In Australia, there has been a recent story about a legal fight over whether an un-sent txt message could be considered a will. From the story on stuff.co.nz, by Michaela Whitbourn:
"An unsent text message with the words "my will" and a smiley face was a valid will cutting out a dead man's wife and son, a court has ruled.
The family feud over the status of the text played out in the Queensland Supreme Court as the man's brother and nephew asked for the message to be treated as his final will."
The outcome of the battle - at least pending an appeal - is that the message is being treated as the will.
However cheap it might appear be to make a will in this way, even the most expensive legal process to set up a valid will must actually be the inexpensive option compared to arguing the matter in court. In addition to which, the comfort of knowing that a challenge to the will is less likely must surely be worth something. Guidelines for making a will so that it will not be challenged can be found in lots of places, but estate law varies, so local advice by a specialist is vital. That is particularly important in cases where you have one of the following complicating factors:
- complex family structures (meaning, if you have had more than one long-term relationship where you shared property)
- complex business structures (meaning you own shares that cannot easily be sold)
- an intention to leave unequal sums to children
- an intention to leave a very large sum to charity
- have advanced money to a party on the understanding that it will reduce their inheritance
Some good general guidelines exist, and bear thinking about before you visit your lawyer.
- If you want to give money away, you should think about doing it while you're alive
- Discussing your wishes with others can help
- Discussing the sums of money, however, especially with someone who is struggling financially, may cause problems
- Writing an explanatory letter may help a lot