An Australian court has held that a will created on an iPhone was valid and could be probated. In re Yu, 2013 WL 6175174. Shortly before Kartur Yu took his own life, he created an estate document on his iPhone. The question before the court was whether the will on the iPhone was valid and enforceable.
The Australian judge applied a three part test to determine whether the will was valid:
(1) it had to be a document
(2) it has to purport to state the testamentary intent of the decedent
(3) the decedent had to have intended the document to form a will.
Using the definition of document from the controlling legislation, the court held that even though the iPhone was an electronic document, that it was indeed still a document. Secondly, the court recognized that the document was created when the decedent was contemplating his death and it dealt with all of the decedent’s property so it satisfied the testamentary intent requirement. Lastly, the court held that the decedent intended the document to form his will because the will was created with a clear intention of it being a legal and operative will to dispose of the decedent’s assets upon his death.
While this may have worked Down Under, Oregon law requires, among other things, that to be enforceable a will has to be in writing, signed by the person who created the will, and signed by two witnesses. ORS 112.235. So while electronic devices serve to make our lives easier in many ways, do not confuse convenience with a legally enforceable document. Talk to your estate planner.