After Getting Sick, She’s Helping Others Prepare End-Of-Life Plans
It’s difficult to think about end-of-life plans. In a perfect world, things would sort themselves out, and surviving family members and friends would not have to deal with too many logistics. Unfortunately, this is not the case as estate planning can be complicated and expensive. To make the process easier and more affordable, Renee Fry co-founded Gentreo, an easy-to-use online software provider that helps users create essential estate-planning documents such as wills, trusts, healthcare proxies, legal plans to protect family, and more.
Fry tells CircleAround that she was inspired to create Gentreo after becoming ill herself, and had to think about her family’s future. “I had a massive (non-cancerous) brain tumor at the age of 37,” she says. “They weren't sure if I would talk or walk again.” As a result, Fry realized there needed to be an easier, less expensive way for people to plan their estates, at any point in their life, because trying to deal with it in the moment of profound stress and sadness wasn’t it.
I had a massive (non-cancerous) brain tumor at the age of 37. They weren't sure if I would talk or walk again.
“Our parents, who are probably your average next-door neighbors, paid $10,000 to do estate planning, including a will, healthcare proxies, and other relevant documents,” she tells CircleAround. If a child of an elderly parent is responsible for figuring out estate planning, it can cost them a huge amount of money and stress, as well. In fact, the cost of protecting assets can end up being more than the assets themselves.
Fry’s venture-backed company provides resources for building a last will and testament, how to arrange a power of attorney and healthcare proxy, and even how to coordinate a pet power of attorney for those who may not be able to take care of their beloved furry friends. Features such as Family Vault enable families to store and access all these documents whenever they need.
“It is a very busy world we are living in,” Fry tells CircleAround, but adds that, “Hearing stories from our users about how Gentreo was there for them to help, whether it was making sure a pet got care or making sure an aging parent got care, is priceless.” To help users get to know the software and learn about estate planning, free educational tools are provided, as well as webinars. Gentreo even has a college COVID prep kit to help young adults understand the importance of healthcare proxies, powers of attorney, and more.
Fry understands that changes can come swiftly, but how you approach the situation can make all the difference. “When doing my undergraduate work at Penn State, a physical-education teacher I had for volleyball class pulled me aside and said, ‘You are a winner. Whatever team I put you on, you bring them all together to win. Don't ever lose that,’ ” Fry tells us.
“When times get tough, I remember, ‘I am a winner,’ with the help of my family and friends, I can do this. Now, I am the CEO and a founder of a venture-backed company that is helping people across the United States with issues I faced when I got sick, and issues that I am now facing as we care for my aging parents and my 9-year-old son.”
For her, Gentreo spans three generations. Fry knows the company she built is about “caring and trying your best to be that winner, when tough times happen, as they do when helping care for your parents, you, and your family across your lifetime."