How Human-Centered Design Can Assist In “Death” Conversations

Mike Cooley, the godfather of human-centered design.

Mike Cooley, an Irish engineering designer, first posed the idea of human-centered systems. Human-centered design involves putting the human, or the user, at the very core of problem solving when designing a product.

It uses their wants, needs, fears, and behaviors to effectively come up with a solution to a problem. This way, your product will serve a greater purpose for people and society.

For Legacy Foundry, our human problem revolves around “death” conversations. For many reasons, people hate talking about death and all the paperwork that comes with it. The problem is that people don’t know how to deal with the deaths or illnesses of loved ones, emotionally or financially. And many aren’t prepared to have those conversations until it’s too late.

Planning For Death is Difficult, But Necessary

We get it — death is a hard topic to bring up. When your parents are getting older or are lying sick in bed, you may not want to be the one to ask, “So… what are you gonna do about the house?” (That’s an important question to ask… it’s complicated.)

You don’t want to be the son or daughter who’s basically asking them, “What do I get when you die?” It just doesn’t feel right to talk about that once those circumstances are upon you.

But if they pass away and those conversations never happened and were never written down, you won’t only find yourself grieving the loss of your parents. You may also be dealing with the loss of the home you grew up in or most of the assets that could’ve gone to your children’s college funds.

So how do you plan for the deaths of those closest to you without offending them? How do you open up that dialogue in a trusting and safe way?

That’s where Legacy Foundry comes in.

Our software can assist people in dealing with those difficult conversations before it’s too late. We partner with financial advisors so that they can offer a way for families to talk about (and have on paper) the legacy they want to leave for future generations.

We want our software to make death conversations more comfortable for both families and financial advisors. By using our software as a shield for those difficult (but necessary) questions, financial advisors can help families manage their assets without feeling insensitive.

“Sorry, the software’s asking you to fill out these questions, not me! You have to answer it.”

Most companies don’t usually want their product to “take the blame,” but Legacy Foundry has a human-centered mindset. We have to look at places where our software can help — that’s looking at how people interact with it and how people use it, and the best places to make it fit. And if the best way we can help families plan for death is by our software “taking the blame,” then so be it.

Legacy Foundry Assists, But Doesn’t Take Over

Another human-problem to be addressed is the role of technology in our everyday lives. There’s the age-old debate of whether or not technology will eventually replace people. As a fin-tech company, we had to address what stance to take. It was an easy decision.

Legacy Foundry’s goal is to assist in death conversations, not replace them.

The Silicon Valley “replace humans” mindset is prevalent in our industry, but we don’t feel the same way. We couldn’t replace humans even if we wanted to.

A sensitive, human-centered design approach is needed to help people talk through grieving. AI is never going to help people manage and allot assets after death.

Instead, our software is a tool to help families gather important financial documents, photos, and videos in one space. It’s a tool for financial advisors to use to talk about the legacy families want to leave behind.

Our software is designed with the user at its core. Through checklists, action items, resources, and more, Legacy Foundry allows families and financial advisors a chance to interact more effectively.

We assist in conversations — we are not the conversation.

The Importance of User Feedback

To provide people with better tools and build better software for that space (“that space” meaning awkward end-of-life conversations with your family), we need user feedback at every step.

We need to know how our software makes people feel, but we also need to know what they are still having problems with.

And if we don’t get user feedback for a certain part, that’s just as important to note as the parts in the software that get tons of feedback.

“Why did you not do this?” is as important a question as “Why did you do this?”

Operating under the principles of human-centered design, we value hearing back from our users and are constantly updating and improving our software based on it. We want to make sure our software provides power and purpose to anyone who uses it, from teens to grandparents. 

With human-centered design in mind, Legacy Foundry can help thousands of financial advisors and families approach these terrifying situations in a more amenable way. Our team wants to assist in streamlining end-of-life conversations, taking away the “awkward” and “insensitive” feelings surrounding that space. In doing so, families will have the opportunity to openly discuss the legacy they want to leave behind, from assets, to values, and everything in between.

For more information on how Legacy Foundry can help, visit our FAQs page, or contact us today to request a demo.

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