March 4, 2020

THERESA JAVA/Free Press
Michael Anzalone demonstrates the phone compatible version of Family Legacy USA which enables people to leave voice messages, photos and letters to loved ones after passing.

THERESA JAVA/Free Press Michael Anzalone demonstrates the phone compatible version of Family Legacy USA which enables people to leave voice messages, photos and letters to loved ones after passing.

ISLAMORADA — The question that Family Legacy USA founder Michael Anzalone poses is thought-provoking: “If you died tomorrow, is there anything you’d want to say to your loved ones?”

The online platform Family Legacy allows subscribers to digitally store voice recordings and photos to be sent after their death to loved ones on predetermined dates, such as birthdays, anniversaries or other meaningful days.

This is a way to comfort family by sending a virtual hug, a loving thought or a story from beyond.

“You can tell your life story, where you were born, your parents, pictures of your life or where you live,” said Anzalone, an Islamorada homeowner. “Death is something people don’t want to think about, but it’s inevitable and it affects you. It affects everyone and this is a way to communicate with the loved ones left behind.”

The concept for Family Legacy came to Anzalone about five years ago after his father, Patrick, died.

“I’d call his phone just to listen to his recording when I just needed to hear his voice,” Anzalone said.

Hearing his father’s voice helped Anzalone through the grieving process by providing a way to remain connected to his late father.

Family Legacy, which was launched in November, utilizes digital technology and cloud-based storage to allow subscribers to leave their own messages.

“It’s the people who are left behind that suffer and the unique thing about Family Legacy is that it preserves for eternity the voices, thoughts and wisdom of those who have passed,” Anzalone said. “The thing that is neat about this, it’s something unexpected. I can select a date to send a recording in the future. There’s a surprise element.”

Anzalone noted that his father loved to tell jokes and how receiving a recorded one on a random day might brighten it.

“It would’ve been cool to get a joke from my father this way,” he said.

Voice recordings and photos can be uploaded and scheduled in the future. Voice recordings may narrate through a sequence of photos. Written messages may also be scheduled. After one’s passing, a previously appointed “caretaker” will receive an email from Family Legacy to send the scheduled messages to other family email accounts.

“You will get an email notification that you have a message. When you’re ready, that’s when you go home and grab a box of tissues,” Anzalone said. From a phone, tablet or computer the loved ones may listen and look at photos for as long as they want.

All information is kept secure and private, according to Anzalone.

Family Legacy has about 7,000 paid subscribers so far and Anzalone has expanded his company to include a free membership program for first responders through firstresponderslegacy.org.

First responders may leave about 25 messages or 25 pictures at no cost, with minimal charges for additional storage.

“It may give some peace of mind in case they make the ultimate sacrifice,” Anzalone said.

Endorsed by U.S. First Responders Association and with 22,000 members so far, First Responders Legacy has gained rapid popularity.

Family Legacy USA and First Responders Legacy are branded under Our Family Legacy. For more information, visit familylegacyusa.org or firstresponderslegacy.org.

tjava@keysnews.com