Despite a claim from his estranged wife, the court decided that “The informal nature of the text does not exclude it from being sufficient to represent the deceased’s testamentary intentions”.
However, would this verdict stand in the UK? While in certain circumstances, the formal requirements of a will can be overlooked in Queensland, in England and Wales the situation is very different.
According to law, a will must be made in writing and signed by the testator in front of two witnesses. The will must then be signed by two witnesses. In addition, the person making the will must intend the document to be used as such. So, in England and Wales, the draft text message would not have been accepted by the courts.
In England and Wales, such a case would also likely lead to arguments about mental ability, although the Queensland Court did consider this issue and found that the man did have the capacity to make his will.
The Law Commission is currently looking into potential will reforms and is looking at whether changes should be made to take account of developments in technology. They are considering both electronic wills and dispensing provisions. However, concerns about protecting people from unscrupulous beneficiaries and abuse are expected to influence any reforms.