Two 2014 Queensland cases have allowed “technological Wills” to be admitted to probate.
In both of the cases, the formal execution requirements of our Succession Act were disposed of and the “documents” were declared valid because they met the other requirements of a Will under the Act.
The first involved a series of notes left on the deceased’s iPhone shortly before he committed suicide. In this case the notes were held to be the deceased’s Will because the court decided:
- the notes were a “document” within the definition applicable – “any disc, tape or any other article or any material from which writings can be produced”;
- the notes stated the testamentary intentions of the deceased. The notes dealt with the disposal of his entire property and even appointed an executor; and
- the deceased intended the document to form his Will, it commenced with the words “This is the last Will and Testament…”, an executor was appointed and the deceased’s name was typed at the end of the notes.
The second case involved a DVD made by the deceased before his suicide. In this case the DVD was found to be the deceased’s Will because the court decided that:
- the DVD was a “document” within the definition applicable;
- the document embodied, or was meant to embody, the testamentary intentions of the deceased. The DVD was labeled “my will” by the deceased;
- the document was made in contemplation of death;
- although the definition of the property was informal, the document purported to dispose of the deceased’s property after death; and
- the substance of the recording on the DVD demonstrated that the DVD would operate on the death of the deceased, as his Will.
As more people make use of technological advances and electronic media, it is likely we will see an increase in these types of ‘unusual’ Wills. This being said, nothing can substitute a Will considered drafted by a legal professional that adequately deals with your circumstances, if nothing else it will ensure your estate is not put to unnecessary expense of court proceedings such as the ones required for the above “wills”.
If you require estate planning advice, or you would like to take this opportunity to update your succession planning documents please do not hesitate to contact our office.