Originally published by TechCrunch on February 23, 2023
Drafting a will and planning for what happens to your estate once you pass away is well, not exactly fun. Both tasks can also be very pricey endeavors, not to mention just painful to do for many reasons.
And so it’s no surprise that many people put off the tasks, perhaps living in denial they are not immortal.
In fact, one 2022 survey found that about two-thirds of Americans have no estate plan. That’s not good because then the loved ones you leave behind are stuck with having to figure it all out, and in some cases, have to fight for assets you would have probably left for them had you taken the time to draft a will. Interestingly, that same survey — conducted by Caring.com — found that 50% more young adults (aged 18 to 34) had estate planning documents than before the pandemic.
One startup out to help take the pain, and expense, out of the estate planning process by digitizing it is seeing demand for its services grow. And now that startup, Trust & Will, has raised an additional $15 million in funding from a group of high-profile financial institutions to build on its momentum.
Amex Ventures, Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, SEI Ventures and USAA all participated in the new financing, bringing the San Diego-based company’s total funding to $48 million since its 2017 inception.
The funding follows a period in which Trust & Will saw its revenue “more than double” year-over-year, according to CEO and co-founder Cody Barbo, who declined to reveal hard revenue figures but added that the company has seen its business double every year since 2020. He also declined to divulge Trust & Will’s current valuation, telling TechCrunch only that it raised at a higher valuation than its last round — which included a strategic investment from UBS — at the end of 2021.
“We’re in turbulent times as macroeconomic trends continue to impact the tech sector at large, so raising capital in this environment is truly remarkable,” Barbo said. “We’re proud that this capital gives us plenty of runway over the coming years, and will allow us to achieve profitability with strong cash reserves.” The company also plans to use the capital to scale operations and “further integrate with leading financial institutions,” Barbo added. Currently, it’s partnered with a number of banks, credit unions, other fintechs, insurtechs and nonprofits to educate and offer discounts to their members/customers on estate planning.
At the end of January, Trust & Will crossed over 478,000 cumulative members, and is on track to cross 500,000 this quarter, Barbo said. That compares to 311,753 cumulative members at the end of January 2022.
The capital infusion from Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures represents the firm doubling down on its first investment in the company in 2020.
Trust & Will pledges to provide an “easy and secure” way to create estate plans and settle estates online, with the ability to customize legal documents that adhere to individual state and county guidelines. In October, the startup launched Trust & Will Probate with the goal of streamlining probate and estate settlement with “affordable options.”
The company primarily earns transactional revenue that customers pay upfront. It also charges an annual membership that customers pay on an ongoing basis to have the ability to make updates to their estate plan.
“Estate planning is an essential pillar of sound consumer financial wellness. Yet today, the process is complex, antiquated, and expensive,” said Margaret Lim, managing director at Amex Ventures, in a written statement. “Trust & Will is modernizing the estate planning industry with a simple, fast, and affordable way to set up an estate plan online.” Lim added that Amex is not only investing in the company but also is excited “to explore opportunities to partner with them.”