A 55-year-old man from Australia had composed a text message addressed to his brother, in which he gave “all that I have” to both his brother and nephew.
The message was found in his drafts folder after he took his own life last year.
Brisbane Supreme Court ruled that 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 had argued that the text message was not valid as a will because it was never sent.
For a will to be valid in the city of Queensland, it must be written and signed by two witnesses. 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,” Brown said.
She added that 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.
Another unusual will that was accepted in Queensland included a DVD marked with “my will,” in 2013.
Queensland Law Society president and succession law specialist Christine Smyth said the law was changed in 2006 to allow for less formal types of documents to be accepted as wills.
“It used to be the case that if you did not strictly comply with the legislation as to the drawing of a will, it would not be considered a will,” Smythe said.
Smyth said while it was accepted in this case, writing a will in a text message was “absolutely not” recommended. “As you read through this case, you get a sense of the amount of evidence that has to be produced to satisfy a court,” she said.
“If a person hasn’t drawn a formal will, there are some significant hurdles which must be overcome to establish that the document that looks like a will, is in fact, a will.”
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