Australian court rules unsent text message is a legitimate will | News | DW | 11.10.2017
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Australian court rules unsent text message is a legitimate will

One man's unsent text message has been ruled a valid will by a court in Australia. The man drafted the text shortly before taking his life, leaving his home to his brother instead of his wife and son.

Bearing the words "my will" and a smiley face, one deceased man's drafted text message was found to be a legitimate last will and testament by the Brisbane Supreme Court in Australia.

Drafted before the 55-year-old man committed suicide in October 2016, the unsent message dictated that the man's house and pension should be left to his brother and nephew rather than his wife and son.

"The informal nature of the text does not exclude it from being sufficient to represent the deceased's testamentary intentions," wrote Justice Susan Brown, who handed down the decision on Monday.

She noted that a previous court decision found that a DVD with the words "my will" written on it was a valid document.

Signed with a smiley

The text message addressed the man's brother and nephew, stating: "Keep all that I have house and superannuation, put my ashes in the back garden."

The man's wife "will take her stuff," the message stated, adding that there was "a bit of cash behind TV and a bit in the bank."

At the end of the draft text were the words "my will" followed by a smiley face emoji.

Symbolbild SMS Mobiltelefon Vorratsdatenspeicherung (picture-alliance/dpa/P. Kneffel)

The man's wife argued that since the message wasn't sent it showed the deceased hadn't made up his mind

The man's wife and his son from a previous marriage challenged the validity of the unusual will in court. The woman argued that since the message wasn't sent, it was "consistent with the deceased not having made up his mind" and cannot be a legitimate will.

The court rejected her argument, noting that the wording of the drafted text showed that the man intended for the message to serve as his will.

"The reference to his house and superannuation and his specification that the [wife] was to take her own things indicates he was aware of the nature and extent of his estate, which was relatively small," Brown wrote in her decision.

The court noted that the deceased man "did not have any real relationship" with his son as well as "a fairly rocky relationship" with his wife — although the couple was also "observed to have had happier times."

Although the man did not leave his wife or son anything in his final message, the judge said they could apply for a stake in the estate under family law.

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