How a Recording can be Classified as a Valid Will

Posted 23-07-2020
Written by admin 101

A voice recording on an iPhone can be classed as a Will under certain circumstances, our Wills & Estates Division explains: 

A voice recording on an iPhone can be classed as a Will under certain circumstances. AIMEE LANYON from RMB Lawyers explains: 

In NSW, there are two formal requirements for a Will:

  1. The Will must be written or typed; and
  2. It must be signed by the Will maker in the presence of two individual witnesses.

The law also allows for “informal Wills” to be considered as an individual’s final testamentary intention if the Will maker’s desire to dispose of assets is clearly expressed but the strict formal requirements have not been adhered to.

RMB Lawyers have dealt with a variety of informal Wills. Notable ones include a note on a napkin, scribblings on paper around the home and recently, a voice recording on a mobile phone.

In this interesting Estate matter, the deceased recorded a short message on his mobile phone identifying the family members he wanted to receive his assets when he passed. Included in the recording was reference to specific property which the deceased had an interest in.

RMB Lawyers worked on behalf of the beneficiaries to transcribe the voice recording and prove its validity to the Supreme Court.

Accordingly, we were successful in obtaining a Grant of Letters of Administration from the Court, confirming the voice recording would be formally recognised as the final Will and Testament of the deceased. This therefore has allowed our clients, the beneficiaries of the Estate, to access their inheritance.

Features of this specific voice recording Will, which assisted our client’s case included, among other things:

  • The beneficiary’s names in the recording were the only individuals in the family who stood to inherit the Estate.
  • The deceased’s voice was recognisable to the intended beneficiaries.
  • No other voice could be heard in the recording.
  • The beneficiaries were able to identify the mobile phone as being that of the deceased.
  • No other formal or informal Will was located in the deceased’s possessions.

In this specific matter, the answer to whether a voice recording on a iPhone can be a Will was “yes”. 

It is not ideal to create an informal Will, as it requires additional work on behalf of the friends and family to give effect to those wishes. However, in some circumstances it is possible for a voice recording to be a Will.

If you don't have a Will or need to update your current Will, our Wills & Estate team are here to assist in answering any questions simply by contacting us, We'll be able to help you via a quick phone call, or ask us a question via email.