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Unsent Text Message Is Valid Will, Court Rules

By William Vogeler, Esq. on October 16, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Perhaps the cycle of life is the same as the cycle of law when it comes to wills.

In Queensland, Australia, a court has accepted an unsent text message as a valid will. The text was found in the deceased man's phone after he committed suicide.

As in any probate case, it marked the sad end of a life. But it happened at a time when informal wills are making a comeback.

Informal Wills

The Australian case arose in 2016 after the 55-year-old man died. His wife went to court to manage his estate, but the unsent text showed he wanted all his possessions to go to his brother and nephew instead.

She argued it was not valid because it was not sent. But Brisbane Supreme Court Judge Susan Brown his text showed he was of sound mind and that it sufficiently identified his property and his will.

In the past, a valid will had to be in writing and signed by two witnesses. But the Australian law changed in 2006, allowing for less formality in wills.

In the United States, handwritten wills are often recognized. It depends on the jurisdiction, but in some states no witnesses are required for informal wills.

Nothing New

Handwritten, or holographic wills, are not new. Because they can be verified by the testator's handwriting, they can be easier to prove than the lastest thing -- electronic wills.

According to reports, the shortest informal will to be recorded was of a Czech man who wrote "everything to wife" on his bedroom wall in 1967. A Canadian farmer etched his last wishes onto the fender of a tractor he was trapped under in 1948.

They were deemed to be valid wills.

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