Meet the women behind SA legaltech life.file

Unlike many peppy startup stories, Cape Town-based life.file’s beginning was marked by pain.

One of the co-founders experienced a personal loss and the accompanying legal obstacles of wrapping up an estate. This led the life.file duo to build a solution for anyone one else facing the overwhelming legal administration of losing a loved one.

The concept was born out of a conversation between Keet and her mother

Claire Keet and Sinal Govender founded the company in June 2021 after meeting first on Instagram, then reconnecting in-person later. The business partners and friends sat down with Ventureburn for an in-depth interview. 

life.file – the Dropbox for Death

The life.file concept was born out of a conversation in late 2019 between Keet and her mother.

“My mom and I had a chat about a few unexpected deaths in the little town where my folks live. We spoke specifically about the overwhelming administration facing the people left behind and how it was robbing them of the space to grieve their loved ones. We chatted about facing an overwhelming situation one day in our own family and realised that we felt pretty ill-equipped to deal with death. It felt a bit like none of us had our ducks in a row – worse still, we didn’t even know what ducks to get in a row. Like we wouldn’t have an answer to the question “what now?” if something happened to any of us. I couldn’t accept that such a universal human experience – the legal admin of losing a loved one – hadn’t been made easier to get through. I went hunting on the internet for something, anything, to solve this problem. When I came up empty-handed, I started designing the solution myself,” Keet clarified.

She continued, saying, “Not long after that, I met Sinal, a former Big Law attorney who had lost her mom to cancer in 2017. Sinal knew firsthand how overwhelming estate admin was, despite being a practising lawyer and graduating with top marks in succession law. Even with a solid knowledge of the law, not much can make sifting through boxes and files of documents easy.”

Keet chatted to a family friend who has practised law for over thirty years. He generously shared the list of all documentation his law firm asks for when wrapping up an estate. The list was practical – Ariel, black and white, font size 12 – but overwhelming on a normal day, let alone after someone you love has just died. 

The startup has purposely positioned the life.file brand as the opposite of what you’d expect from a legal death company. The partners aptly nicknamed the offering the “Dropbox for Death” – designed to help people navigate the legal parts of life and death for less than the price of a coffee per month. The platform helps users through often painful and inconvenient legal obstacles by guiding them to create, store and share a life.file of all their legal life documents. 

“Through a fun, easy-to-use design experience, life.file prompts users to create a life.file of all the legal and financial categories specific to their unique circumstances. The idea is that each life.file is unique and that it evolves over a lifetime as new houses are bought, or new babies are born, or new marriages begin. life.file guides users through the creation of their most important legal life documents. We’ve launched life.file with a will builder that guides our users through the writing of a bespoke will. It takes 15 minutes, with loads of educational legal help text along the way,” Keet detailed.

The platform design is colourful, pretty and clean. The language is surprisingly welcoming and warm, considering the subject matter – and for good reason. The partners list empathy as one of the most important pillars in the company. The legaltech company has several plans for the near future. “Once our users have created their life.files, they’re able to share them with trusted contacts. Our users’ life.files are stored in secure cloud infrastructure and we use industry-standard cybersecurity measures to keep our user data safe. Very soon, we’ll be rolling out other basic legal life documents, like a living will, domestic worker agreement, power of attorney and lease agreement,” said Keet.

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Featured image: (Left to right) life.file founders Sinal Govender and Claire Keet via Dillon Kin (Supplied)

Lauren Daniels, Editor


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