Dec 01, 2023
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Empathy is a uniquely human quality. And while software will never be able to fully replicate empathetic actions like a loved one, we can certainly apply technology in ways that support a compassionate user experience — especially in times of crisis.
ClearEstate, a first-of-its-kind estate planning and settlement service, was built with the user’s peace of mind at its core: simple, convenient, and driven by empathy. Sadly, being an estate executor is a needlessly complicated and bureaucratic process, where red tape makes an already difficult experience even more stressful than necessary.
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Pascal Brisset, Chief Technology Officer and ClearEstate co-founder, has been building toward this challenge for many years, as the Silicon Valley veteran has outlined with ClearEstate his vision for a high-empathy online financial management platform, drawing on his multilingual coding skills and passion for user experience.
“When you actually break it down, and you remove the software engineering element of it, it's just empathy,” he explained. “How would you deal with a person, face-to-face, who’s grieving? It's human to be compassionate, and I see ClearEstate the same way. Every step in the process must make ‘human’ sense. You don't have to be a UI or UX guru to be tactful.”
Writing humane code, Pascal explained, requires mastering hard skills, but also knowing what not to do.
He is spending much of his development time identifying patterns and inefficiencies with the goal of building a platform that isn’t unnecessarily complicated, at least not to the user, but with a robust infrastructure that can scale globally, and fast.
“That is our top priority. We have to make sure that the design language stays extremely consistent. We want things to be simple, no friction.”
That strong infrastructure is bound by coding, and some engineers prefer some tools over others. Pascal is adamant that ClearEstate tech be built from the ground up; not anchored to any one set of code so much as a broader set of tools to deliver the most precise, effortless experience.
“I love all languages,” he began. “Some languages are a hammer, others are a screwdriver: sure, you can hammer a nail with a screwdriver, but it's not as efficient. In the developer community, people are very religious about their languages. I’ve always been a believer that the most important thing is to embrace the right tool for the job. That means asking yourself: ‘how do I best solve this problem, and what is the right infrastructure to get us there?’”
The ClearEstate team firmly believes in the power of intuitive design. With the growth of online banking, cryptocurrency and an increasing number of our assets going digital, ensuring security is a task of monumental importance. One of the keys to security, explains Pascal, is compatibility.
This includes the seamless integration of an estate’s assets via major financial institutions within the ClearEstate platform, a design-forward presentation of data and assets, and unparalleled transparency that keeps beneficiaries informed throughout the process.
And thanks to the power of Blockchain technology, assets are more traceable and more easily transferable than ever before. ClearEstate uses bank-level encryption technology and two-factor authentication to ensure sensitive data is as secure as possible — certainly more secure and less prone to fraud than analogue systems still commonly used today.
To understand the significance of the innovation that ClearEstate represents, one must first look at the estate settlement process and how, from a product standpoint, it is not only inefficient but a downright cruel experience.
“We made sure to capture what the journey looks like from A to Z. The reality of estate executorship is that everybody only goes through this once, maybe twice in a lifetime. So it's not like you get to practice.”
That user-centric programming is critical at a time when most executors should be grieving, and not negotiating the hoops and hurdles of an uncaring system. There can be thousands of paths toward estate settlement, and ClearEstate’s interface is designed to help you get there as quickly and painlessly as possible.
“We’ve created an Executor Checklist, detailing each step you have to take, and the platform's responsibility is to figure out and optimize what that path is going to look like, given your particular circumstances. No two estates are the same, so we start with just a few simple questions. We chat, and slowly gather the minimum amount of information to forecast what the next 12 months will look like,” Pascal explained.
Part of the process is taking bits and pieces of information to create a hierarchy of beneficiaries and executors who get to see how the inheritance is structured. Everything is visual and transparent with an eye toward stemming potential conflict.
Many products, and an increasing number of apps, can help reduce a person's anxiety during difficult times. A platform that can do this while pushing governments and institutions across North America to themselves systematize more empathetic processes is more than a new convenience, but a serious agent of change.
“ClearEstate is the knight in shining armour; there's a lot of loyalty that gets created very fast. And if I can do something to help people, it matters a lot to me. That's the reason why I wanted to create this.”
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