A spouse can be disinherited

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
Is a spouse considered a legal heir of his/her spouse? Are there instances when a surviving spouse may not be entitled to an inheritance from his/her deceased spouse?
Jake

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Dear Jake,
The widow or widower is one of the compulsory heirs enumerated in Article 887 of the Civil Code of the Philippines. As such, he/she shall be entitled to a share in the estate of his/her deceased spouse pursuant to the provisions of the law.

However, there are instances when a spouse may be validly disinherited by the other spouse. These are provided in Article 921 of the said law, to wit:

Art. 921. The following shall be sufficient causes for disinheriting a spouse:

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 for six years or more and the accusation has been found to be false;

3. When the spouse by fraud, violence, intimidation, or undue influence causes the testator to make a will or 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.

The disinheritance of a spouse can be effected only through a will wherein the legal cause therefore shall be specified (Article 916, Civil Code of the Philippines). It must be expressly made and the heir to be disinherited must be clearly identified so that there will be no doubt as to who is being disinherited. The disinheritance should also be total or complete. This means that the heir should be disinherited from everything and not just in any portions of the estate.

The spouse disinherited, however, shall not be precluded from contesting or denying his/her disinheritance. In such case, it shall be the obligation of the other heirs of the testator to prove the truth of the cause for the disinheritance (Article 917, Ibid.). If the truth of the cause is not proved, the institution of the heir insofar as it may prejudice the spouse disinherited shall be annulled. However, the devises and legacies and other testamentary dispositions shall be valid to such an extent as will not impair the legitime (Article 918, Ibid.)

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts that you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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