Good will hunting

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Oct 12, 2017
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Will Aid, the charity that promotes solicitors as will-writing experts in the UK, are unlikely to be thrilled by a case in Australia, writes Linda Tsang.

The Brisbane Supreme Court has accepted an unsent text message on a dead man’s mobile phone as an official will. The 55-year-old man had composed a text message addressed to his brother, in which he gave “all that I have” to him and the dead man’s nephew.

The court ruled that the wording of the text indicated that the man intended it to act as his will. In the message the man gave details of how to access his bank account and where he had hidden money in his house.
Under the Will Aid scheme – which runs in November – solicitors waive their fee for writing a basic will and invite clients to make a voluntary donation to Will Aid, which benefits a number of charities.

Down Under there is a history of unusual wills getting the nod from judges. In 2013 a will was accepted in Queensland that included a DVD labelled simply “my will”. Surely it is only a matter of time before a punter creates a series of emojis depicting the deceased and the beneficiaries.

Last dinner orders at the Bar

Wigs will be spinning on traditionalist heads around the inns of court as the barristers’ regulator has suggested ditching one of the profession’s traditions – dining. 

For hundreds of years prospective barristers have been forced to sit through a dozen or so rubber chicken meals with qualified lawyers and the inns’ bencher supremos. The rationale is that scoffing public school-style nosh and passing the port instils professional collegiality.

But the Bar Standards Board has committed near heresy by suggesting that the tradition is somewhat outdated. It also claims that knocking the dining requirement on the head will make qualifying cheaper for pupils as there is no such thing as a free dinner.

Over the last few days, the regulator has had the temerity to describe the dinners as being “potentially intimidating” – to which some Bar stalwarts would doubtless respond: “That’s the bloody point.”

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