Not that long ago, there was a lot of who-ha about a text message. The moral of the story was that of signing your will. An Australian court ruled that a text message should be taken as a local man’s last will and testament.

‘The formalities set out in the Wills Act do really matter.’

Lord Justice Jacobs, Parks V Clout 2003

Signing, not Texting

The implication was: ‘in these enlightened times, why mess about with quill and parchment’. No, my friend. Not so fast. Not soooo fast.

Oh, the fuss was all exciting, but it missed the point.  First the facts. A 55-year-old man composed but didn’t send a text message by which he disinherited his wife. The man further died by his own hand.

He perhaps didn’t care

This case, as they say in cheap literature, stinks. Australian rules of wills and succession aren’t dissimilar to those in England and Wales. A will must be in writing (on paper), it must be signed, two independent parties must witness the signature.

A colleague of mine, who eschews circumlocution put it thus: ‘one can only conclude that he didn’t care if his estate would end up in a mess or not. If he cared, if he wanted everything on the level, he’d have written a will like a normal, sensible, well-adjusted person’.

Facts & A Good Story

At best, I’d say it was a case of the facts not being allowed to get in the way of a good story. Nay, it was nonsense walking on stilts.

Of course, in all the cacophonous reporting, many missed an important bit of detail – the deceased’s widow was granted leave to appeal. I imagine it was a case of letting a bit of detail get in the way of a good story.

For now, for as long as you and I can see your will must be in writing. That way you can sign your will. On the court case, I shall keep you appraised.

Meanwhile, if you’d like your affairs on the level, rather than the subject of a court case, contact me.

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