Australian court rules an unsent text message on phone counts as a will

A text message counts as a will in Australian court.
A text message counts as a will in Australian court.

Image: Getty Images/EyeEm

An unsent message of a deceased man in Australia has been ruled as a valid will. 

It means he will leave his estate to his brother and nephew as opposed to his son and wife, who he apparently had a difficult relationship with. 

The decision was handed down by a judge at the Supreme Court of Queensland, following no evidence of any other will created by the deceased man.

The man, who tragically took his own life, was found with the phone by his widow in October 2016. The following day, a friend of the widow was asked to look through the deceased man’s contact list to see who should be notified of his death. 

It was there the unsent text message was found, and a screenshot was taken. 

“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 MRN190162Q 10/10/2016 My will,” read the text message.

The widow, who contested the will, sought to rely on the fact that because the deceased man did not send the text message, he didn’t mean it.

But the judge in this case, Justice Susan Brown, was satisfied the unsent text constituted as a valid document and the deceased man had made up his mind on where his property would go after his death, due to the words “my will” at the end of the message.

Also noted by the judge was the contact between the deceased man, his brother and nephew, prior to his death, and that the text was written close to the date of his death. It was also deemed likely the deceased man intended for the message to be found with him.

“In all of the circumstances I consider that the text message was intended by the deceased to operate as his will upon his death,” Brown said.

Queensland law states that wills need to be in writing and signed off by two witnesses. If a person dies without a will, they are subject to their assets being divided as per the state’s Succession Act.

To talk to someone about self-injury or if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For international resources, this list is a good place to start.

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