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Cell phones, wills, and suicides! Oh my!

So, two crazy things happened today. One was from Australia, where the Brisbane Supreme Court ruled that an unsent text can be a substitute for a will. The second was from Yahoo news when they used a Windows Phone in their news article on 10/11/2017!  I just joined the financial world not long ago and the passing of estates is a convoluted and varying process, not only from country to country, but even between our united states. This is very interesting and a little disturbing precedent, although obviously not for our own legal system just yet. Let me illustrate why all of this is very strange and slightly discomforting.

I’m in North Carolina. Where we hate bathrooms and are mixed about our confederate statues. We also have intestate laws, which govern how estates are settled when someone dies. Typically, if you have a will, it follows whatever provisions you have laid out after creditors are satisfied. There are a few exceptions to standard, traditional, made-by-a-lawyer, wills. If a person is on their deathbed and still of sound mind, they can simply attest, or speak, their will in front of witnesses who must later testify that the deceased was actually trying to convey their last will and testament. The other provision is if a letter, handwritten in the deceased hand, is found among the deceased personal effects like a safe deposit box. The important thing about both of these provisions is that they either require testimony by at least two people or must be handwritten in their own hand. Now this is all a very common sense approach to dying and passing on property. This common-sense element is where Australia lost me.

The story goes that Australian man and wife separated, wife goes back to ex-husband leaving current husband incredibly distraught. Husband commits suicide and has no will. Inside the husband’s phone investigators found an unsent text message ‘detailing’ the dissemination of his property. The court ruled this permissible and denied the wife any money or proceeds from the real estate. This is scary because we have absolutely no way of knowing if he actually typed out that text message. Anyone could have typed it. The court argued that because of specific knowledge located within the text message that it could only have been written by the deceased. That is an enormous crevasse to traverse regarding the legal precedent of people dying, especially in an era where people commit suicide or die just before divulging incriminating evidence against politicians seemingly like clockwork. Also, I would never, EVER, commit suicide. Just getting that out there. This is, however, not the strangest news I’ve seen today.

A Windows Phone in a news article about cell phones in 2017? That’s insanity. Yahoo must have missed my article a few days ago. This is the kind of uphill battle Microsoft had to play.  Too bad the news media just got on board considering Windows Phones as something newsworthy following the wake a few of us held for it on Monday.

What do you folks think? Should we start accepting digital and unverifiable documents to act as official wills? Should something like this allow the passing of at least non-real estate property like personal effects? Let us know and remember, I didn’t commit suicide.