The formalities of Will making have been legislated and fought over for thousands of years.
Historically the law required the most stringent compliance with the technicalities of a Will before it would be treated as valid.
However from time to time the stringency of the rules has been loosened to allow for a will to be deemed valid if there was only a minor defect in the will document itself, and where rendering it invalid may have caused a greater injustice to the beneficiaries, such as a wife and children.
The Supreme Court recently had to deal with a text message in which a deceased person had set out his wish to leave his house and other assets to his brother and nephew. It also included a note that there was “a bit of cash behind TV” and gave the pin number for his ATM card.
There was no written document (in the normal sense), nothing signed, no witnesses, and effectively very little of the normal features of a Will.
The court was however satisfied that a text message (these days) could be regarded as a document, the deceased intended the document to be his will, and at the relevant time he had the mental capacity to make a will.
Of course, that decision only occurred after substantial costs were incurred in seeking the court’s endorsement of the text message as a will. Much simpler, and cheaper, to do a will in the normal way – in writing, signed, with two witnesses, and including all the other formalities associated with a will.
Brisbane Elder Law are experts in relation to Wills, Will Disputes and Estate Claims. If you are considering making a claim or defending against such a claim you need to contact us as soon as possible.
This is general advice only. The law is complex, and you should get specific advice about your personal circumstances.