Wills have not changed much since Roman times and they are still strictly formal legal affairs that have to meet certain prerequisites in order to be valid. Otherwise, they will be either automatically null or voidable. It is said that the amplified formalism promotes testamentary intent, ensures reliable evidence of testator’s wishes and reinforces the gravity of testation. However, it seems that, as of late, formalism sometimes clashes with the real intent of the decedent.
Our society has changed tremendously and today we are able to do things that, even ten years ago, seemed impossible. Technology has affected all areas of our lives, therefore it is not surprising that people are making (or at least, attempting to make) testamentary dispositions using that same technology. In most countries, wills made with the help of digital technology would not have any effect. However, some countries have adopted rules that allow judges to consider documents that do not meet all of the formal requirements needed for wills, to be valid and have effect. By doing this, they have opened the door to creation of new types of wills, made with the help of digital technology, that have never existed before – i.e. wills created with the help of smartphones, cameras or computers. Wills made with the help of digital technology are extremely informal but nonetheless; they purport testamentary intentions of the people who made them. This presentation will provide examples of certain entities that have been recognized to be wills, regardless of them not fulfilling necessary requirements pertaining to their form. These examples are mostly from Australia, but there are also a couple from the U.S.