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The validity of cell phone wills

On Behalf of | Jul 30, 2018 | Wills

Many people don’t know where they would be on a daily basis without their cell phones. These small devices have become an integral part of many people’s lives in Massachusetts as well as most other states across the country. It isn’t unusual for people to keep personal or important information on their phones, such as bank or credit card apps and accounts, but some people have even started keeping wills on their cell phones

Courts recently decided after two years of appeals that the digital letter found on the cell phone of a 21-year-old suicide victim should be upheld and treated as a last will and testament. The young man left a handwritten note indicating that his last notes and wishes were stored on his phone. These documents included personal notes, such as religious statements and apologies, as well as more formal requests and wishes, such as his preferred funeral arrangements. Most importantly, these notes indicated that the young man wished for his possessions, including a large trust fund, to be given to his half-sister. 

Despite the fact that the cell phone notes did not meet many of the requirement for a typical last will and testament, such as being signed and witnessed, the courts decided to uphold the notes anyway. The 21-year-old’s roommate testified that the notes seemed, in his opinion, to be genuine. This testimony, as well as other details, convinced the courts that there was enough evidence to support the authenticity of the notes found on the cell phone. 

While it may be appealing to many people to store their wills on a cell phone, it may not always be upheld as a legally binding document. Massachusetts residents who wish to discuss creating a will or other estate planning tools could benefit from speaking with an attorney in their area. An attorney may also be able to help his or her client to alter an existing will or estate plan as well. 


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