Text Message Not Sent: Do You Know If Your Will Is Valid?

Do you know if your Will is valid?

States and other countries all have differing legal requirements that make a Will valid.

Very similar, though still unfortunate, circumstances took place in Australia and France over the past year. Consider the following two cases with similar facts, but very different results!

In Australia, a court ruled that a Last Will and Testament left via an unsent text message was valid and upheld the man’s last wishes. He was hoping to redirect his property from a cheating spouse to some of his family members, and he succeeded!

However, a court in France this month denied a text message Will was valid in very similar circumstances. A man was going through a divorce and hoped to leave his mother and sister his estate rather than his estranged wife. The court there ruled that in order to be valid the Will must be in writing and signed by the decedent.

Occasionally even different U.S. state, or counties within a state, have specific preferences when it comes to interpreting Wills.

If you move between states, it is highly recommended that you have an attorney specializing in estate planning for your new state have a look to see if your Will is still valid.

A case decided by the Michigan Court of Appeals last July arrived at a conclusion similar to the Australian case. Before taking his own life, the 21-year old son of Lanora Jones wrote a short note stating that his “farewell note is on my phone”.

Upon reviewing the digital document, which detailed his wishes for funeral arrangements and how his possessions were to be distributed, the court ruled that the directions on his phone met the standard of a 'Last Will and Testament' on the grounds that there was enough intent present to be considered his Will. This decision resulted in his half-sister receiving the full amount of a trust fund, at the deceased’s direction, instead of his estranged mother.

The last thing you want is difficulty for your family in probating your estate after you are gone. How you want your estate distributed shouldn’t be left up to chance! Make sure your Will is valid when you move jurisdictions.

And unless you live in Australia, don’t write a Will through a text message!