Queensland Courts Rule That Unsent Text Is Valid Will
A Queensland court has ruled an unsent text message written by a man shortly before he took his own life was a valid will.
But experts have warned against people relying on phones and iPads to draft their wills, saying the risk and cost of proving their legitimacy in the courts is still too high.
The recent case in the Supreme Court in Brisbane hinged on a message saved on a phone by a 55-year-old man who took his own life.
It was addressed to his brother, telling him he and his nephew should "keep all that I have".
The message included banking information and specifics on where he wanted his ashes to be buried.
The man's wife, who left him for the third time just days before his death, contested the validity of the will, arguing the fact he hadn't sent it meant it was not his final instructions.
However, in a written judgment handed down this week, the court ruled it was valid and that the division of the man's property be executed in accordance with his wishes.
Digital wills are becoming more frequent in Queensland, President of the Law Society Christine Smyth told AAP on Tuesday.
But they aren't automatically considered valid under the current legislation.
Formal wills in Queensland must be written on paper, signed by the testator and two witnesses in their presence.
There are provisions for courts to consider "informal" wills such as those kept digitally, but the legal process can be costly and time-consuming.
"By not doing a proper will, you're trusting the people you leave behind into the legal system," Ms Smyth said.
She said legislation had not kept pace with changes in society, but that the legal community was working towards its progression.
"I think that the law needs to catch up with technology and to that extent this year I put together a working group within the Queensland Law Society to investigate the prospect of an electronic wills register," she said.
Ms Smyth said the register would keep details of formal wills on a database to enable loved ones to quickly locate the most current document.
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.