The Supreme Court in Brisbane has accepted a dead man’s unsent, draft text message leaving his possessions to his brother and nephew instead of his wife and son, as an official will.
Making headlines in the UK, it gives the Law Commission something to think about as it reviews a recent public consultation on reforms to will making. Given the ever-changing digital world in which we live, the formalities of will writing remain governed by archaic laws from 1837.
The text message in question read:
“Dave Nic – you and Jack keep all that I have house and superannuation, put my ashes in the back garden with Trish. Julie will take her stuff only she’s gone back to her ex AGAIN. I’m beaten. A bit of cash behind TV and a bit in the bank Cash card pin 3636
The deceased had been estranged from his first wife and son. His second wife (Trish) had passed away. He had been married to his third wife, Julie, for a year before he took his own life.
No matter how convincing and persuasive evidence from third parties or intentions made from informal sources may be, English law states that no such informal expression of wishes can influence the disposal of an estate.
With the increasing digitisation of our daily lives, it’s food for thought for the Law Commission as it considers its consultation results and whether an official will could be made electronically and whether courts will recognise informal documents, even unsent text messages.
In the meantime, individuals must continue to seek professional legal advice on the preparing and making regular updates to their wills.
To ensure you make an official will, speak to our Wills and Estate Planning team about writing or amending a will or call 01323 407555