Today’s Wills and Probate caught up with founder of Life Ledger, a digital solution to death notifications, Tremayne Carew Pole, to talk about a simplistic death notification service and how it will benefit professionals and the public.
How did Life Ledger come about? What made you set it up?
Life Ledger emerged out of the death of a great friend’s mother. It took her the best part of a year to close down all the accounts that her mother had, and even then, she simply ended up ignoring some accounts as she couldn’t bear the torturously sclerotic admin any longer. We sat down and thought about the processes that currently surround death and how we can consolidate and simplify them. The result is Life Ledger.
What did you do prior to setting up Life Ledger?
Prior to Life Ledger I had worked in publishing and digital content. I set up a series of travel guides back in the early 2000s, which then pivoted to become a digital content agency about 10 years ago. I’ve been very lucky to have been able to look under the bonnet of some great brands ranging from Avis and Aston Martin to Virgin Atlantic and Zipcar.
How does it work?
Life Ledger is about simplicity. We have created a platform that is aimed at a digital immigrant audience (a techie way of saying the over-40s) that is clearly signposted and easy to use. We also understand how the users must be feeling when they have to go through this process – exhausted, confused and vulnerable, so we never ask for the same information twice. When a user signs up to our ‘Register a Death’ product the notifier registers themselves, the deceased, if any accounts need to be switched to a surviving partner, and they then simply select the company they wish to notify and the add in the account details and press send.
We also have a ‘Register a Life’ product which is the perfect add-on for those conscious of their own mortality and is a great adjunct to the will writing process. Here we store all of the user’s account information to make the post-death notification process more streamlined.
How does your service benefit Wills and probate professionals?
We have just launched a subscription platform for solicitors and probate professionals. This has additional functionality that allows the professionals to open a direct communication channel with the companies they are notifying, upload letters of instruction/engagement and information requests. This should cut the time it takes to send the notifications as well as reducing the time it takes to retrieve the requisite information from the companies.
What are your top obstacles, challenges in navigating the sensitivities around bereavement?
The events of 2020 have seen the conversation around bereavement open up. In the early part of the year based on the fears of what might happen in the pandemic, but latterly to do with digitising and streamlining processes that remote working and social distancing engendered. That being said, it is extremely important for us to be hugely sensitive to the loss that our users have experienced, they are coming to us at a really difficult time in their lives and we have to ensure that what we do works, otherwise there is a real risk that we are just putting up another bureaucratic hurdle for them to overcome.
Explain Life Ledger’s objectives in three sentences
I can explain it in three words: making death easier.
You told us you set up the business during lockdown, what have you learned about launching a small business during the UK lockdown? What advice would you give to others?
The most difficult thing about launching in lockdown has been trying to keep a small team engaged remotely. However, lockdown has also been a boon. Remote working has meant that the people we need to reach tend to be more available, they are not rushing between meetings, events and conferences and have the time to sit down and listen to us, especially at a time when vulnerability and bereavement is high on everybody’s agenda. I’ve also learned the power of a carefully crafted email.
What does success look like for Life Ledger?
We are a commercial business with real social purpose. Success comes in two parts. The first is to know that we are making a real difference to people at a key life moment and easing what is undoubtedly one of the most difficult times in their lives. The second is clearly commercial and it is building a network of partnerships not only with the companies that we are notifying but the companies that form the end of life and post death sector from estate planning to estate administration.