Life After Death

E-mailing from beyond

| July / August 2004


With just a little forethought and a few dollars, you can ensure your chance to have the last word -- even after your death. Two new companies, lastwishes.com and mylastemail.com, can e-mail stored messages, videos, and photographs to a user's friends and family in the unfortunate event of his or her passing. Mylastemail.com charges $9.99 for a three-year subscription, complete with electronic storage space for up to five postmortem messages. Lastwishes.com charges more -- a $40 enrollment fee plus $5 annually -- but offers unlimited message space and perks like the opportunity to create an electronic last will and testament. To prevent morbid mistakes, the Web sites will release your messages only after verifying your demise with a death certificate, or, in the case of mylastemail.com's 'auto release' option, after the passage of an agreed-upon period of time without account activity.

Karen Peach, who founded mylastemail.com, says her company rescues the anxious from the chore of deciding what to say when they're parting (perhaps forever) from friends and family. 'It's not always appropriate to leave the house every day and make some long speech to your husband or children about how you might not return,' Peach told The New York Times. 'We thought it would be good to have a log to put your thoughts down where there's no danger of people coming across it.'

Consumers apparently agree: Mylastemail.com received over 5 million hits in its first couple of weeks online, while lastwishes.com currently boasts more than 10,000 registered members.