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Published on: Aug. 23, 2022, 1:33 p.m.
How easy is to get your ‘Dead money’
  • Sheth and Bose apprising Sitharaman about the progress made in the sphere of inheritance and succession planning

By Lancelot Joseph. Executive Editor, Business India

Do you know there is an estimated Rs1,25,000 crore lying in unclaimed bank accounts, life insurance, mutual funds and provident funds? “This is what we call ‘dead money’ which is money belonging to people who have died. The primary reason why money lies unclaimed is: lack of knowledge among family members – the money was invested but nobody in the family was aware of this and therefore nobody came forward to make a claim. The claim process is fraught with very expensive and cumbersome legal and bureaucratic process and documentation,” says Sejal Sheth as the co-founder and CEO, and Soubir Bose as the co-founder and CTO of EasyInherit, that assures wealth protection for the next generation by providing accurate advice and value-added services.

The EasyInherit founders met the Finance Minister of India to apprise her of the progress which can be made in the sphere of Inheritance and Succession Planning as a part of Digital India Mission. The finance ministry has been exhorting all these institutions to ensure implementation of the ease of living mission of the government and EasyInherit presented a paper on how inheritance can and should go digital and what changes will need to be effected for the same. 

“Imagine a widow having to claim Rs65,000 lying in the bank where she was not a nominee. She would be required to produce paperwork for which a tout or agent will quote Rs30,000. She does not have the liquidity to invest to recover the claim,” says Sheth.

To claim what is duly yours is not always an easy process. This very issue gave birth to EasyInherit, a platform that facilitates the various aspects of inheritance management – documentation, probates, succession, claims, and transfers. All in all, EasyInherit is a hassle-free, secure platform that thrives on the advances in technology and media today. It is an AI-based engine that ensures you get the most bias-free approach to your inheritance challenges.

Sheth co-founded EasyInherit in early 2020, after she experienced a gamut of inheritance challenges first-hand, being unable to successfully claim her father’s inheritance 3 years post his demise. Before this, in 2019, she consulted a mental health application that has been rated by Google as the number one app, currently called Wysa. In mid-2018, she joined the data science company Mu Sigma. There she handled the largest client unit, Walmart, across their US, China, and ecom operations. Earlier she undertook ‘Artificial Intelligence – Implications for Business Strategy,’ from MIT Sloan.

 Transparent method

EasyInherit aims to make estate planning and succession claims less complicated and more effective. The platform guarantees a highly transparent method of functioning. With the philosophy of democratising inheritance planning using a digital platform, EasyInherit provides multiple services to its clients. Beginning with EasyClaims One step, it is a stress-free solution to all the unnecessary hassle involved in submitting claims post a bereavement. This service helps in simplifying the paperwork; it initiates legal documentation and creates submission-ready claim dockets.

To avoid conflict, being well-informed and aware is an important step in handling legal battles. Understanding one’s will, trust, the power of attorney, and the letter of succession is necessary while dealing with the process of inheritance. To achieve the same, EasyLegal is a one-stop-shop to get counsel from their specialist team of estate and inheritance lawyers in strict confidence.

“With the focus on having a single view of all your assets, it is imperative to plan for everything that matters. EasyPortfolio is a way to organise what is vital once and for all, such as your wills, life insurance plans, financial data, pet information, digital accounts, and so much more. The physical, financial, and digital assets including bank accounts and fixed deposits, land, property, and vehicles as well as your social media/email accounts – all are organised by EasyPortfolio,” observes Bose, a chartered accountant, when a misadventure into things too technical by his family-owned audio post-production studio, made him a reluctant entrant into a very nascent IT industry in 1992. He started working on software product engineering with what may have been India’s first product start-up in Calcutta.

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    The claim process is fraught with very expensive and cumbersome legal and bureaucratic process and documentation

    Sejal Sheth, Co-founder and CEO, EasyInherit

Inheritance related solutions are often considered a part of estate planning in the West. According to TechCrunch, the estate planning market in the US is valued at $180 billion in 2022. Investments in estate planning tech start-ups exceed $200 million. This includes companies such as Everplans, Wealth, Lantern, Cake, Trust and Will, FareWill, etc. Worldwide solutions in this space are termed ‘DeathTech’. While there are no official estimates, the estate planning industry would be worth about $5 billion in India.

In India, the traditional players in the space of inheritance are the lawyers. One reaches out to them when one wants a will or trust or any other legal documentation such as probate or succession certificate. Then there are family offices, which are wealth management advisory firms that serve ultra-high net worth investors and provide a complete financial advice and solutions such as legal, insurance, investment, estate, business, tax, lifestyle and even philanthropy related advice to clients. Increasingly, wealth managers or chartered financial planners (CFP) are also trying to bundle estate planning offerings to their customers as a rich value add for their wealth lifecycle.

“The traditional competitor here is the little black book kept in the family safe. In today’s day and age many believe Google Docs to be the answer. But we offer a completely secure and confidential way of organising the relevant data on the cloud along with the option of keeping the same in your own Digilocker (GoI provided cloud data storage available to all citizens),” adds Seth who in 2021 launched Digilocker to store inheritance and succession planning-related information safely and perpetually on Digilocker. Every user of EasyInherit can upload their EasyPortfolio on to Digilocker at the click of a button.  This information can thereafter be shared with any nominee of the user directly from Digilocker using its built-in consent framework. “Additionally, the unique partnership allows EasyInherit to implement a consent-based access to a user’s financial and other asset data to auto-populate the EasyPortfolio. This prevents leakage of information – one of the key reasons why the next of kin usually fails to locate critical data.” 

Handholding the process

For claims, the local agent or tout is the closest that there is no competition in this space. There are a few firms offering you services which will help doing all the run-around for a hefty fee. And there are a few more who deal in specific niche areas such as physical to demat transfer of shares. “This is where we are unique in terms of combining the digital ecosystem and helping ease the user process, journey and flow during the transmission/claims process across all asset groups”.

“I heard about EasyInherit through common acquaintances. And I wanted the services of a new age firm that would use the power of technology to help my parent draft and register a will in Mumbai. The team arranged for appropriate legal consults, set up appointments with the registrar and handheld the process to its completion. All this in the middle of a raging Covid pandemic. EasyInherit made the entire process a smooth sail,” says Milind Agarwal, a businessman.

  • EasyInherit aims to make estate planning and succession claims less complicated and more effective. The platform guarantees a highly transparent method of functioning

“India makes a difficult case for inheritance planning if you have special needs children,” says Dr Amit Biswas. As a parent of a special needs child, he along with a few others 

have set up an organisation that caters to the life needs of such children beyond the lifetime of their parents. “However, each parent needed something special for their child and legal advice was difficult, at times insensitive and mostly expensive. EasyInherit handled our cases with the sensitivity it needed and in a transparent way. It helped each parent create custom trust deeds per their need and yet stay within the common objectives of the broader organisation,” adds Biswas.

“Losing a set of parents in quick succession is traumatic enough. But when a global pandemic prevents you from travelling and being with family in such circumstances, it makes matters worse,” says Rahul Singh who along with his brother lives in the US while their sister lived in India. Their parents owned properties and assets in different parts of India and did not leave behind clear succession instructions. “EasyInherit understood the situation and simplified the process into achievable blocks. They coordinated between the family members across time zones and facilitated conversation with government agencies. Using technology and its network of professionals, the company settled their estate within six months with no need of any travel,” adds Rahul.

“I needed to travel abroad for life critical treatment and wanted to ensure my estate was well settled in any contingency,” discloses Devika Bahudhanam, who reached out to EI with the shortest possible timeline and the highest criticality. “Their legal team immediately understood the situation and decided to work out a few options that could be quickly executed. Working overtime, the legal team handled the case with sensitivity while staying aware that time was critical.”

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