We need to talk about estate planning.

PortfolioFeb 23, 2022

Written by Shawn Chance, Partner, OMERS Ventures

Uncomfortable as it might be for some, I’m going to talk about death.

If there is one universal truth, it is that no one lives forever. Macabre as it sounds, the prospect of losing (or leaving) those we love is made worse by the heavy transactional estate-related process that follows any death. Perhaps surprisingly, the ‘paperwork’ associated with the average estate amounts to around 400 hours spread over 18 months. And the cost is an average of $10,000. If you speak to anyone who has been through this process, they will unequivocally tell you that it’s painful, opaque and that they felt powerless during what was already a challenging time for them. The impact on one’s “day job” is also profound, with many executors taking time off work to not only grieve the loss, but also to make time for the all-consuming task of acting as estate executor.

This is part of the reason we are proud to back ClearEstate in its $13.25M Series A fundraise. ClearEstate has created a solution dedicated to radically streamlining estate administration through technology and a human touch, born out of one man’s experience as an executor — and a desire to ensure his experience was no longer the norm.

Executorship even for most basic estate will require hours on the phone with lawyers, accountants, employers, banks and estranged family members (to name only a few). To give you some perspective, I recently learned of one woman who had to fill out a 153-page form in order to claim $20K from her late husband’s employer. All at a time when paperwork should be the last thing on someone’s mind.

But it doesn’t need to be like this. As a society, we have come to accept this broken process as a type of “executor burden” and have, until recently, been powerless to do anything about it. As the venture arm of a pension plan, this issue is near and dear to our hearts, and we believe passionately that technology has a role in transforming the process to make it simpler, quicker and less expensive for all involved. Many believe that legislation which makes the settlement process un-necessarily complex and analogue is in need of reform.

Our banking, food ordering, shopping and even medical needs are now all being addressed through digital solutions. And the pandemic has accelerated a level of trust in digitized services. Not to mention the fact that the digital-native generation has high expectations from service providers when it comes to technology enablement. If ever there was a time to digitize estate planning and settlement — for the masses — that time is now.

In backing ClearEstate, we’ve invested in a business that we believe has the potential to change the world. When this team speaks to people in their moments of greatest need, but also greatest vulnerability, they make a difference for the better.

Founding team Davide, Alex and Pascal have an incredible combination of personal passion for the topic (it was the passing of Alex’s parents that drove him to begin his research into making the executorship process less onerous), an obsession with product design and customer experience, and deep understanding of what it takes to build a large, scalable business. From our very first conversation we knew this was a team we were interested in backing, in a market we know is under-served and resonates with our own mission.

Over the next 25 years, executors will manage the largest wealth transfer in human history. That’s not talking about the wealthy elite with estates worth millions — I am referring to the 90% of people with estate values far less than $1M.

We need to change the narrative around estate planning and we are confident ClearEstate and its team are the ones to do it.