In this matter the question before the Court was whether or not a Will, allegedly made on an iPhone, could be the accepted as a valid will under s 18 of the Succession Act. That section provides that if the Court is satisfied that a person intended a document to form the person’s Will, then it will be such if it purports to state the testamentary intentions of the deceased person. To this point in time there was no authority as to whether or not such a purported Will (or any other will recorded on an electronic device) could be accepted as such. His Honour considered the three requirements for the making of an order under s 18 as they applied in the case before him:
- First, was the writing contained in the iPhone a “document”? That was determined by reference to the definition of “document” in the Acts Interpretation Act which defined the term to “include any disc, tape or other article, or any material from which writings are capable of being produced or reproduced, with or without the aid of another article or device”. His Honour was satisfied that the electronic data stored on the iPhone was a “document” within the meaning of that definition.
- Second, did the document purport to state the testamentary intentions of the deceased? The “testamentary intentions” are intentions about what is to be done with the deceased’s assets and property on his death. In the matter before the Court the contents of the electronic Will purported to identify the disposal of all of the assets of the deceased and purported to appoint an executor which was a sufficient indication.
- Third, did the deceased intend that the document form his Will? That is, did the deceased intend that document be legally operative so as to dispose of his property upon his death? His Honour held that it was so intended in the case before him, particularly as the document started by reciting, “This is the last Will and Testament …”. Further the instructions in the document were identified as becoming operative on the deceased’s death.
In the result the Court accepted the “document” as the deceased’s will.