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Sorry, lazy people: You can't just change your will in a text message

“On second thought, I’m leaving all the shoulders I cut out of my shirts to the mailman.”
Photo: Christian Vierig (Getty Images)

This modern world has made the smartphone a hub for all of your needs: Banking, shopping, health care—all of it can be managed with a few swipes into the digital ether. Unfortunately, your eventual death will be all too material, and requires some tangible paperwork. What a drag.

At least, that’s the determination made by a French court last week, according to the BBC. The case involved a man going through a divorce who texted to his sister telling her that he wanted their mother to get a share of his estate upon his death, rather than his soon-to-be-ex-wife. The man took his own life in 2016, at which time the family solicitor (the European term for a lawyer specializing in family law) responsible for distributing his estate began to disburse his holdings. And perhaps because it was sent in the same medium most of us use to say, “last night sucked lol no more tequila,” the solicitor decided to ignore the text in question, claiming it had no legal value.


This ended up in court because the mother contested the action, only to have her arguments about the validity of the texts rejected. “A will can only be valid if it has been written by hand, dated and signed,” the court ruled, thereby throwing a real wrench in the works of lazy people planning to simply text, “Todd gets my comics, but the issue of X-Force #1 should be burned” upon their deathbed. The court stressed this was to help prevent the risk of “forgery and mistakes,” and not, presumably, because it was totally on the side of the ex-wife in the divorce.

While this should serve as a useful reminder that legal documents need to be verified as, well, legal, it doesn’t negate the fact that you can still break up with someone over text. It’s shitty, but all your friends have ruled it a regrettably valid way to get rid of Denise.

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Alex McLevy

Alex McLevy is a writer and editor at The A.V. Club, and would kindly appreciate additional videos of robots failing to accomplish basic tasks.