By Sharael Kolberg, California Business Journal.
When Doris Schwartz was 35 and running a business, her 80-year-old mother came to live with her. Doris had no idea that one of the tasks she would be taking over would be to send birthday and holiday gifts and cards to 15 grandchildren and great grandchildren. At that time, Doris had three young children of her own. Just keeping track of all the children’s names, birthdates, and addresses was a daunting task, but on top of that, she also had to select a greeting and gift card for each item, and then mail it all off. “I was so busy that year, I even forgot my own wedding anniversary,” she says with a laugh.
Schwartz was determined to find a way to make it easily manageable, not only for herself, but for others. That’s how WILLPORT was born. It is the first-ever app-based deployment platform that allows for easy electronic scheduling and secure sending of money, electronic gift cards, flowers, and experiences up to 14 months in advance. It’s like having multiple apps in one — a calendar, e-greeting cards, money transfer, online shopping and gift sending. The first version of the app is available now via the App Store and Google Play.
According to the Greeting Card Association, Americans purchase 6.5 billion greeting cards each year to go along with gifts they are giving. Schwartz has created a way for users to not only attach an e-greeting to their gifts, but they can also send customized voice and video greeting cards as well. Rather than receiving a gift in the mailbox with a handwritten card, now recipients will receive their gifts in their WILLPORT newsfeed with personalized photos, voice memos and videos — special touches that make gifting “that much more personal.”
“WILLPORT’s goal is to make sure you can connect with family and friends, be reminded of and easily schedule gifting for important events,” Schwartz says. “With WILLPORT, you’ll never forget a gift again.”
Using the app couldn’t be easier. It works like a personal assistant. “You register and invite friends and family to input their birthdates, anniversaries and other special events; all the data is then automatically added to your WILLPORT calendar,” Schwartz says. Then, a week before someone’s birthday, you get a push notification. You can send a gift or you can schedule every gift for the entire year. The gifts show up in the recipient’s newsfeed on the date the delivery was scheduled.
For now, the app is limited to sending gifts that are available for purchase through the app, which includes e-gift cards to approximately 200 retailers, money, floral arrangements and curated experiences. The company plans to continually expand its offerings.
With Schwartz’s executive background in finance and banking, she utilized her talents and experience to also create WILLPORTtrust, which will launch in 2021. It will allow users to set up an “afterlife” plan to schedule and distribute their retirement money, over time, to beneficiaries.
“WILLPORTtrust streamlines the antiquated process of distributing assets and can help mitigate probate,” Schwartz says. “Right now trusts belong to high net worth individuals. By simplifying it, we are opening it up to the mass market.”
To create such a unique platform, Schwartz and her family and friends worked together to assemble some of the top CPA and law firms in the U.S. to enable this project to unfold. “We had to come up with a structure that was tax compliant, streamlined and secure,” she says.
WILLPORTtrust was built using blockchain technology, which, according to the Financial Times, allows multiple parties to have simultaneous access to a constantly updated digital ledger that cannot be altered. “This secure form of transaction is becoming more accepted throughout the banking industry,” Schwartz says. The Blockchain Trust can deploy, over time, inheritance money with attached messages and gifting directly and electronically to your beneficiaries via the WILLPORT APP.
“We partner with banks and are working behind bank firewalls,” Schwartz says. “The bank is acting as trustee for us since it is holding the account. Banks are motivated to help us because part of the transfer of wealth comes back into the bank.”
Over the next three years, an estimated $24 trillion will be transferred from Baby Boomers to their millennial heirs in what’s being called the “Great Wealth Transfer.” So, the timing of the launch of WILLPORTtrust “couldn’t be better,” Schwartz says.
WILLPORTtrust’s purpose is to see that clients’ money, memories and messages are securely transported into the future, as per their will. “So, for example, a grandmother can deploy money over 20 years electronically directly to her children and grandchildren with attached voice messages and words of wisdom,” Schwartz says.
“I think the personal voice messaging and video have incredible value, even over the money.” she adds. “WILLPORTtrust allows users to send gifts, like flowers, or a travel adventure and messages after they are deceased. When it comes directly from the person, it so much more powerful.” Gifting can be deployed over 10 years. However, monetary inheritance can be deployed over the life expectancy of a beneficiary.
WILLPORTtrust also allows users to upload wills, account passwords, and important documents that the beneficiaries will be given direct access to. “Both sides of the platform allow the moving money and gifting within the same family and friends ecosystem.” Schwartz says. “We are making it easy on people because there’s no one in the middle. The WILLPORTtrust platform takes the burden off executors having to write checks and get into battles with family members.“
WILLPORT and WILLPORTtrust will launch new features in the coming months. In August of 2020, wealth management vouchers will be available. These blockchain investment and coaching vouchers are given to a beneficiary in a specific dollar amount, but they can only be redeemed at a specified Registered Investment Advisor. This ensures that the beneficiary will wisely invest the gift, rather than spending it as cash. In October of 2020, Schwartz will be integrating peer-to-peer transfer of funds. And in 2021, the app will enable users to pool money to pay for gifts together.
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