Landmark Decision in Electronic Will case

Landmark Decision in Electronic Will case

In what could prove to be a case with significant implications for the law relating to Wills, an Australian Court has ruled that an unsent, draft text message found on a gentleman’s mobile phone IS an official Will.

The man in question took his own life and the message was found on his phone following his death. The Australian Court has ruled that it was clear from the wording the man intended this message to act as his last Will.

Similarly to UK law, for a Will to be valid in Australia it should be in writing, signed and also signed by two independent witnesses. It is clear therefore that the text message is not anywhere near in accordance with the strict requirements of the law. The law in Queensland was however relaxed in 2006 to allow consideration as to whether less formal documents can constitute a Will.

The Judge in this case ruled that the details shown in the message, to include details of the man’s assets and his wishes in regard to those, was sufficient to show his intention and that the informal nature of the message should not prevent that from taking effect as his Will.

We previously considered proposals in respect of electronic Wills in the UK. It will be interesting to see whether this recent Australian decision reignites the debate and leads to a consideration of relaxing the laws relating to Wills in the UK.

Importance of a Valid Will

In order to ensure your wishes are achieved upon your death, it is essential that your Will clearly complies with the legal requirements. The failure to comply with these requirements will render your Will invalid and may result in your loved ones having to endure expensive and lengthy Court proceedings in order for matters to be resolved.

It is important to note that in the UK the laws surrounding the preparation of Wills remain very strict and informal or electronic documents, as in the case mentioned above, at present will not be valid.

For peace of mind and to ensure your Will is valid and your wishes will be given effect to, it is vital to take advice from a solicitor on the terms and preparation of your Will.

If you would like advice on making a Will please contact us on 01323 727321 or use the enquiry form below.

Please note, this article does not constitute legal advice.