Grounds for disinheriting an heir | Inquirer Business
For Law's Sake

Grounds for disinheriting an heir

/ 02:45 AM January 24, 2023

In our last article, “The easiest way to legally disinherit an heir”, we discussed that a holographic will, which is a will written, dated, and signed entirely by the hand of the testator, would be the easiest way to legally disinherit an heir.

Philippine law reserves a defined portion of the assets in a deceased person’s estate for the compulsory heirs, who are the people related to the deceased or testator and who, without legal grounds such as disinheritance, cannot be excluded or deprived of their share.

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For those who do not wish to pass on their property to a compulsory heir, they must resort to disinheritance. (Art. 886, Civil Code of the Philippines)

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)

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While a person can disinherit an heir by making a will, the grounds to exclude or disinherit someone from receiving assets from the estate must be one of the grounds provided for under the law. Otherwise, the disinheritance is not effective.

Notably, a will, whether it be notarial or holographic, must be approved by a court in a proceeding called probate. In the absence of a will, the estate and its assets will be distributed according to the share provided for under law. (Art. 838)

The grounds for disinheritance differ depending on the kind of compulsory heir to be disinherited.

a.) legitimate and illegitimate children and descendants
b.) legitimate or illegitimate parents and ascendants
c.) the surviving spouse

Grounds to disinherit children, descendants

The following are the grounds to disinherit children and descendants, whether legitimate or illegitimate: (Article 919, Civil Code of the Philippines)

(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 parent or ascendant who disinherits 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
(8) Conviction of a crime which carries with it the penalty of civil interdiction

Grounds to disinherit parents or ascendants

The following are the grounds for disinheritance of parents or ascendants, whether legitimate or illegitimate: (Article 920, Civil Code of the Philippines)

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(1) When the parents have abandoned their children or induced their daughters to live a corrupt or immoral life, or attempted against their virtue
(2) When the parent or ascendant has been convicted of an attempt against the life of the testator, his or her spouse, descendants, or ascendants
(3) When the parent or ascendant has accused the testator of a crime for which the law prescribes imprisonment for six years or more, if the accusation has been found to be false
(4) When the parent or ascendant has been convicted of adultery or concubinage with the spouse of the testator
(5) When the parent or ascendant by fraud, violence, intimidation, or undue influence causes the testator to make a will or to change one already made
(6) The loss of parental authority for causes specified in this Code
(7) The refusal to support the children or descendants without justifiable cause
(8) An attempt by one of the parents against the life of the other, unless there has been a reconciliation between them.

Grounds to disinherit a surviving spouse

The following shall be sufficient causes for disinheriting a spouse: (Article 921, Civil Code of the Philippines)

(1) When the spouse has been convicted of an attempt against the life of the testator, his or her descendants, or ascendants
(2) When the spouse has accused the testator of a crime for which the law prescribes imprisonment of six years or more, and the accusation has been found to be false
(3) When the spouse by fraud, violence, intimidation, or undue influence cause the testator to make a will or to change one already made
(4) When the spouse has given cause for legal separation
(5) When the spouse has given grounds for the loss of parental authority
(6) Unjustifiable refusal to support the children or the other spouse

While the law provides for the grounds for disinheriting an heir, it is important to note that the heir that is excluded from the estate may contest the grounds for disinheritance. Accordingly, the grounds for disinheritance must be clearly stated in the will and if contested by the disinherited heir, the other heirs of the deceased must prove the truth and validity of the grounds. (Art. 916 & 918, Civil Code of the Philippines)

It also happens that sometimes, in the heat of the moment and driven by emotions, a testator will disinherit an heir. There are two ways by which a testator may reverse or recall a disinheritance made in a will.

The first is to make another will recalling the disinheritance and including the previously disinherited heir. The second, is that the law provides that a subsequent reconciliation between the offender, and the offended person deprives the latter of the right to disinherit, and renders ineffectual any disinheritance that may have been made. (Art. 922, Civil Code of the Philippines)

(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.)

READ: The easiest way to legally disinherit an heir

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