Did you know that an unsent, draft text message could be a valid will? It is not only formal, signed and witnessed documents that can be a will. The Courts will always try to give effect to a “testamentary intention” if they can. There are a wide variety of ways and circumstances in which a deceased person can leave a will. Word documents, poems, suicide notes, iPhone notes and text messages could constitute a valid will.
For example, a word document saved with the title “My Will”, or iPhone notes gifting possessions to a family member could be a will.
Frank drafts a text message to his brother and nephew that says “keep all that I have including my house and my money, put my ashes in the back garden”. The message ends with “my will” and a smiley face emoji. The text message is never sent and Frank passes away a few days later. Frank’s wife and son apply to the Court to have all of Frank’s assets bequeathed to them. In the Court proceedings, the Judge upholds the unsent text message as Frank’s valid will. Unfortunately, however, Frank’s brother and nephew have their inheritance significantly reduced due to, in part, the legal expenses involved.
A will that meets the formal, legal requirements is always recommended. A professionally prepared will avoids the cost, delay and uncertainty that arises with “informal” wills, which are often more easily challenged. We recommend that you have a formal will in place or consider updating your will to reflect your current circumstances and wishes.
Our estate planning lawyers can assist you with the design and implementation of an estate plan. Working together to establish or update this plan will give you and your family peace of mind.