iPhone Will revisited

In an earlier post we discussed the making of a Will on an iPhone by Karter Yu in September 2011. The Supreme Court of Queensland granted probate of Karter’s Will  to his brother, Jason. Although the Court found that the will satisfied the conditions necessary under the Succession Act. Jason required the assistance of the Court to determine the true construction of Karter’s Will.

Karter’s Will stated that after all debts have been paid:

 “ I would like the remainder of my cash equally apportioned between five parties: Jason Yu, Kinson Yu, Steffen Aufsatz and Dominic Clarke.”

The Court was asked to consider what Karter had intended the term “cash” to include. At the date of his death Karter had over $368,000 in assets that included bank accounts, superannuation, life insurance policies, and employment entitlements.

Owing to the nature of the construction of the Will the Court had to determine whether the superannuation, life insurance policy and employment entitlements should be included as “cash”, which would then be divided between the beneficiaries that Karter named.

The Court was not satisfied that Karter intended his superannuation, life insurance, or employment benefits to be included in the term “cash”. The Court was of the belief that as a young man in his twenties Karter was unlikely to have been aware that when he died there could be an insurance payout of $259,000 paid to his estate as a death benefit. If Kater was aware of these assets he would have referred to them specifically in his Will.

The Court’s decision limited the asset pool to be distributed to the named beneficiaries to around $62,000 the amount held in Karter’s bank accounts.The Court ordered that Jason’s costs for the application as executor of the Will be paid out of the estate.

It is uncommon that Courts admit electronic informal Wills to Probate. However it is not uncommon that informal Wills are admitted to probate, but these can cause delay and increased legal costs for the estate.

Additional costs can be avoided by preparing a Will that clearly demonstrates the Will maker’s intention. This doesn’t necessarily require instructing a solicitor to prepare a document however the language of the document must be clear. Importantly it is better to have a document that clearly outlines your intentions to provide some comfort to your loved ones at a difficult time in their lives.

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