Estate planning and end of life decisions are difficult to talk about as most people are afraid to discuss death and loss. 

However, these are necessary commitments that need to be addressed as death does not look at age, ethnicity, religion or even nationality. 

Before it inevitably occurs, there are several steps that we can take to ensure our assets are evenly distributed, to make certain that our memories are passed on to family and friends and That our instructions are remembered through Memori (www.memori.io). 

Memori is a one-stop platform that provides affordable and accessible legacy planning services that aims to demystify the process and price of legacy planning for everyone.

The company was founded by former government officer Queenie Chong who has passionately made it her mission to raise awareness on Will writing and death while fighting the misconceptions that surround it.

When Memori began

 Growing up, the young entrepreneur would often witness family disputes either over funeral arrangements or distribution of wealth. 

“I thought to myself, the disputes could have been prevented if people have their last wishes or instructions written in black and white.” 

“It’s when I looked into Will writing that we later discovered that a majority of the population do not plan for their end of life as, there are many misconceptions around writing a Will and planning the end of life,” said Chong. 

Fueled by her wish to not see her family go through the same situation, the 33-year-old left her government job to venture into the challenging business. 

“I joined the start-up ecosystem for a few years and made sure to build up my network before starting the company.”

From its inception, she also included her focus to the market in Singapore and Malaysia.

“This is because the market in Brunei is small and I wanted to gain mentors from the other two regions and was looking forward to the valuable feedback and experience.”

“I used the knowledge I gained and localised the idea and concept – that was when we developed products suitable for Brunei,” she added. 

Memori officially launched in July 2019 offering Online Will writing, Legacy Planning Courses, Insurance and bereavement products and services. 

Additionally, Chong assimilated her grief over the loss of her grandfather into the company and resolved to help others heal during the grieving process.

“I do not want people to feel the same regret as I did, I lost my grandfather one month before my graduation.”

“I wish I was left something – maybe a message that could help me grieve better as it is not an easy process to go through.”

When it came to deciding the logo, she knew exactly what she wanted to incorporate: the infinity logo along with and olive branch, each carrying significant meaning. 

“Here, infinity means that eventhough a person has left us physically but the memory stays forever.”

“While the olive branch means calm and peace of mind because my thought is if you have laid down your wishes and instructions, you are able to leave this world with a peace of mind. At the same time, it helps the loved ones left behind feel at ease.” 

Positive feedback and steady growth 

As Memori grew, they received funding from several investors and Chong discovered other significant aspects associated with Will writing and expanded their products and services despite being in beta phase. 

These products include Financial Literacy courses, Islamic Funeral packages with insurance, Shariah Wills and Memori Instructions. 

“Surprisingly, people are very open to the idea of online wills. More surprisingly, we saw huge interest from millennials – they are the advocates for estate planning, getting their parents and siblings to write a Will.”

“However, a number of our clients have provided feedback that they wanted a non-legal but valid version of a pre-cursor to the actual Will.”

Chong said this is due to certain hard decisions that need to me made when writing a Will.

“Who should carry out my wishes and administer my estate? Who should my assets go to?”

This was when the company launched Memori Instructions which corresponds to Last Instructions. 

“This is a non-legal but valid document that is often used to supplement the Will. The Last Instructions documents guide surviving family members through the estate administration process, directing them to important personal, financial and funeral information.”

“This is particularly useful for insurance policyholders to give instructions on how to distribute their insurance pay-out after passing.” 

Chong said Memori Instructions was additionally crafted for users who wish to personalise documents or notes.

“This is different from the Will, it can be reminders, recipes or whatever they desire and can just be accessed by the loved ones if needed.”

Chong and her team also curated another package to help clients with step by step processes before proceeding to write a Will which includes financial planning and insurance. 

Chong and her team also curated another package to help clients with step by step processes before proceeding to write a Will which includes financial planning and insurance. 

“These aspects are crucial before proceeding to estate planning and end of life decisions. According to the National Financial Literacy survey, 60 per cent of Bruneians do not have emergency funds which is worrying.”

“Therefore, when our clients come to us, one of the first things we do is look into their financial plans – we want to make sure that they are be able to pay off (any) debt and leave funds for their loved ones.” 

Additionally, as the financial planning courses help their clients manage their spending, they are able to plan for future purchases carefully.

“Most of them come back to us with positive changes and have encouraged their others friends to follow in their footsteps.”

“This was an aspect that we did not expect and are grateful that the knowledge gained is passed on further,” Chong added. 

How to sign up 

The public can access the Memori Will generator through their website at www.memori.io and are encouraged to look through the FAQ and Will tabs before signing up. 

“Once they have registered and completed their Will, it should be available for download,” said Chong. 

She added that for a user’s Will to be validated, two witnesses need to be present. 

If users are still unsure of the process and instructions through the website, they can either set a meeting with Chong and her team or join the workshops organised frequently every few weeks. 

These include courses on legacy planning, Islamic funeral workshops with facilitators from Financial Planning Association and the Ministry of Religious Affairs. 

More information on the workshops can be found on their Instagram page @memori.io. 

Future plans

According to Chong, the company has already developed their core products during the COVID-19 lockdown period and are now focused on expansion towards ASEAN for the next couple of years, starting with Malaysia. 

“As Brunei has a similar market demographic as Malaysia, we have started to expand there and found that the market has been highly welcoming and receptive of Memori and its products.”

The company has also been shortlisted for the Gobi Superseed II competition – which promises an investment prize of RM15 million from top investors such as Gobi Ventures and Mavcap. 

“We were also just chosen for the highly selective and prestigious Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC)’s Global Accelerator Coursesme Cohort 4.”

“This platform is meant to equip start-ups with necessary skills, tools and network to be sustainable and ready for ASEAN expansion.”

Chong expressed her gratitude of being shortlisted as MaGIC generally has less than a six per cent acceptance rate which is equivalent, if not lower, than some of the top Ivy League schools. 

Chong expressed her gratitude of being shortlisted as MaGIC generally has less than a six per cent acceptance rate which is equivalent, if not lower, than some of the top Ivy League schools. 

“We are fortunate to be the first Bruneian start-up to participate and obtain the Malaysian government’s help to expand there.” 

With 500 local applicants signed up, Memori intends to grow even further to raise awareness on the importance of leaving more than just memories behind, especially for our loved ones. 

This article was first published on August 15, 2020 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 102

The Bruneian  | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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