Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Friday, November 16, 2012

Suicide Note Declared To Be A Valid Will

WillsIn Sydney, Australia, the Supreme Court heard a case where the testator made his mother the sole beneficiary of his estate through a note that he wrote before he committed suicide. Bradley John MacDonald wrote a note that apparently changed the will that he wrote two years earlier. Because of the sudden change, "his family had to go to a court for a ruling before his estate could be finalised." 

In its ruling, Judge Richard White held that probate could move forward because the note sufficiency showed that MacDonald intended several part of his suicide note to change his will. Judge White noted that MacDonald placed the paragraphs that were to form his will under the heading, "Instructions for distribution of my goods." It is important to note that suicide notes are not automatically considered valid wills, unless they are a clear expression of the testator's final wishes, signed by the testator, and witnessed. This ruling is important because had the court ruled against admission of note to probate, MacDonald would have died intestate and his estranged wife, Amy, would have received his estate. Luckily for the estate, Amy agreed with MacDonald's mother to forgo making a claim on the estate. 

See Vanda Carson, Suicide Note Declared A Valid Will By Court, The Telegraph, Nov. 15, 2012.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.


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