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Death in the 21st Century: The Will Goes Digital

In today’s digital world, you can communicate and shop with people and stores all over the world…in a matter of seconds.  However, digital applications and devices are affecting those living as well as those still living after a loved one’s death.

In Australia, a man made his final farewell, constructing documents on his iPhone.  The logistics of the matter inspired a number of questions regarding the legality of such a nonstandard document.

Queensland

 

A Supreme Court of Queensland ruled the will was valid and subject to proper proceedings upheld by law.  The decision found that electronically created (and stored) documents satisfy all three elements regarding non-traditional documents.

 

-         A document may include any disc, tape, or other piece of content, which can be used to orchestrate a written reproduction, with or without the help of another device or article.

-         The document must educate readers about the last will and testament of the deceased.

-         The living must prove that the deceased intended the electronic content to be their actual will and last wishes.

Judgement

 

The court decided that the man, who orchestrated his last will and testament on his iPhone, satisfied the requirements of a legal and active will.  Importantly, the document states, verbatim, “This is the last Will and Testament of…”

Signing his name (in type) and reiterating his identify and address at the bottom made officials agree that the man intended his posthumous work to be ‘operative,’ and was orchestrated after his final notes and contemplation of his imminent death.

The final decision made it guaranteed that the document be considered legally active, and the orchestrator’s wishes to be put in place.

Implications

 

Moving further in the digital age, last wishes, composed on computers, smartphones, webcams, and other devices, are seen as legal and valid documents, which pose potential problems when it comes to posthumous device hacking and revisions (by loved ones or potential business partners).

Causing more confusion, some, feeling their last moments are upon them yet never forming a lasting testament, quickly leverage what’s at hand to make final wishes lasting.

 

The NSW Supreme Court accepted an informal will after a celebrity restaurant owner leveraged a Word document to arrange his last wishes in 2010.  The man, previously running a $3 million Japanese restaurant empire, intrigued his immediate society as well as the rest of the world regarding the legitimacy of the non-traditional document.

Since Mr. Yazbek committed suicide, the case especially raised brows of onlookers and interested parties following the case.  Though it did not feature the required signature and two witnesses, his word document was accepted as valid. 

Posthumous Hacking

 

As referred to above, potential hacking and tampering of digital documents becomes a concern for those still living, and in some cases, subject to receive a lot of money from deceased parties.

In the case of Mr. Yazbek, a forensic computer expert was leveraged to ensure the former’s computer was password protected, and Daniel was the only soul who could create, edit, and access the document.

Legal Help

Wills & Probate Perth a specialised law firm, states you should speak with your loved ones and consult an expert. In some cases, using digital tools to create a last will and testament may be a person’s preference.  In other scenarios (in the case of a disability), people may use electronic devices to orchestrate content and communicate (video, text, graphic) regularly, with a digital version of a will the peoples’ only option.

It’s suggested to seek legal help if you or a loved one prefers to form their last will and testament using digital devices.  Moreover, it’s important that the content, in its digital format, is maintained and free from hackers or subsequent tampering.

There’s been cases where living loved ones squabble over the matter of a comma; so, one can assume the possibility of complete editing and upheaval by an outside party could worry authors as well as loved ones who will gain monetary gifts.

In a digital world, it’s now necessary to consider its legitimacy when it comes to one’s lasting wishes.

Kate Ecuyer is a grief counsellor of several years. She likes to help others by writing about topics surrounding death and dying. You can find her helpful articles by visiting legal, family and lifestyle blogs.

 

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