The High Court has determined in the particular circumstances of a recent case that an unsigned letter amounted to a valid Will.

The deceased had been discussing changes to his Will in the months leading up to his death.

Shortly before his father’s death the deceased’s son sent an email to the deceased’s solicitor containing a letter that purported to be the Will of the deceased.

It was included in this letter that the deceased’s property be transferred into a trust upon his death. This trust did not yet exist, and needed to be formally established before the Will could be properly signed and witnessed.

To set up the trust a trust deed needed to be signed by the chosen trustees. The last required signature on the trust deed was from the deceased’s niece. The deceased died before the niece signed the deed.

The deceased’s son brought a claim in the High Court seeking to validate the unsigned letter as the last Will of the deceased.

The Court decided to validate the letter as the deceased’s last Will, as it was clear that the contents of the document reflected his testamentary intentions.

The Court also decided that the testamentary intention of the deceased did not change between the time that the “Will letter” was produced and his death.

As well as this, the Court appointed the niece of the deceased as an executor of the estate as this was clearly his intention, based on statements the deceased made prior to his death.

If there is confusion around the validity of a Will, or your entitlements under a Will, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.

Jon Beck & Matthew Binnie