Video Will Admitted in NSW to Probate

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Justice Lindsay of the Supreme Court of NSW, in the case of Re Estate of Wai Fun CHAN, on 7th August 2015 admitted a video made by a dying Chinese woman, to Probate. The 85 year old widow had made a formal written will two days earlier with her Solicitor, leaving her estate equally between her 8 children. She later decided to leave a larger share to her two children who were resident in NSW, and therefore made a short video, on a digital DVD format, which recorded her testamentary intentions.

While it was not contested by any of the beneficiaries, the video did not meet the formal requirements for a testamentary instrument. Despite not being in writing and not being witnessed in writing by two witnesses who also witness each other and the testator execute the will, the video was admitted as an “informal will”. This was the first video admitted to Probate in NSW as an informal will.

Despite this result, His Honour made comment about the 3 year delay in obtaining Probate, the numerous requisitions issued by the Court Registry, and the legal costs incurred in obtaining a Grant of Probate. It appears clear from this decision that in every case where possible, a visit to a Solicitor, for a properly prepared written will, that complies with the formal requirements of the Succession Act would be a cheaper and better alternative.

Ron Brideaux
11th August 2015