Traditionally, death is a sector that has been firmly rooted in the older way of doing things. At Life Ledger, we understand how that approach can cause frustration amongst the bereaved. But, thankfully, we’re beginning to notice a shift in the sector.
The death sector has always been keen to maintain its traditions. For many, its time-honoured procedures were a hallmark of the sector’s gravitas and the respect paid to it.
However, for many organisations working in the sector, 2020 has ushered in a fresh perspective, and a desire for change. Although the sector has been reluctant to let go of its traditions, the industry’s key players are recognising the huge benefits that a digital approach can bring, both internally and for its customers.
In the past two years alone, we’ve seen an extensive transformation of the administrative processes around death. More and more businesses are choosing to streamline their services, using digital systems to offer a more intuitive service to the bereaved.
As has been the case in many sectors, the pandemic has been a catalyst for change.
By its nature, forcing the entire country to ‘stay home’ compelled many sectors to rapidly rethink their long-standing processes. Due to sheer necessity, procedures that had held firm for decades, centuries even, had to adopt new approaches to keep them viable in a pandemic world.
And, of course, one of the core requirements for this was embracing digital technologies.
The pandemic has accelerated a move away from contact driven services to a highly efficient, remote approach.
However there were signs that change was already on its way before the pandemic hit.
The Private Member’s Bill, produced by Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell, entitled the Registers of Births and Deaths Bill 2019-20 passed its first reading in February 2020.
The bill is seeking to allow the electronic registration of births and deaths, rendering a visit to Register Offices unnecessary. Currently in the Committee Stage, if successful, the bill will introduce digital certifications for both deaths and births.
Interestingly, the Government’s response to COVID-19 saw them enact emergency legislation, which essentially fast-tracked these digital alternatives as a temporary measure. During the pandemic’s period of lockdown, the government’s legislation enabled “documents that currently have to be physically presented in connection with death registration to be transmitted electronically or by other means”.
As such, this need for digitisation has paved the way for a more permanent digital solution to death management. Now that they have been implemented and proven to work, these changes are far more likely to hold.
What changes can we expect to see?
Until very recently, the issue of Crown Copyright has been a major obstacle to the widespread adoption of photographing or scanning certificates, then distributing them electronically.
The legislation prohibits copies of death certificates from either being used as proof of death, or from being certified by solicitors, meaning only official certified copies that are issued from register offices can be used as proof of death.
Now proposed new legislation seeks to change the way registrations take place and introduce digital death certificates to be used in the same way as our traditional paper version. With this the registration process would become more streamlined, connected and efficient.
Another area of the death sector, and one that we know well, that is witnessing a digital revival is death notifications.
In the majority of cases, death notifications prove to be the most time-consuming part of the death management process.
Death notifications require a representative of the deceased (often a close family member) to contact all of the individual companies the deceased was connected to. This typically, includes organisations like banks, pension and utility providers, insurance companies, telephone and subscription providers, streaming services, membership organisations and many more.
This is a fragmented and disparate process, in which every company has its own unique process and procedure. There is little, if any, common ground around the details and information required by each company.
To combat this issue the Department of Work & Pensions’ Tell Us Once service was launched, almost 10 years ago. It is a solution that supports public sector notifications, such as passport, driving licence, benefits, HMRC and National Insurance, and has been rolled out across the UK.
In Autumn 2020, Life Ledger launched our own solution to the UK death notification process, focused on the commercial sector.
Life Ledger works with companies across the UK, spanning every sector creating a uniform, easy-to-follow death notification process. The bereaved, only have to enter the deceased details once. Then, submit this information to all of the companies connected to the deceased, through a few quick clicks, via a single centralised platform.
The digitisation of death will continue to accelerate into the coming years. Across the sector and beyond, organisations are adopting bold new digital strategies, to provide faster more effective support for the bereaved. They recognise the importance of change, and are committed to replacing outdated and fractured traditions with connected digital solutions.