Legal Effect of Virtual Will
  • Virtual will can not be identified as self-written will as stipulated in Inheritance Law
     
    Opinion from Tribunal I of the Supreme Court: creation of a will is a formal juristic act. Due to the lack of vital elements of “be written by the testator him/herself, bear the testator’s signature, and be marked with year, month, date”, the so called “virtual will” that is saved in the computer in the form of “Posthumous Arrangements” can not be identified as self-written will as stipulated in Inheritance Law.
     
    Hao Ran, father of Hao Lianyi, deceased in October 2009. Subsequently, Hao Lianyi and her brother and sister discussed about the division of their father’s inheritance. The three parties reached the following agreement: the three-bedroom apartment in the name of Hao Ran to be given to Hao Lianyi and Hao Lianyi to give her brother and sister each RMB200,000. Hao Lianyi’s  brother and sister may choose whatever they want from the remaining household appliances, furniture and other assets; whatever left after the brother and sister’s selection shall belong to Hao Lianyi. After signature and before she paid her brother and sister, Hao Lianyi found a “Posthumous Arrangements” document in her father’s computer the key content of which read as follows: “I have been sick for four years, thanks to my little daughter Hao Lianyi’s devoted care taking, I am able to live for more years. Recently I have been feeling a constant decline in health. Thus, while still having clear mind and full consciousness, I would like to make posthumous arrangements as follows: 1. A simple funeral, only notify my younger brother and my children. My ashes to be buried together with those of my wife. 2. My assets are limited to only the apartment I am living in, the furniture and a little savings. The savings has been given to my younger daughter Hao Lianyi and can be used to pay for the funeral and the cost to bury my ashes with my wife’s. 3. The elder daughter was adopted by my wife and I. We have brought her up to adulthood and haven’t demanded her to carry out care-taking duties. A gold bracelet left by my wife could be given to her as memorabilia. I take great comfort in that my elder son Hao Lianqing has prosperous career and is quite well off financially. He may choose something in the household as memorabilia.”  Hao Lianyi thought this was will left by her father and thus notified her brother and sister. Hao Lianqing accepted that the words recorded in the computer were expression of his father’s true intention and chose the family album and some of Hao Ran’s clothes as memorabilia. He also indicated that he would not take the RMB200,000 from his little sister. However, Hao Lianxiang held that, her father had left no will before death and neither had he mentioned that she was adopted. The words in the computer couldn’t be proved to have been written by her father Hao Ran. The father’s assets should be divided according to legal inheritance procedures. Therefore, Hao Lianxiang filed law suite with the court against Hao Lianyi, requesting to inherit her father Hao Ran’s assets according to law. 

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