The easiest way to legally disinherit an heir | Inquirer Business
For Law's Sake

The easiest way to legally disinherit an heir

/ 08:03 AM January 17, 2023

Hindi kita bibigyan ng mana!”

Whether in movies or in reality, you have probably heard of or witnessed a parent threatening to disinherit their child. The question is, is such a declaration valid and binding?


The answer is: No.

Philippine law strictly provides for specific requirements for disinheritance in order to be valid and effective. This may be because our laws also provide limitations on one’s ability to choose who receives their assets and properties after death.


It may then be significant for one to know what would be the easiest way to disinherit an heir.

The answer to that question is a holographic will made by the deceased, referred to as the “decedent” or “testator.” This is the easiest and fastest way to disinherit a compulsory or mandatory heir.

Compulsory heirs

When a person dies, according to Philippine law,  the decedent’s properties, assets, and liabilities are gathered into what is referred to as the estate.

The estate belongs to the deceased’s compulsory heirs. There is a small portion of the estate called the free portion, where the deceased can choose, before death via a will, to give to other persons who are not compulsory heirs.

The compulsory heirs are the children, legitimate, illegitimate and adopted, and descendants, parents and ascendants, and the surviving spouse. (Arellano, et al. v. Pascual, et. al., G.R. No. 189776, December 15, 2010)

Simply put, a person cannot exclude a compulsory heir from inheriting without specific grounds and following the requirement for disinheritance under the law.

Requirements for disinheritance

By now, it becomes clear that it is not so easy to disinherit a compulsory heir. A disinheritance must:


1. be made in a written document which is the will
2. the will must state the exact ground for disinheritance
3. the ground for disinheritance must be one of those grounds provided for in the law
4. disinheritance must be unconditional and total
5. the ground for disinheritance must be true. If the disinherited heir denies or contests the ground upon which they are disinherited, the burden of proving the truth of the grounds rests upon the other heirs.

(Articles 916 to 923, Civil Code of the Philippines)

The holographic will

The law provides that a disinheritance must be contained in a written document which is the Last Will & Testament of the deceased.

Our laws provides for the notarial will and the holographic will.

A notarial will, as the name suggests, is a document that must be acknowledged before a Notary Public. This kind of will has more formal and other requirements which are to be strictly complied with. Since such a will is usually prepared with the assistance of a lawyer, the courts are strict when it comes to non-compliance with the requirements of law.

On the other hand, a holographic will is a written document which is 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. This kind of will is usually made by the decedent/ testator without the assistance of a lawyer. (Article 810, Civil Code of the Philippines)

Clients would often ask how to write a holographic will and I would explain that it is actually very simple. The case of Dy Yieng Seangio vs. Hon. Reyes, Alfredo D. Seangio, et al. (G.R. Nos. 140371-72, November 27, 2006) is instructive on how to disinherit an heir and how simple it is to make a valid holographic will.

In the case, Segundo Seangio left a holographic will disinheriting his eldest son, Alfredo, as follows:

Holographic will

In this case, the holographic will and the disinheritance was challenged by the excluded son, and his challenge was denied by the Supreme Court.

In upholding the holographic will of Segundo and disinheritance of Alfredo, the court declared that the Kasulatan ng Pag-Alis ng Mana clearly shows the intention of Segundo to exclude his son Alfredo as an heir to his estate.

The reasons given by Segundo for the disinheritance qualifies as maltreatment of Segundo by his son, one of the grounds for disinheritance of a child or descendant under Article 919 of the Civil Code.

While the Kasulatan ng Pag-Alis ng Mana, at first glance, may come across as merely a disinheritance instrument and not a disposition of his estate, it does conform to the formalities of a holographic will as defined under the law. It is written, dated, and signed by the hand of Segundo himself, and there was a clear intention to dispose of his property and estate after his death.

Accordingly, while the holographic will might not have made an affirmative disposition of Segundo’s properties, the disinheritance of Alfredo itself was considered as an act of disposition, as it resulted in the disposition of the property of Segundo to those other heirs who would succeed in the absence of Alfredo.

The will of Segundo did not exclude all other compulsory heirs. The mention of the name Virginia, his daughter, was made only as a witness to the altercation between him and his son.

The Supreme Court emphasized that it is fundamental in succession that the courts should favor an interpretation that will give effect to the intention and will of the testator, especially in cases involving holographic wills, which is usually prepared by one who is not learned in the law and should be construed more liberally than notarial wills drawn up by experts.

As to the grounds provided for in law for the disinheritance of an heir, we shall take this up in our next article.

So there you have it. If you want to disinherit someone on valid grounds, it will only take a few minutes to write a holographic will and disinherit an heir on a piece of paper.

(The author, Atty. John Philip C. Siao, is a practicing lawyer and founding Partner of Tiongco Siao Bello & Associates Law Offices, teaches law at the MLQU School of Law, and an Arbitrator of the Construction Industry Arbitration Commission of the Philippines. He may be contacted at [email protected] The views expressed in this article belong to the author alone.)

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TAGS: disinheritance, For Law's sake, holographic will
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