Where there’s a way there can be a will

Article published 28 April 2020

Where there’s a way there can be a will

WHAT do a message on a tractor, a poem and an unsent text message have in common?

They have all been found to be legally binding wills.

More commonly, people create formal wills.

A valid formal will is created when a written document is signed by the will maker in the presence of two or more witnesses. At least two witnesses must sign the will in the presence of the will maker.

The definition of the word ‘document’ has evolved during the digital age and has led to courts finding DVDs and computer files to be valid wills.

Although messages on tractors, poems and text messages have been found to be valid wills, they are examples of what is known as an informal will.

If you have created a document that has not undergone the formal process outlined above but records your intentions for your estate after you die, it may be considered an informal will and followed when you die.

However, an informal will is open to the discretion of the courts. If there is any doubt about the will maker’s capacity to create a will, or their intention to create a will, a court may not accept an informal will.

If you want to be reassured about how your estate will be passed, it is essential that you create a valid formal will.

 

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