May 8


Can a Text Message SMS be a Legal Will?

In 2017, a court in Australia accepted a draft text message on a dead man’s mobile phone as an official will.

Not only was the text message in draft mode, it had been left unsent. This caused a controversial court case when the deceased man’s wife applied to the Brisbane Supreme Court, to manage his assets arguing that the text message was not valid as a will because it was never sent.

The deceased had not composed a formal will, but composed a text message addressed to his brother, in which he instructed that “all that I have” was to be left to his brother and nephew. “Put my ashes in the back garden” he wrote.

Sadly, this SMS message was found in the drafts folder on the man’s phone after he took his own life. 

“You and (nephew) keep all that I have house and superannuation, put my ashes in the back garden … (wife) will take her stuff only she’s OK gone back to her ex AGAIN I’m beaten. A bit of cash behind TV and a bit in the bank Cash card pin … My will.”


This text message, which included banking information and a request to bury his ashes at a specific site, was discovered by a friend who was searching through the dead man’s phone for clues.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Supreme Court in Brisbane, Australia, has declared the text message to be a valid will.

“The reference to his house and superannuation and his specification that the applicant was to take her own things indicates he was aware of the nature and extent of his estate, which was relatively small,”

Justice Susan Brown

The judge made the ruling after the dead man’s wife applied to manage her late husband’s estate, arguing the text message was not valid as it was never actually sent.

But Brown found the use of the words “my will” and the detailed references to his superannuation and property indicated he was fully aware of what he was doing.

Brown said she was also aware of evidence indicating he and his wife had an unstable relationship, that he had no relationship with his son, and that they had broken up “just days” before he took his own life.

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