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Is making a will on an iPhone valid?

This intriguing question was considered in Re Yu [2013] QSC 322. Jason Yu sought a declaration that an electronic document created by Karter Yu (the deceased) on his iPhone, was a valid informal will.

The document was expressed to be the deceased’s last will and appointed Jason Yu as executor.

To determine whether the will was valid, Justice Lyons considered section 10 of the Succession Act 1981 (Qld). This section identifies three key requirements relating to the signing of a will.

  1. The will must be in writing.
  2. The will must state the testamentary intentions of the deceased.
  3. The deceased must intend the document to be his or her will.

The court was satisfied that all three requirements were met.

Section 7 of the Wills Act 1997 (Vic) is similar to section 10 of the Succession Act.

There are a number of risk management lessons practitioners can take away.

  1. Always check that a will complies with the requirements set out in section10 of the Wills Act.
  2. If in doubt about the validity of a will, seek a court order.
  3. A will found on an electronic device, such as a phone or computer is not invalid for this reason alone and may constitute an informal will.
  4. Executors may need to be told to check computers and phones for important documents, such as wills.

For more information on the role of the executor refer to the LPLC publication A guide for executors.

More information on wills and estates can be found in the LPLC Practice Risks Guide Weatherproofing wills and estates.