Video will valid but comes with warning
THE NSW Supreme Court recently accepted - for the first time - a video recording made by a dying woman changing key elements of a written will she had made just days earlier.
However, the judgement contained a warning for other people thinking of making a video of their wishes rather than producing a properly witnessed written will, noting that it had caused legal uncertainty and delayed the distribution of assets by several years.
The matter involved an 85year-old widow who died in 2012. Several months before her death, she made a formal written will in her solicitor’s office dividing her estate, worth almost $1 million, among her eight children.
Initially she wanted to leave a greater share to two of her daughters who lived
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Two days later she changed her mind. Sitting in her kitchen, and assisted by the other daughter who stood to receive a larger share of the estate, she recorded a video outlining the changes.
She was warned the video might not be considered a valid will but persisted, wanting to make her intentions known directly to her children following her death.
The court admitted the video as an informal will, but only after ensuring there was no room for doubt that it was voluntarily made, and there were no ob- jections from any of the children who would receive a smaller share of the estate.
While the deceased woman’s final wishes were eventually granted, the process of obtaining probate — which was required before her assets could be distributed - were much more time consuming and costly than needed to be the case.
Had she returned to her solicitor’s office and updated the written will, the process could have been completed in as little as four to six weeks and removed grounds for disappointed beneficiaries to challenge the validity of the will.