Death and Taxes: Chanel Reynolds' End-of-Life Planning Website

Chanel Reynolds helps take the terror out of end-of-life planning.

It sounds like a classic object lesson: a successful freelance project manager who planned for others’ every contingency, but didn’t cover her own bases. That’s exactly the situation Chanel Reynolds found herself in when her husband died in a bike accident and she faced the biggest project she’d ever manage: getting her financial life in order while deep in grief. Reynolds realized that, like many of us, she’d spent almost no time thinking about worst-case scenarios—and didn’t even know the passwords to many of the couple’s accounts. Three and a half years later, when the 42-year-old Capitol Hill mom was ready to share her story and offer support to others, GetYourSh** (you can fill in the blanks by clicking on the link) was born. Full of end-of-life planning advice, the nonprofit website combines practical information (free downloadable documents, including wills and a checklist of things best taken care of in advance, from an emergency savings plan to life insurance) with Reynolds’ funny, straight-talking, approachable personality. Launched in January, the site quickly went viral, and though Reynolds intended it as a side project, it has become a full-time effort. “More people know if they’re gluten intolerant than know what their mortgage percentage rate is,” she notes. “As undesirable as it may be, taking care of this now saves you a gazillion times more pain and suffering in the future.”

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