“Plan for what is difficult while it is easy…”
The most successful companies are mission-driven. They set out to solve a problem that the founders themselves or their community have faced. This is true for the simple reason that starting a company from scratch is so difficult at times that those motivated merely by the goal of monetary gain don’t last. Our team has spent the past two years solving a problem that is deeply personal to us. Now that we’ve launched we want to pause, reflect on this, and share it with you.
My grandmother was my favorite person in the world. She was more than the matriarch of our family; she always went above and beyond to help us appreciate the wonder and fun in the world. My fondest memories of her are when she and I would climb the tree in her front yard together. It was a small tree but had this one sturdy, low-hanging branch that seemed like nature had engineered it as a bench, just for the two of us. We would hoist ourselves up into that tree and sit on that branch while she would read a book to me and watch the cars on her busy corner go by.
When she passed away a couple of years ago, our entire family descended upon my hometown from different parts of the country to pay our respects and help settle her estate. When we entered her house after the funeral, we realized that there was a lot of work — logistical and emotional — ahead of us that we hadn’t prepared for.
The first and biggest challenge we faced was the sheer volume of stuff! It all needed to be organized and in many cases, we needed to determine the value and the destination of her belongings. My grandparents had a great life in their home of 51 years, and they packed it full of heirlooms: little souvenirs from their travels, random gifts to each other that they treasured, military awards, and countless other bits here and there. We faced the seemingly impossible task of sorting all of this out, valuing it, and dispersing it as quickly as possible because we needed to get the house ready for sale so we could return to our homes, jobs, and lives.
The process of dividing up the personal property became the most difficult and gut-wrenching part of the grieving process. There were a lot of memories and emotions tied up in the small stuff, and there was value tied up too. We were faced with difficult discussions that could have — and probably should have — taken place ahead of time. Who should get what? How much is this stuff — each item individually — worth? Which charities would make the most sense for donations? Is everyone on the same page? Are we being fair? We all had strong opinions, raw emotions, and were plainly exhausted.
We decided to move the stuff to two storage units so we could sort things out outside of the home without delaying the sale of the house. Once we moved everything, we had no effective way of cataloging her things or communicating with each other from different parts of the country. We were using texts, emails, hand-written notes, phone calls, etc. When we finally started making decisions, none of us were on the same page, so this led to:
- Challenged Appraisals
- People feeling isolated & left out
- Lost items
- Broken bonds
The pain in my heart told me that there needed to be a change in this process. There needed to be one source of truth, one repository, where families could connect and determine the value, importance, and destination for personal property. And, ideally, a place work on this while we are all still living!
When I think about my grandmother, I always think of that tree in the front yard. That’s how I think about Estate Clarity. It is the branch on that tree, which keeps us connected to the ones we love, the property we value and memories we share. This is what drives us. As we build on our vision for Estate Clarity, this idea will remain at the core of our culture.