8th JULY, 2020: Farewill, the UK’s best-rated death experts and winner of the 2019 National Will Writing Firm of the Year, is today announcing it has raised £20 million. The round was led by Highland Europe, alongside Keen Venture Partners, Rich Pierson of Headspace, Broadhaven Ventures, and Venture Founders, with participation from previous investors - among them Augmentum Fintech, Taavet Hinrikus (TransferWise) and Kindred Capital.
Founded in 2015, Farewill is transforming the outdated death industry and its expensive, complex processes - many of which haven’t changed for more than 150 years - using technology and design.
Inspired by experiences at the Royal College of Art, CEO Dan Garrett set out to make death - a topic that’s long been taboo - easier for people to tackle. Alongside Co-founder Tom Rogers, previously of Boomf, the pair have overhauled the way people write a will, deal with probate and arrange a funeral.
Rather than using technology for technology’s sake, their team thinks of customers first. The platform simplifies complex processes, avoids legal jargon, and does away with hidden fees - removing unnecessary friction at a time when people feel at their most vulnerable. Users are guided through a series of questions, all navigated online at their convenience, and a team of in-house specialists are available seven days a week when customers need to speak directly. The cost and time benefits are clear:
- With Farewill it takes just 15 minutes to write a will, an average of 24 hours to get the document checked, and it costs from £90 (that’s half the average UK price and a fraction of the time compared with a traditional solicitor.)
- On the probate side, instead of hitting people with spiralling costs - which can be as much as 5% of an estate’s value, plus £800+ to get the grant of probate - Farewill charges a single, fixed fee starting at £595. An application takes seven days to prepare, compared to the UK average of three weeks.
- Farewill direct cremations start from £980, whereas the average UK cremation costs £3,250. When combined with other fees, the total cost of dying typically soars above £10,000 in the UK, forcing 1 in 8 families into funeral poverty.
As a result of these benefits, Farewill is now the highest-rated death expert in the UK with a five-star, Excellent TrustPilot rating of 4.9, taken from more than 6,000 reviews. (Please see the notes section for examples of customer testimonials.)
The organisation is the largest will writer in the UK, responsible for 1 in 10 wills, and became National Will Writer of the Year at the 2019 British Wills and Probate Awards. After launching its direct cremation service last year, it helped more families within two months than the average funeral home serves in a year, becoming the UK’s fastest-growing funeral provider. More recently it won ‘best social innovation’ at the 2020 Europas, joining the ranks of previous award winners including Spotify, Babylon Health, TransferWise and Soundcloud.
The existing issues around the cost and complex, outdated processes surrounding death have been thrown into sharp relief in the wake of COVID-19. Farewill data shows 94% of people who have lost a loved one to coronavirus found administrative tasks negatively affected during recent times. 40% found it difficult to register the event due to lockdown restrictions, and 39% said that dealing with pensions, tax and probate was almost impossible. Almost a third (27%) reported that the companies they needed to speak to were closed, and 24% were told services were ‘on hold’.
Dan said, “Dealing with death is one of the hardest parts of life, and we started Farewill to take some of the pain out of the process. The latest investment from Highland Europe shows their conviction in our vision for fairer, more transparent services in this space. It means we can build on what we’ve started, growing our world-class team and designing easy-to-use tools that help people during incredibly tough times. We’ll also carry on raising millions in pledged legacy income for the third sector, and we’re aiming to get to £1 billion by 2023. There’s a real need for change in this industry and we’re really proud to be leading it.”
Tracy Doree, Chair of the Board at Farewill, added “This latest achievement is testament to the calibre of the team, the culture they’re building, and the approach they’re taking. In an industry that’s still relatively untouched by technology, the opportunity to drive meaningful change and fix problems remains vast. It’s exciting to see the first consumer brand in this space take off. ”
The investment will be used to fund expansion in the UK, as well as ongoing service improvement and product innovation. It takes the total raised so far to £30m.
For generations, the way people deal with death has been the same. The funeral industry hasn’t changed in over 150 years but people's wishes and needs have evolved. The current process is cold, complex and incredibly stressful, and usually involves an expensive trip to a local solicitor and funeral home. In fact, the average cost of dying is the highest it’s ever been in the UK (almost £10k in 2020) forcing 1 in 8 families into funeral poverty.
Farewill was created to address this, and to make death easier for everyone. By blending smart technology with outstanding customer service, the team is making everything about the experience simpler, cheaper, faster and fairer for people all over the UK - from wills, to funerals, to estate admin.
Since its launch in 2015, Farewill has become the UK’s largest will writer and its fastest-growing funeral provider. It has been voted the UK’s best-rated death experts on Trustpilot (rated 4.9/5 by over 6,000 people), and won National Will Writing Firm of the Year 2019 at the British Wills and Probate awards. It has also featured in The Guardian, The Times, Forbes, the FT, the Telegraph and on the BBC, among others.
4 customer reviews - from Trustpilot
What a wonderful service. I think the whole funeral business is in desperate need of innovation and modernisation like this. Farewill's website is fantastic and very, very user friendly. Don't even think twice about using them.
Do not hesitate to use this company for your probate application. They make it all so easy for you and they are efficient, friendly and effective throughout the process. They keep you informed and up to date with everything. It all went very smoothly for me and all for a very reasonable price. They took all the stress of this from me and I am very grateful to everyone involved.
Big Funerals directors! Never again!
Please don't feel you need to spend vast amounts on a funeral. Can't wait to meet up with family and say goodbye together in our way. The way mum wanted. Fantastic value, fantastic staff, fantastic company that's with you every step of the way.
Uncomplicated and painless.
Previously, I tried setting up a will through a free service offered by the works union, but it was a complicated mess. My experience with Farewill however was the complete opposite. The whole process takes a matter of minutes - and this is helped, by the clear instructions and wording, which is free from uncomplicated legal jargon. Once everything is set up all you need to do is download the pdf file and print your copy (or copies - I printed two and had them signed, so that one could be kept off the property); then sign with your chosen witnesses, etc. I found the whole experience painless, and would wholeheartedly recommend Farewill.