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The father strikes back

Thirdy died rich. Prior to his death, however, he executed a one-page holographic will.

In the said will, he disinherited his son, Uno, because the latter (a) disdained his honor in front of the members of their family; (b) besmirched his honor and reputation in the business community as he refused to settle his loan with a bank where he was a valuable client; and (c) stole his business clients from him. He then named his daughter, Nia, as the executor of the will.

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Nia then file a petition for the probate of the holographic will of Thirdy. Uno moved for the dismissal of the probate proceedings primarily on the ground that the document purporting to be the holographic will of their father does not contain any disposition of the estate of the deceased and thus does not meet the definition of a will under Article 783 of the Civil Code. He further argued that the will only shows an alleged act of disinheritance by the decedent and nothing else.

Q: What would make a disinheritance valid?

A: For disinheritance to be valid, Article 916 of the Civil Code requires that the same must be effected through a will wherein the legal cause shall be specified. With regard to the reasons for the disinheritance that were stated by Thirdy in his document, the incidents, taken as a whole, can be considered a form of maltreatment of Thirdy by Uno, and that the matter presents a sufficient cause for the disinheritance of a child or descendant under Article 919 of the Civil Code, to wit: Art. 919.

FEATURED STORIES

The following shall be sufficient causes for the disinheritance of children and descendants, legitimate as well as illegitimate:

  1. When a child or descendant has been found guilty of an attempt against the life of the testator, his or her spouse, descendants or ascendants;
  2. When a child or descendant has accused the testator of a crime, for which the law prescribes imprisonment for six years or more, if the accusation has been found groundless;
  3. When a child or descendant has been convicted of adultery or concubinage with the spouse of the testator;
  4. When a child or descendant by fraud, violence, intimidation or undue influence causes the testator to make a will or to change one already made;
  5. A refusal without justifiable cause to support the parents or ascendant who disinherit such child or descendant;
  6. Maltreatment of the testator by word or deed, by the child or descendant;
  7. When a child or descendant leads a dishonorable or disgraceful life; and
  8. Conviction of a crime which carries with it the penalty of civil interdiction.

Q: What is a holographic will?

A: A holographic will, as provided under Article 810 of the Civil Code, must be entirely written, dated and signed by the hand of the testator himself. It is subject to no other form, and may be made in or out of the Philippines, and need not be witnessed.

Q: Is Thirdy’s will containing only a disinheritance clause a valid holographic will?

A: Yes. Thirdy’s document, although it may initially come across as a mere disinheritance instrument, conforms to the formalities of a holographic will prescribed by law. It is written, dated and signed by the hand of Thirdy himself. An intent to dispose mortis causa can be clearly deduced from the terms of the instrument, and while it does not make an affirmative disposition of the latter’s property, the disinheritance of Uno, nonetheless, is an act of disposition in itself. In other words, the disinheritance results in the disposition of the property of the testator Thirdy in favor of those who would succeed in the absence of Uno.

The document was intended by Thirdy to be his last testamentary act and was executed by him in accordance with law in the form of a holographic will. Unless the will is probated, the disinheritance cannot be given effect.

Considering that the questioned document is Thirdy’s holographic will, and that the law favors testacy over intestacy, the probate of the will cannot be dispensed with. Article 838 of the Civil Code provides that no will shall pass either real or personal property unless it is proved and allowed in accordance with the Rules of Court. Thus, unless the will is probated, the right of a person to dispose of his property may be rendered nugatory. (Source: Seangio vs. Reyes, G.R. Nos. 140371-72, Nov. 27, 2006)

Ma. Soledad Deriquito-Mawis Dean, College of Law, Lyceum of the Philippines University; Chairman, Philippine Association of Law Schools; founder of Mawis Law Office

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TAGS: Business, column, disinheritance, holographic will, property, Property Rules
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