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Life Ledger – simplifying death notification to organisations free of charge

Service Review

When you’re grieving for the loss of a parent, settling their affairs can be slow, arduous and painful.

It’s surprising how many organisations have to be notified – from banks and pension funds to mobile phone contract providers and utilities.

Not only do you have to find the details of each account, but there’s no consistent way of communicating with the organisations.

Thankfully, we’ve already seen a really helpful service arrive in the shape of Tell Us Once, which lets you report a death to most government organisations in one go.

Now a UK organisation has launched a scheme that aims to provide the same sort of service to let you notify a death once, free of charge, to a growing number of financial and service providers.

We’ve taken a look at the Life Ledger service to see how helpful it could be.

Why do we need something new?

Notifying a death has been a slow and complex challenge at a time when we would prefer just to grieve and support others. There’s little consistency in who we have to contact within an organisation, how we contact them, and what information and documentation they will require when we do make contact.

It’s not an easy process for the organisations concerned either. They need procedures in place to administer the switching or closing of accounts, as well as people who are trained to work sympathetically with the bereaved relatives. Neither of those always work well at present.

Personal experience has led the founders of Life Ledger to create a single platform where just one notification can be delivered to multiple organisations for a smoother, simpler way to get through the paperwork.

How does it work?

The first thing to do is sign up for an account. You fill in a few of your own details, as well as details of the deceased. Then you upload the death certificate, proving that the death has occurred. Many organisations require a copy of the certificate, and uploading once and sharing has potential to save time and the cost of an ever-increasing number of paper copies.

If there’s a surviving partner, you’re probably just looking at switching accounts from one name to another, and this can be done here. It’s also the place to start when you need to close accounts completely.

You may not want to be the sole person responsible for winding up accounts, and you have the option to give details of anyone you would like to help – such as a family member, executor or solicitor.

Once the details are in and the people verified, you can start to use the online forms to list the names of the companies you want to notify, along with the relevant account and policy details.

When you’re ready, hit send and the service will automatically send off notifications to all the organisations you’ve listed that are participating in the scheme.

The idea is that they will then communicate with you via the Life Ledger dashboard, letting you know that they’ve received the notification, providing a reference number and uploading relevant documents.

Which organisations have signed up to the service?

Currently Life Ledger has 650 companies signed up to the service, and is rapidly becoming a recommended service for a number of utilities.

Organisations taking part include banks and building societies, credit card companies, insurance, mobile and broadband providers, cable and satellite TV, pensions, utilities, health insurance, pet insurance, travel insurance, online shopping services, loyalty cards, streaming services, and social media.

Is it expensive?

It’s free to register a single death. Two or more deaths are chargeable, but this is an aspect of the service aimed more at professionals such as solicitors and probate specialists.

Is it easy to use?

We’ve taken a look at the first steps of the service, and it’s pretty self-explanatory. It’s mostly a matter of familiarising yourself with which button to use at each stage.

We tried out the customer support chat service too, and while there was no one online to help us immediately, we did get an email response within the hour. The chat service is available during office hours.

How is our information protected?

Sharing all your relative’s information to everyone on the list isn’t always appropriate. Life Ledger recognises this. The service packages up all the available information ready to notify companies, but only sends out the basic information required. So, for example, an asset manager may get a copy of the will, but Netflix won’t.

Data security is also a recognised issue and Life Ledger say they have taken a number of steps to protect data from attack. Databases are encrypted to military standards and regularly testing for hacking. The service is also currently seeking ISO27001 certification. And it’s emphasised that the service will never ask for passwords, as they’re not needed.

How do I stop other people from taking control?

Anyone who’s named as the Life Ledger account manager or a supporter has to go through identity checks, using their passport or photo driving licence in the first place. Life Ledger is also working on using credit reference agencies as an alternative way to check ID. In addition it will use an ‘open banking’ approach from summer 2021, pulling just enough information into the dashboard to deliver the service without much of the detail.

Can I set up an account and store data for a living person?

You might find it useful to upload account details and store them in advance. Life Ledger also offers this as a service, called Register a Life. There is a charge for this, but it’s currently just £12 a year. It can be converted to a Register a Death account in the future.

Author Kathy Lawrence is editor at When They Get Older

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Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

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