DSLaw Succession Law Series

WHY DO I NEED TO MAKE A LAST WILL & TESTAMENT? [Understanding the Law of Succession under the Civil Code of the Philippines]

Based on our experience in the law practice, families often fight about inheritance. Some people even wage war against their own flesh and blood over a loved one’s estate ending in protracted legal battles. [1]

You must have read the novel of John Grisham, “The Testament.” Let’s meet the main character, Mr. Troy Phelan, an eccentric, reclusive, ruthless billionaire businessman, who commits suicide. In order to cut his family out of his Last Will and Testament (or simply referred as “Will”), he makes a fake Will a few hours before his suicide, putting his family into that Will. Minutes before his suicide, he shows his lawyer a new Will. This Will leaves only enough money to each of his heirs to pay off their debts, and leaves everything else to Rachel Lane, an illegitimate daughter that none of his family and associates know about. From here, you know that the plot only gets messy along the way.                                                          

To avoid this kind of dispute, the Civil Code of the Philippines encourages testamentary succession. This is in accordance with the principle that the Will is considered the testator speaking after death.[2] It is an act whereby a person is permitted, with the formalities prescribed by law to control to a certain degree the disposition of his estate to take effect after his death.[3] In addition, did you know that executing a Will can be a good tool for estate planning alongside with securing insurance policies or setting up family corporations? We shall be talking more about estate planning in one of our succeeding featured articles in our website at http://www.dellorosaulog.com .

In the execution of a Will, the testator has two options:

a.     Notarial Will – It is an ordinary will which shall comply with requirements of articles 804 to 808 of the Civil Code of the Civil Code of the Philippines.

b.     Holographic Will – It is one which is entirely written, dated and signed by the hand of the testator under article 810 of the Civil Code of the Philippines.


[1] P. Mark Acettura, Blood & Money: Why Families Fight Over Inheritance and What To Do About It, (2011).

[2] Santos v. Manalang, 27 Phil. 209, (1914).

[3] Civil Code, art. 783, (1950).

How Can We Help?

In making a Will, it is advisable to employ an attorney who specializes in Family and Succession Laws. If an attorney drafts a Will and is present at the time of its execution, there is a strong presumption that the will has been regularly made.[1]

At Delloro & Saulog Law Offices, we can assist you in drafting a Will for the settlement of your estate. The preparation of the Will may also indicate your administrator of choice, the preferred legal guardians for your children, and your specific bequests. Yes, making a Will is not just for the rich, it is for everyone. After all, your Will is not just a disposition of your assets. Your Will is your final act and legacy that contains your wishes for your loved ones so that somehow you can still be a part of their lives even when you are already gone.

Let us help you avoid family disputes and ensure that your last wishes are fulfilled.

For more information on how we can help you, book a consultation with us below.

[1] E. Paras, Civil Code of the Philippines Annotated, 57 Am. Jur., Sec. 21, (2008).

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