The Supreme Court heard that Bradley John MacDonald committed suicide in September 2010. The 24-year-old left a note to his mother Rosemary, declaring she was his sole beneficiary.
The note, tendered in evidence to the court, appeared to change his intentions declared in a will he wrote two years earlier, so his family had to go to court for a ruling before his estate could be finalised.
Supreme Court judge Richard White ruled on November 7 that probate could be granted in Mr MacDonald’s estate because he was “satisfied that the deceased intended the paragraphs of the suicide note under the heading “Instructions for distribution of my goods” to form his will.”
Suicide notes are not automatically regarded as wills under the law. A will must be a clear expression of a person’s final wishes and should be signed by them, they should also be witnessed.
If the note had not been declared to be a will, Mr MacDonald would have been found to have died “intestate”.
The will he wrote in 2008 was held by the court to be invalid because he married later that year.
The court heard that If he was found intestate, his estranged wife Amy would have inherited all of his belongings.
In his suicide note, Mr MacDonald asked his estranged wife Amy to not make a claim for part of his estate.
In evidence given to the court, Amy said that following his death she agreed not to make a claim on the estate as part of an agreement with Mr MacDonald’s mother Rosemary.
Justice White said it was fortunate the family had been able to settle the estate without further litigation.
“Litigation for a family provision order in relation to the deceased’s estate would be a great evil.
“The circumstances of the deceased’s death must have been the cause of great distress for all concerned, and it would not be in anyone’s interest for a claim for a family provision order to be made.”
Suicide note declared a valid will by court
November 15, 2012
The Daily Telegraph