Technology affects our lives more and more everyday, and in the case of an Australian family, even from beyond the grave, after a court ruled that an unsent text message on a dead man’s mobile phone was an acceptable will, according to BBC News.
The 55-year-old man had composed a text message addressed to his brother, in which he intended to give “all that I have” to his brother and nephew.
The message was found in the drafts folder on the man’s phone after he took his own life last year.
The Brisbane Supreme Court ruled it as an acceptable will since the wording of the text indicated that the man intended it to act as his will.
In the message, the man gave details of how to access his bank account and where he had hidden money in his house.
“Put my ashes in the back garden,” he wrote. “A bit of cash behind TV and a bit in the bank.”
According to ABC News, the man’s wife applied to manage his assets and argued that the text message was not valid as a will because it was never sent.
Typically, for a will to be valid in Queensland, it must be written and signed by two witnesses.
In the report, Justice Susan Brown said the wording of the text message, which ended with the words “my will”, showed that the man intended it to act as his will.
“The reference to his house and superannuation and his specification that the applicant was to take her own things indicates he was aware of the nature and extent of his estate, which was relatively small,” she said.
She said the “informal nature” of the message did not stop it representing the man’s intentions, especially as it was “created on or about the time that the deceased was contemplating death, such that he even indicated where he wanted his ashes to be placed”.
In 2006, the law in Queensland was changed to allow less ‘formal’ types of documents to be considered as a will, and in 2013, this proved to work after a DVD scribbled with ‘my will’ was accepted as a valid document.
The UK’s Law Commission is currently fielding a public consultation on the legal rules applying to wills.
The proposals listed by the body includes giving courts the capacity to “dispense with the formalities for a will where it’s clear what the deceased wanted”.