Informal wills: a video recording

In the Estate of Leslie Wayne Quinn (deceased) 2019 QSC 99 the Supreme Court of Queensland was required to consider whether a video recording on an iphone labelled by the deceased as his Will would qualify as an informal Will.

Step 1: did the deceased intend that this video should reflect his testamentary intentions?

The deceased recorded the following relevant points:

  • It’s Sunday, 26th oft June, 2011
  • This is the, my last Will I am making by video.
  • In the event of my death I would like all my goods…..to go to my wife Leanne Quinn.
  • So in essence I am leaving everything to my wife.
  • As far as I, what I request for my funeral I would like direct cremation.
  • That I think is basically it, so this is my only Will. I may make a copy of this but it’ll be a written copy of this but it will be exactly the same as this.

The Court determined that the video did in fact embody the testamentary intentions of the deceased in circumstances where the formal requirements did not accord with the legislation as to what qualified as a document.  The legislation required that a Will be embodied within a written document and signed in the presence of 2 witnesses.

The facts of the case are that the iphone was password protected and non one was therefore able to access the contents of the iphone.  The testator had however transferred the contents of the iphone to his computer and the recording was available on the hard drive of the computer.  The recording on the hard drive of the computer was transferred to a CD which was produced to the Court.

In essence the deceased made it quite clear that:

  • That this was his last Will
  • He made a disposition of his estate to take place after his death
  • He understood that the disposal of his assets was to take place following his death
  • He made arrangements for his funeral
  • He made a firm decision to leave his estate to his wife

The court noted the following pertinent facts:

  • The deceased was articulate and bright, articulate and alert
  • The recording had been made by the deceased during a break at work
  • The terms in the recorded message were rational
  • Even though the deceased suffered from depression this recording was not affected by his depression and in fact was made some 4 years before he took his own life
  • The deceased knew the nature of the act of creating a Will
  • The Will was clearly dated

Usually a written Will revokes all former Wills.  In this case there was no evidence that the deceased had ever made a previous Will so this fact of revocation was not really a relevant factor

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