This week on WHITEBALLOON INSIGHTS we hear from Tremayne Carew Pole, Co-founder of Life Ledger – a free, easy-to-use death notification service.
Q: What first inspired you to set up Life Ledger?
Life Ledger wasn’t my idea, a great friend and original founder, Ruth, lost her mother about five years ago, she both witnessed her father’s struggles to cope with the mountain of admin that faced him as well as her own difficulties. Ruth and I then took the business from concept to reality.
Q: Life Ledger helps to simplify some of the administrative tasks that almost everyone has to deal with following a bereavement. Can you tell us a bit about how Life Ledger works?
The current process (outside of Life Ledger) is for the bereaved family to discover what accounts the deceased had, then research how to notify them, what documents and information is required, and then spend hours filling in the same forms, or repeating the same conversation over and over again.
With Life Ledger you only have to enter data once. The family member comes in and sets up an account and we do an ID check of them to make sure we know who is sending notifications, and then they add the details of the deceased and upload a copy of the death certificate.
Then, is there a surviving partner that needs household accounts or policies switched into her name for continuity of coverage or service? Is there a will, and if so do they know who the executors are, if there isn’t who are the administrators, and is there a solicitor involved?
Then they simply add a company and an account number, and what they would like to do with the account and press send. The notification wings its way to the company, who close or switch the account and then the family receive a notification through Life Ledger that the appropriate action has been taken.
Best of all the service is free – we make our money by charging the companies we notify by reducing their customer support costs.
Q: Has working in the bereavement sector changed your outlook on death and dying?
I have been completely inspired by the people I have met within the bereavement sector, from those involved in the funeral sector who are both traditional and quirky, to those who support families through the grief they are dealing with and those preparing families for loss in the hospice sector.
I used to think that death was difficult to talk about, and while I’ve never been afraid of death or dying, the conversation was always awkward. Now I see it as something inherently natural, and not to be glossed over in a terribly British way. We need to open up the conversation about it and make it part of our everyday lives.
Q: Technology has transformed how we deal with many things in life, and death. How important is it to you to harness this as Life Ledger evolves and grows?
Technology is an enabler; it helps us help others. If we can take away so much of the legwork involved in dealing with a death through smart technology, whether that’s being able to bring a living person’s accounts and details into one place before death, to a one-click approach to winding up accounts, then it has an impact. We are never going to use technology for technology’s sake – we want it to have purpose.
Q: What were your biggest challenges when you were creating and launching Life Ledger and what lessons have you learnt?
The biggest challenge has been the building of relationships with the companies we notify – at the moment we tell over 900 companies in the UK of a death, and each of them needs to be aware of what we do, to accept the information we send them and then to action and process the notification that has been sent. These aren’t small companies, these range from national banks to international social media and streaming services – it has given us a mountain to climb.
What have I learned? I think patience – we had grand plans of taking this global very quickly, but have realised that so much time is required to build relationships and trust in what we are doing. While our service to families has a degree of immediacy the foundations that underpin what we do have taken a long time to develop.
Q: Life Ledger is going from strength to strength. What is your vision for the future?
We want to be able to help every family in the UK through their bereavement journey – to simplify what is one of the most difficult times in our lives and something we all eventually have to go through. Then, when we have helped the UK, the world is our oyster…
Q: Finally, is there a particular person or book that has inspired you along the way?
I recently read “All the Living and the Dead” by Hayley Campbell, which I loved and found incredibly inspiring. I also loved Rachel Clarke’s “Dear Life” and Kathryn Mannix’s “With the End in Mind” books about palliative care and dying, they made me laugh, cry and understand dying from the point of view of those dying.
Thank you Tremayne for sharing these insights
If you would like to find out more, visit the Life Ledger website.