I have an ungrateful niece who badly wants a share in the property of her father, who is my brother, even though she is a cunning and irresponsible daughter. Our problems with my niece started when she had the gall to accuse my brother of molesting her. Her claim was later found to be nothing more than a baseless ploy to extract money from him, and they were never able to reconcile since then. When her father got sick, she left the country and did not even visit him, or asked about his condition. Now that her father is terminally ill, she interestingly went back to him to allegedly apologize for everything. She is also trying to convince him to include her in his last will and testament.
Considering the things she did to her father, I think it’s only right for my brother to not just leave out his daughter in his last will and testament, but also to make sure she does not receive anything from his property when he dies. My brother and I talked about this, and he insists that her daughter receives nothing from him when he dies. Is this possible and what does my brother have to do to make sure of this? We will appreciate any advice from you. Thanks.
Basing on the details you narrated, it appears that your brother has a legal recourse to make sure that her daughter does not receive anything from his property when he dies. As a general rule, children are considered as compulsory heirs of a decedent (Art. 884, Civil Code of the Philippines). This means that when a person dies, his children as heirs have rights to claim their legitime, their share in the estate of their parents.
There are instances provided by law, however, when compulsory heirs can be banned from getting inheritance from their parents. According to Article 919 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, the following grounds shall be sufficient causes for the disinheritance of children and descendants, whether legitimate or illegitimate:
“(1) When a child or descendant has been found guilty of an attempt against the life of the testator, his or her spouse, descendant 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.” (Emphasis supplied)
It can be seen from this cited provision that the groundless accusation by a compulsory heir of a crime against a testator that carries a penalty of at least six (6) years is a legal ground for disinheriting the accusing compulsory heir. This provision squarely applies to the details you have provided considering that your niece accused her father of molesting her, which is a serious crime that carries a penalty of more than six (6) years’ imprisonment and that this accusation was, according to you, later on found to be baseless. From the aforementioned details, your brother has a legal ground to disinherit her daughter to deprive her of her share in his estate when dies.
Please note, however, that the mere existence of a cause to disinherit a compulsory heir will not automatically cause the disinheritance of the heir. The law still requires your brother, as the testator, to specifically mention his intention to disinherit her daughter in his last will and testament. Along with this requirement is the need to expressly mention the specific ground for the disinheritance in the document. (Art. 916, Id.) And after the probate of his last will and testament that contains the provision on disinheritance, your brother will be able to legally put in effect his intention to disinherit his daughter.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org