planners together to offer a cloud-based approach that supports families as they prepare for life’s inevitable finality. According to its website, the platform also provides a place for family stories, expert advice and “more ways to say goodbye with greater peace.”
The startup launched last month, and its software-as-a-service platform is fully operational. During Wednesday’s 1 Million Cups event, hosted by Thrive DTSP, Addio co-founder Gabe Caldwell told a panel of local business leaders how he and his partner realized a need for the company through their personal estate planning experience.
“There’s lots of meetings, emails, personal signings and even the occasional fax,” said Caldwell. “Then they give you this big three-ring binder and tell you to put it in a safety deposit box.”
With a background in software engineering and technology, Caldwell said that he and his business partner found the process preposterous. Like many people in an increasingly digital world, he said they expect to access anything through their phones.
When they asked if there was a mobile application or cloud-based solution, Caldwell said, “they looked at us like weirdos.” After a Google search did not find a more modern and streamlined alternative, the co-founders began creating a solution.
“A place where we safely can put our will, our trust and our end-of-life documents,” said Caldwell. “Organize our assets and affairs – right in the cloud and globally encrypted.”
After receiving approval from their friends and family, Caldwell said the entrepreneurs spent the next couple of months consulting with professionals including financial advisors, state attorneys, home health caregivers and the families they serve to ascertain common problems beyond digitally storing documents.
Caldwell said they found several global trends, beginning with a lack of planning.
“Only 40% of families have a will and a trust,” he said. “If you don’t have a will and a trust, you’re going to deal with a whole host of challenges at end-of-life.”
A person not knowing where assets and accounts are stored can lead to a lengthy and costly probate process, Caldwell added.
Caldwell said Addio leads families through a “very digestible process, kind of like TurboTax.” Step-by-step, users can store documents and assets and organize information on the platform.
When a person needs care, Caldwell said families and providers could access medical information, prescription lists and appointment schedules. Family members can also coordinate responsibilities with one another through the app.
“This is a project management tool,” said Caldwell. “Also, you can see care updates. What’s been done for Mom and Dad?
“You can see who did what, details, the notes, and share pictures.”
When death inevitably comes, Caldwell said Addio provides a simple checklist based on personal information. The platform recommends immediate actions to take, like managing financial and digital accounts and how to navigate probate proceedings.
Caldwell said users could integrate other family members by clicking a button and then assigning tasks and timelines. Addio automatically installs reminders and then sends alerts to a person’s mobile device.
The last aspect, said Caldwell, is mental health. He noted that losing someone you love is a big part of life, and many people need help with the grieving process.
“So, we provide experts we call death doulas within our application,” he said.
A doula is a trained companion that offers support through significant health-related experiences, such as childbirth, miscarriages and death. Users can message the doulas through the app or schedule Zoom calls.
“They can give you tips on how to grieve,” said Caldwell. “They can give you tips on how to have tough family conversations that are pretty awkward.”
Addio provides its services as a monthly subscription, with plans starting at $9. He told the panel the founders hope to democratize the end-of-life process. Caldwell said the company would create partnerships with attorneys, advisors and caregivers, listed by state.
Caldwell said the company does not look for paybacks for the recommendations and will likely offer discounts for wraparound services. He also assured attendees that uploaded data is safely encrypted, although the company would continue to store the information if someone discontinues their subscription.
The startup, which Caldwell noted launched just over three weeks ago, currently serves under 100 families. He told the panel his only ask was that if they – or people close to them – are going through end-of-life processes, to reach out to him.
“We’re looking to serve users and learn,” he said. “My co-founders and I really want to spend time … with families to help them out.”
To learn more about Addio, visit the website here.