Thursday, August 3, 2017

Making a Will

August is national Make a Will Month.  There are many reasons why you should make a will, but one of the first points to make is that once you are an adult you should make your will.  Here are some reasons why you should make a will:

1.  To have your wishes recorded so they can be respected when the time comes.
2.  It can help reduce inheritance tax on effects left.
3.  You can avoid family conflict by declaring who gets what, families have been torn apart through arguing over this - which is never a good legacy.
4.  It gives you peace of mind.

When you start preparing your will, discuss it with your partner so you can make choices together.  Also you will need to mention it to anyone who you plan on being an executor.  Being an executor brings many responsibilities, it can be more than just helping a friend out.  Make sure you are prepared for all this can entail.

When it comes to making a will, try and get a recommendation for a lawyer.  The recommendation should come from someone who has used a will following a death rather than someone who is still alive.  A lawyer may appear to be very professional and helpful before drawing up a terrible will.

Here are some problems that can come from having a poorly drawn up will:

1.  Family squabbles.
2.  Everyone gets lawyers to contest the will, the lawyers get most (all) of the money.
3.  The people you trusted the most as executors end up being served frivolous lawsuits by naive executors/family members which harm them for years.
4.  The state gets more money than it should.

Point 3 is an important one.  When someone asks you to be an executor where there is a business involved, this is a tremendous responsibility which requires a lot of serious thought.  As probate court is not a criminal court you can be sued without any justification to force you to do what someone else wants.  This process can last for years and can affect job prospects, financial planning etc.

So you have decided to you should have a will.  Make an appointment with that lawyer as soon as you have found a good one, get the ball rolling.  It may be one of the best things you ever do for your family!  You may get hit by a bus tomorrow and not have your estate used in the manner in which you would like.

Of course whilst you do your formal legacy, think about your informal one too.  This is where comes in.  A few minutes spent here could mean the absolute world to someone later.  Like with your will, do not delay it; tomorrow may be too late.  When you have both your formal and informal legacies taken care of you will feel a tremendous relief.

Finally, think about what matters to you.  You do not have to leave a legacy; if you are retired and have some funds, go out there and enjoy yourself - you have earned it.

Peter Barrett

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Save that Voicemail

A few times, the same issue has been brought to our attention, "How to permanently save a voicemail message?"  This request has come as people have found voicemails from departed loved ones which they wish to cherish somehow and of course such files can be great artifacts for GoneNotGone.

The good news is that there are ways to do this, obviously depending on the device, but in many cases without much (if any) loss of audio quality.

Apple iPhone (iOS 9):

Open the voicemail application, select the voicemail and then click on the share icon:

You can then forward as you want.

Generic phone with a headphone jack:

You can record direct to your computer.

First you will need a standard audio lead:

Plug it into the headphone socket on your phone and then the audio (or microphone) socket on your computer:

Open the Recording Devices menu by right clicking on the speaker icon on the right side of the task bar:

and then make sure that Line-In has a green check mark (for default):

Open the "Voice Recorder" application which should be in your Windows Menu.  Have your phone ready to play the voicemail, then click on the microphone icon in Voice Recorder and start playing the voicemail:

Hit the stop icon when the voicemail has finished and it is now saved to your computer.  When you play it back, you may be surprised at the sound quality.

How about a landline?

Many landlines today are VOIP (voice over internet protocol), many can be configured to send voicemails direct to your email.  If this is not configured and you have a voicemail stored, then you may need to contact your phone company to get it configured and find a way to access the old voicemail.

If you are still using a clunky old external voice recorder, you may need to set it to play and then use a laptop (or similar) to record the message from the device speaker, which may result in some loss of audio quality.

Once you have your file it is obviously up to you what you do with it, but it could be part of a very special message on GoneNotGone, sending a recording of Grandma along with your own voice.

If you have any queries, or need any help with something like this, please send us an email at

Peter Barrett

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Fun With a Hearse

A little more light-hearted blog today.

Years ago a car rally used to run from the Big Apple (New York) to the Big Easy (New Orleans) and it was known as the BABE rally.  The rules were simple, the main one being that your car should not cost more than $500.

My wife and her friends set their team name to the "Helllcats" as an all woman team and I thought it would be fun to find them a hearse.  Now cheap hearses are not easy to find, but find one I did, in Las Vegas of course, a mere 1,500 miles or so from Houston.  Here she is, still in Las Vegas:

Unfortunately it broke down in Vegas, then again in New Mexico, so we towed it home to Houston:

We then set about fixing it and I quickly learned something interesting.  I was working inside the back of the hearse.  There was a partition behind the driver area, two rear passenger doors and the back door.  The two rear passenger doors and the main back door did not have handles on them, as passengers back there would normally not be expected to leave; so here I was locked in the back of a hearse with no easy way to get out.  Fortunately I had my phone with me.

The problem which sidelined us in New Mexico was that the exhaust was rubbing on the plastic fuel tank and eventually burned a hole through the tank.  Back in Houston we bought an entire spare Buick Roadmaster (which once belonged to the cousin of Carrol Shelby), removed the fuel tank, the bits which held the exhaust correctly in place and the shields which had rusted off the original, but basically were there to stop the exhaust rubbing on the tank.  I cut out most of the rear platform for holding the coffins and installed a rear seat from our donor car.

The door cards in the back were modifed with handles so the passengers could get out:

The car was ready and was driven to New York!  A cheap room was secured at the Waldorf Astoria and our beautiful hearse delighted the valet parkers:

The car then made the rally from New York to New Orleans with only a few minor issues.  In fact it did so well we took it on the rally again the next year.  We drove it on the "Tail of the Dragon" a road on the Tennessee/North Carolina border synonymous with car and bike enthusiasts, we even made the weekly cover photo of the famed photographer, KillBoy:

We got many stares as we drove around in our hearse, but it made for a very practical vehicle as you could get a lot of stuff in the back of it.  On the highway it was a smooth and refined cruiser, despite spending much of its life at a pedestrian pace, in fact they make for a very practical vehicle.

Some people would refuse to get in it, others thought it was just the funniest thing ever and this really corresponds with how people think about death.  Some people are comfortable with thinking about it, whilst others want to avoid it and anything to do with it.  As with anything, the better prepared we are, the better it is.  Get wills prepared early and then think about what else you can do - I have blogged a checklist which you can refer to.  Using our service, we take away some of the finality of death by allowing you to send messages and remain a part of a loved ones life after you have left.  It is simple, reasonable, and could mean the world to those left behind.

Sign up today, before it is too late.  Then find adventures, like we did with our hearse, as life is for living!

Monday, April 3, 2017

What to do with Ashes?

Over the weekend a friend posted an interesting link on my Facebook account which gave me an idea for a new blog.  The link is option 7 here.

Another blog will be coming soon on "Green Burials" but today I am considering what you can do with ashes, beyond the traditional scattering.  There are two important points to make right upfront.  First, whatever you do make sure you have the necessary permission.  Second, decide something as there are too many stories of mishaps with ashes left hanging around, such as Keith Richards apparently snorting his father and a few burglars following along in similar lines.

Like with all things you should discuss it with those around you if any of this appeals to you.  I am thinking mainly option 1, but also some of 3 too.

Note that you get back a lot of ashes, so some of these options require only a small portion of ashes, or due to limitations can only take a small portion.

So here are some suggestions:

1.  A Tree

You can select a tree, the seeds are part of a biodegradable urn, which uses the ashes to nourish the ground which the tree grows in.  Of course you have to plan carefully ahead where you are going to plant the tree, though your back garden may be obvious if you are planning on moving then this may not be best.  Talk to your local authority and see where they have tree planting projects and if you can have your urn planted as part of this project.

Go here for suitable urns:

2.  Tattoos

Tattoos are getting more and more popular and some tattoo parlous will mix ashes in with the ink they are using for tattoos.  In this way your loved one is with you wherever you go.  Of course be sure to check the medical risks first.

3.  Fireworks

Off with a bang!  Have ashes become part of a firework, send them off with a bang as they are scattered.

Here are a couple of links:

UK -
US -

4.  Diamonds

Using the carbon content from within ashes a unique diamond can be grown, with many options to choose from.

5.  To the moon!

A portion of ashes can be sent to the moon or blasted off into outer space.  Only a small portion of the ashes will typically be used due to the size and weight of ashes.

6.  In a painting.

Ashes can be mixed with the oil in oil paint to crate a unique picture.  It can be a portrait of the ashes donor, a memorable landscape, whatever is an appropriate symbol.

7.  As a record

With a brilliant name, AndVinyly will press your ashes into a record for you.

8.  Stained Glass

Similar to the paint, but with stained glass which gives rise to many sculptured possibilities.

9.  Sculpture

Have a unique sculpture created contining some of the ashes.

10.  At your favourite team's pitch.

Some clubs do and some clubs do not allow you to scatter ashes at their grounds.  Some will allow to scatter on the pitch whereas others may have special memorial areas.  Here are some links to help (and not my favourite English club is top of the heap here, if nowhere else).

UK -
US - Contact the appropriate stadium to see what their rules are

Peter Barrett

Friday, March 24, 2017

Checklist of Things to Prepare Before you Pass.

This may be a slightly unsettling news item, but the problem is that too many people are not prepared for what would happen if the worst occured.  What you do not want to do is leave your loved ones with a mess to clear up after you and worse still, the state grabbing much of what you spent your life building, so be prepared.  As we said in a previous News Item it is never too early to start planning, but too late is exactly that.
Here is the GoneNotGone checklist, if you think it is useful, let us know and we will make it a link on the home page, if there is something I have missed, let me know and I can add it, we want to be more than an after death email service.
1.`Prepare a will with a legal professional.  Do not delay, start the ball rolling today by calling a lawyer.
2. Designate a "Power of Attorney" at the same time as making your will.  You may want more than one power, depending on the use (e.g. one for financial matters, another for health matters).  With this you may want to include what would happen to you if you were on life support, do you want to donate your organs etc.  Remember there is a chance you can give life to many when you lose your life.
3. As above, make sure you are registered as an organ donor if that is your wish.
4.  Pre-plan your funeral and start paying for it, life insurance may not cover these costs.  At the very least make sure those closest to you know if you want to be cremated and what should happen to your ashes.
5. Prepare your funeral service wishes too, who you want there, who you do not want there, a list of contact information and how you want to be remembered (for me, I want people to wear bright colours, tell bad jokes and remember the good things, hopefully laugh).
6. Set up your future memories using gonenotgone.  Do not delay, start today, this can be fun and could be the one most valuable step here.
7.  Make a list of banks, accounts, passwords etc. and make sure your main executor knows where it is.  keep it updated.
8.  Make sure all house deeds, car titles (V5s etc.) are easy to locate.
9.  Ensure all utility contracts are available so there is no problem with the electricity being turned off or similar.

Monday, March 13, 2017

After Death Email - It's not for you?

Before we decided to develop a lot of thought and consultation went into the decision - as with any business decision.  We generally got a very favorable reaction, but two groups of reactions stood out:

  1.  It is not for me, I do not like the sound of my own voice, do not know why anyone would want to hear from me when I am no longer here.

  2.  I had a recording of my Mom left on our answerphone, I would play it over and over again so I could hear her voice again.  Eventually the recording got accidentally erased and I miss it so much.

As you can no doubt see, reaction 2 answers reaction 1.  This is the point of the blog, after death emails or messages are not for you, they are for those who love you and will miss you when you are gone.  They help with the grieving process and can turn a sad day into a happier one.

This is one of the reasons we set up a service to deliver messages on anniversaries.  These are often the days when a loved one is missed, so now a new message can be received on each anniversary and what may be a day dreaded turns into a day of love and remembrance through receiving a message you have never had before.

Imagine a child saying, "I cannot wait for my next Birthday, I am going to get a new message from Dad".

Then like with the answering machine, you can log into the website and playback that message whenever you want, wherever you are.  The only thing you cannot do is access those messages left for the future.

My one dread is the following, someone asking the following, "Did my Mother leave messages for me with your service?" and knowing that her Mother had talked about it, but never got round to it as she believed she was not about to pass and having to tell that person, "No, sorry".

For your children or loved ones (not you), sign up today and set up that first message; may be the best five minutes you have donated to your child ever.

Peter Barrett

Monday, March 6, 2017

Organ Donation - Who Knows?

In Texas the process for organ donation is about to change.  Rather than opting-in to donate your organs, when you apply for your Driver's License you will have to opt-out.

The reasons given are that there are not enough organ donations and people are dying who could otherwise live through organ donation.

I am not going to get into the whys of organ donation, that is a personal decision and no one person can really know what may make a person think one way or another.  However there is a far more important point and the the reason for this blog:

    Do those close to you know your wishes?

This is as simple as letting your wife/husband/daughter etc. know that you would or would not like your organs donated.  In particular if you have strong opinions on this, then those close to you should know, so that when it comes to it your wishes are met.

My wife and I both think the same and we both know that, we have discussed it and if/when the time comes we know what to do.  This brings us peace of mind.  It is all part of being prepared for when the end comes.

Of course GoneNotGone is all about helping to prepare for what happens when we pass, please check back to our blog and in the meantime check out

Peter Barrett