It used to be the case that a will had to meet strict criteria to be considered valid.   However in Queensland, since 2006 any document which purports to state the testamentary intentions of a person may be declared to be a valid will by the Supreme Court. 

One of the most notable cases to date using this power has been Re Yu [2013] QSC 322 in which the Queensland Supreme Court declared that a series of notes created on an iPhone were the deceased’s last will.  For whatever reason, Mr Yu had left notes on his iPhone that were upheld as his last wishes.  This required the Court to declare that these notes could be regarded as his last will.

However that was not the end of the court appearances regarding this informal “iPhone” will.  Unfortunately Mr Yu used ambiguous language to describe a gift of “the remainder of my cash” to be divided amongst five beneficiaries.   Mr Yu was a young man and unsurprisingly the largest asset of his estate was the life insurance component of his superannuation death benefit.    Perhaps predictably, the beneficiaries were unable to agree whether the superannuation life insurance proceeds were part of the gift of “cash” or part of the residue of the estate.  

So, in late 2015 the executor was forced to make another application to the Queensland Supreme Court for an interpretation of the meaning of the words “the remainder of my cash” and to decide whether the superannuation life insurance proceeds fell within that meaning.   In Yu v Yu & Ors [2015] QSC 373 the Court ultimately decided that the proceeds were not part of “the remainder of my cash” and should be distributed to the remainder beneficiary.  Costs of the application were awarded out of the estate.


To date Mr Yu’s iPhone will has resulted in two applications to the Queensland Supreme Court.   Both of these cases highlight the need for proper estate planning.  In Mr Yu’s case a professionally drafted will may have cost around $1,000 and would have avoided the issues that arose in both applications to the Queensland Supreme Court.  This is a small price when compared to the many thousands of dollars which have likely been expended in the two Court applications regarding his iPhone Will, not to mention the heartache caused to Mr Yu’s loved ones by the delay in finalising the estate.