Digital wills concept tested in Australia

People have been known to hide their wills in some pretty unusual locations, but concealing one in digital form inside a watch may take some beating.Australian technology lawyer and open source advocate Jeremy Malcolm is testing the validity of digital wills in Australia by placing his last will and testament, complete with digital signatures from himself and two witnesses, on a DUGI watch which includes a 128MB USB memory key.

People have been known to hide their wills in some pretty unusual locations, but concealing one in digital form inside a watch may take some beating.

Australian technology lawyer and open source advocate Jeremy Malcolm is testing the validity of digital wills in Australia by placing his last will and testament, complete with digital signatures from himself and two witnesses, on a DUGI watch which includes a 128MB USB memory key.

While government agencies have made increasing efforts to promote digital signatures as a valid means of transacting business, those efforts haven't yet extended to divvying up your worldly goods amongst the squabbling relatives. "There is no explicit recognition of digital signatures as a way of signing your will," Malcolm told ZDNet Australia.

So will the will be valid? "It relies on section 34 of the Western Australian Wills Act -- other states have similar provisions -- which says: 'A document purporting to embody the testamentary intentions of a deceased person is a will of that person, notwithstanding that it has not been executed in accordance with section 8, if the Supreme Court is satisfied that the deceased intended the document to constitute his will'," explains Malcolm. "Basically, it means that you can get by with a will that isn't executed properly if you can prove that you did intend it as your will."

A longstanding supporter of open source software, Malcolm used GnuPG to encrypt the digital signatures.

"In the event of my being run over by a bus, my will and the three detached digital signatures will be available on my watch," Malcolm wrote on his blog. "That is unless the bus ran over my wrist, in which case all bets are off."

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