Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Article on Probating an iPhone Will

IphoneRobert L. Moshman (Attorney, New York and New Jersey) recently published an article in The Estate Analyst entitled, Probating an iPhone Will, The Estate Analyst, (Mar. 2014). An excerpt from the article is below:

Our existence in this digitized era is reduced to banality what with ephemeral electronic communications and ethereal files stored in clouds. Can we also expect to shuffle off this mortal coil with a final shout-out to the Twitterverse: “Bad vibe, signing off @cruelworld #worstdayever?”  

Alas, for Karter Yu,  there would be no formal estate planning, no growing old with the security of well-crafted documents, no comfort, and no time. Driven by whatever desperation, he communicated his farewells in a series of emails and text messages from his iPhone, wrote a message on the phone that he referred to as his Will, and then committed suicide.

Our old-school colleagues at the Bar embellish upon the sanctity of duly witnessed and notarized Wills and guard against tampering or forgery with raised seals, wax seals, ribbons, specialty papers, special fonts, and even rivets! Is the common law of probate prepared to acknowledge an unwitnessed iPhone document as a valid Will?


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