WhatsApp Will

Written by Anna Coakes

On the 9th October 2017, in the Supreme Court of Queensland Australia, Justice Brown ruled that an unsent text message found in the deceased’s phone constituted a valid form of will. It read:

“Dave Nic you and Jack keep all that I have house and superannuation, put my ashes in the back garden with Trish Julie will take her stuff only she’s ok gone back to her ex AGAIN I’m beaten . A bit of cash behind TV and a bit in the bank Cash card pin 3636
My will”

The informal nature of the message, coupled with the fact that it was never sent, did not preclude it from being considered to sufficiently represent the deceased’s intentions nor did it deter the judge from considering whether it could operate as a valid form of testamentary disposition. The judge determined that it could.

It is a decision which coincides neatly with a running consultation initiated by The Law Commission who have it in their sights to recommend changes to the law regarding what constitutes a valid will. Thee basis of the consultation is that the law of wills ‘needs to be modernised to take into account the changes in society, technology and medical understanding’ since the Wills Act 1837 was implemented and which still moderates the validity of wills to this day, some 180 years later.

In the light of this, it is perhaps worthwhile to note that the decision in Australia, despite being made some 9,000 miles away, may well be indicative of a changing tide in the law in our own jurisdiction.

Thank you to Kieran Forsyth, trainee solicitor in our Private Client department, for his help in preparing this article.

Disclaimer: This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.

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Anna Coakes

I qualified with a BA/LLB University of Newcastle (NSW), College of Law – Diploma of Legal Practice in Sydney (NSW), before being admitted as a solicitor to the Law Society of England and Wales in 2006. I have 15 years post qualification experience and my practice areas include Probate and Administration of Estates, Wills, Inheritance Tax and Trusts. I currently spend 40% of my time working for uncontested probate. I am Member of STEP, a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of NSW and a Solicitor in England and Wales. Outside of work you can find me cycling, or on muddy dog walks in the country.

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