Will found on iPhone deemed valid

A decision by the Supreme Court declared that a Will typed on a person’s iPhone before their passing was deemed valid

A recent Queensland Supreme Court decision has declared a Will typed on the “notes” application on a man’s iPhone shortly before he took his own life as a valid Will.

Shortly before the deceased died, he created a series of documents on his iPhone, most of them final farewells, however one note was expressed to be his last Will.

In Queensland, section 10 of the Succession Act 1981 (Qld) (“The Act”) identifies the requirements for the execution of a valid Will.

However section 18 of the Act provides a safety net for informal Wills in that it provides that if the Court is satisfied that a person intended a document to form the person’s Will, then the document forms a Will if it purports to state the testamentary intentions of the deceased person.

When will a document be declared an informal Will?

For a document to be declared an informal Will it must satisfy three conditions.

  1. The existence of a document.
  2. Does the document state the testamentary intentions of the deceased as to what he/she wishes to be done with his/her property on their death?
  3. Did the deceased intend the document to form his/her Will?

The facts of Re: Yu[1]:

  • The court determined that something created and stored on an iPhone was a document in accordance with section 36 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1954 (Qld).
  • It dealt with the whole of the deceased’s property, and provided for its distribution at a time when the deceased was plainly contemplating his imminent death.
  • The deceased appointed his Brother to be his Executor and nominated an alternative Executor.   The appointment of an executor reflects an intention that the document be operative.
  • The document commenced with the words, “This is the last Will and Testament…” of the deceased, who was then formally identified, together with a reference to his address.

Does this mean I can create my Will on my iPhone?

This decision does not mean that you should create your Will on your iPhone. An informal Will is very risky and can often be difficult to prove after your death.  The risks are that the document is created with no witnesses therefore it is difficult that you authorised the “Will.” A phone is also accessible by other person, which means it could have been written by someone else. It is also easier to contest or challenge the Will later on as it does not have the person’s signature. The difficulty of proving the Will can incur unnecessary legal costs in your estate administration further down the track.

Do you need help with preparing a legal Will?

You can easily avoid these unnecessary costs if you contact our Wills and Estates Solicitor to prepare your legally valid Will. If you require more information about our Estate Planning services please contact Jenna Hutchinson on (07) 3025 9000 or via our online enquiry form.

[1] Re: Yu [2013] QSC 322.