Transforming bereavement through the power of platforms

Not accepting the status quo

There are certain processes that take a long time. They are inefficient, stressful and expensive, yet we seem to accept it because that’s ‘just how it is’. 

One area where we are often simply resigned to the fact that delays are inevitable is the process of administering someone’s estate.

The probate process – which can take anything from four or five weeks to literally years – is something most of us will do once or twice in our lives. On the whole, we go into it with a lack of knowledge and understanding of what is involved, and only realise how stressful, painful and expensive the whole thing is when we’re deep into it.  

Having been through it myself, and seen friends and families struggle, I believe that in the era of digital communication it can, and more importantly, should, be made efficient, simple and secure.

However, there are three major issues. One, there is a huge amount of admin involved. Two, there is a real lack of connection between the connected parties – legal firms, financial institutions, and consumers. And three, there are very few options when it comes to software and tech designed specifically for executry work, and certainly no ‘universal’ solution. 

Solving known problems 

In my mind, technological innovators sit in one of two groups – there are those pushing into brand new territory and focussing on finding use cases for what they have created, and then there are those looking to solve known problems on proven, modern technology architectures.

The second group is the one that interests me the most. There are so many things in our lives that don’t work as well as they should or could, and if we have the technology to make it better, that is what we need to do. By adapting, expanding and developing existing, proven technologies, there is huge potential to solve real issues and make people’s lives better.  

Death and money can both be quite ‘taboo’ subjects, which is possibly why probate and the processes that go along with it haven’t been tackled before. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t challenge the status quo and make things better.

That is what Exizent aims to do, by creating the first ever data aggregation platform to connect the network of people involved when someone passes away. Our mission is to reduce uncertainty, increase speed and make the process far simpler for everyone involved.

High level architecture

In 2020, after raising £3.6million in investment, we built up a highly skilled team focused on developing the first release of our dedicated legal services software – a bespoke cloud-based solution which will enable legal services firms to integrate directly with financial institutions. 

Our scalable, resilient, serverless platform, operates on AWS and has automated pipelines allowing teams to quickly release value.  APIs are fully documented, with API level user authentication to ensure a consistent experience across all clients, and documents are accessed via secure urls with a lifetime of five minutes to ensure a secure, stable and permanent platform.

Control is via an access control list which means we are able to restrict traffic flow for a better network performance and a high level of security. 

Now, in 2021, we are building on that strong foundation and accelerating our development work with financial institutions to deliver additional value for all sides of the platform. This includes a pilot with a building society to improve the process involved in notifying financial institutions when an account holder passes away.

Crying out for innovation

When you are creating a piece of technology to solve known problems, the response tends to be pretty positive. Legal professionals know that the current probate process is labour intensive; our research found that just 7% felt it was as efficient as it could be while only a third felt the time it takes to prepare grant of probate is ‘reasonable’. 

They are crying out for innovation, and have been promised it before, but nothing has really materialised.  As a result, both law firms and financial institutions are not only supportive of what we are doing but are willing to invest in it because they know the current system is not fit for purpose and technology is the way to change that.

About the Author

Nick Cousins is Founder and CEO at Exizent. Nick Cousins is a financial services veteran having worked for the last 20 years in various banks including Barclays where he was responsible for rebuilding its financial and investment advice proposition in the UK. When Nick left financial services, he was determined to build a great team to create a business that could have a meaningful impact on the lives of the UK population.

Featured image: ©Manuel Hurtado