Deceased's last wishes recorded in unsent text message

Abbie Kingdon

Brisbane Supreme Court in Queensland, Australia have accepted that the wording of  an “unsent” text from the deceased to his brother, can be treated as an official will.

The deceased, a 55 year old man, had compiled a text to his brother shortly before taking his own life. The message was found in the drafts folder of the deceased’s mobile phone, which gave “all that I have” to his brother and nephew. The text also gave details as to where he wanted his ashes scattered and details of the cash he held and where to find it.

It was argued by the deceased’s partner that the text message could not constitute a valid will because the message had never been sent. However, the Court ruled that the wording of the message which ended with the words “my Will”, showed an intention on the deceased’s part that the message was intended to act as his last Will and Testament.

Normally in Queensland, for a will to be valid it has to be written and signed in the presence of two witnesses, the same formalities for a will to be held valid under English Law.  However, in 2006 the state of Queensland changed the law so that less formal documents could be considered as a will including a DVD marked “my Will”.

Abbie Kingdon, head of the private client department at Samuels Solicitors says “Whilst this case currently has no bearing on the law regarding the preparation and validity of a will in England and Wales, it is a landmark outcome and one which suggests a general trend towards less formal wills being accepted as valid at some point in the future. The law in England and Wales currently does not allow for any informality. It would be interesting to see how the English courts would rule in a similar situation to the judges in Brisbane".   

What makes a Will valid?

To be a valid will in England and Wales, it must:

  • be in writing;
  • be signed by the Testator;
  • be signed in the presence of two witnesses;
  • the two witnesses must be present at the same time; and
  • the witnesses must sign and attest the Will in the presence of the Testator.

If these formalities are not carefully followed, an inheritance dispute could arise.

Do you need a Will?

If you need a will, our experts will be happy to help you. If you find it difficult to get out, we are happy to come and visit you at home, in nursing care, or in hospital, throughout the North Devon and Torridge districts. 

We only ever charge fixed fees for wills which have been agreed with you in advance. 

Contact us to speak to one of our experts today.