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Vegemite Redux?

Vegemite Redux?

In the intersection of two common themes here (Australian probate craziness and the danger of DIY wills), a terminally ill Australian woman filled in a DIY will while (whilst?) at the hospital. The will was only four pages long, but had multiple pages of attachments addressing her wishes from who would receive her house (apparently multiple charities depending on her thoughts at the moment) to who would receive her step ladder, cow bell, and scrapbook items. The Australian court admitted the will to probate, but the future interpretation and litigation will incur tens of thousands dollars in legal fees for her estate.

A few low hanging points:

1. The cost of attorney fees for preparing a will properly is minor compared to the costs of fixing a will that was not prepared properly.

2. The larger intangible cost for this woman is that her assets might not be distributed to her preferred charities/individuals and under the terms she truly wanted.

3. Call me unsentimental, but I doubt anyone cares about the step ladder, cow bell, and scrapbook stuff.

Photo Credit:  Zicasso Travel Website/unknown

License:  Fair Use/Education

This Explains Vegemite

In Australia, a man who was despondent after his wife left him drafted a text message to his brother saying that he wanted his brother and nephew to keep all that he had, told him where his cash was stashed, provided the PIN to his bank accounts, bashed his wife, then signed it “my will.” He did not send the message. After the man killed himself, a friend found the unsent message on his phone. A court has admitted the text message as the will of the deceased man.

A few points:

1. Although digital wills are around the corner, this would not work in Ohio because it was not witnessed nor signed.

2. Unsent? I find it similar to an unsigned will – there is not enough proof that this is his intent.

3. A court in Australia previously held that a will typed on an iPhone was valid.

4. At this rate, Australian courts will soon declare wills written with all emojis as valid.

Photo Credit:  news.com.au (?)

License:  Fair Use/Education  

No Signature, No Witnesses, No Worries

An Australian court recently ruled that a will typed in the notes section of an iPhone is valid.  The will was prepared by a man who committed suicide shortly thereafter.  The will was not witnessed nor was it signed.  Nonetheless, the court deemed it valid.

Several points:

1.  Thanks to Charlie Young, the attorney who represented the estate of the deceased, for sending me this news.

2.  Such a will in Ohio would not be valid because it did not meet the requirements of being witnessed by 2 individuals and signed by the deceased.  Presumably, if 2 witnesses and the deceased had signed their names electronically, it would have a chance of being valid in Ohio.  I would not want to represent the test case, though.

3.  If the will had been written on a Microsoft tablet, it would most likely not have been found valid because no one would have figured out how to use the tiles in Windows 8.

Contact Me

All Posts By Jay Brinker

I am an attorney located in Cincinnati, Ohio who practices in the areas of estate planning, probate, asset protection, and small business advice. I make a difficult and bewildering process as simple as possible. Most importantly, I provide "more for less" for my clients.