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What happens if you find a will on a deceased’s iPhone?

Introduction

In the recent decision delivered by the Supreme Court of Queensland Quinn (Dec’d), Re [2019] QSC 099 it was determined that a video recording of a Will recorded on an iPhone by the deceased be admitted to Probate as an “informal Will” as it met the requirements of Section 18 of the Succession Act 1981 (Qld) (this section provides the Court the discretion to dispense with the formal requirements for a valid will having regard to any evidence).

Questions Determined by the Court

  1. Was there a document left by the deceased?

The Court was satisfied that the recording on the iPhone is clearly a document within Section 18 of the Queensland Succession Act 1981.

  1. Did that document purport to be the testamentary intentions of the deceased?

The Court was satisfied that Mr Quinn, at the time of creating the video recording, understood the nature of the act of creating a Will and its effect and understood the extent of the property of which he was disposing.  Therefore in the circumstances the Court was satisfied that not only did the video recording set out the deceased’s testamentary intentions but also that the video recording established that the deceased had testamentary capacity at the time he made it.

  1. Did the deceased by some act or words, demonstrate that it was his then intention that the Will, being the iPhone video recording should, without more on his part, operate as his Will?

The Court found that there was no evidence that the deceased intended to revoke or alter the terms of his Will in the period between the date of the recording and his death. For this reason the Court found that the deceased demonstrated by his acts that his intention was that the iPhone video recording would operate as his Will.

No Other Wills Found

Prior to determining the above issues, the Court found that satisfactory searches for any further Wills made by the deceased after the date of the iPhone video recording had been undertaken and that another Will could not be located.

Conclusion – Costs Implications

There are costs implications for the estate of the deceased if an applicant seeks an order of the Court to dispense the formal requirements for a valid will and admit an “informal document” to probate.   To avoid any unnecessary legal fees being paid out of your estate, we recommend you seek legal advice to ensure you make a will that meets all formal requirements for a valid will.

Josephine Heesh, Partner
Adelaide Ryan, Associate

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