I am a single parent of four children who are all of age and have families of their own. I am considering executing my last will and testament given that I am already in the late years of my life. I just want to know whether I am bound to give my properties to my children. My concern is that one of my sons tried to dispose of my property without my knowledge. I was just fortunate enough to know of this before the transaction was even completed. He has also not helped me financially since the time I lost my job. These circumstances have caused me great distress for so many years and, to be honest, I am considering not giving him anything should I pass away. Can I legally do this? I hope you can advise me. Thank you and warm regards.
You are the owner of your properties. Accordingly, you may do whatever you please with all of your possessions during your lifetime, save those limitations established under our laws (Article 427, New Civil Code of the Philippines).
For instance, you may make a last will and testament if it is your desire to particularly lay down the manner as to how your properties will be disposed or distributed upon your demise. However, it is specifically provided for under the law that you, being the testator, may not deprive your compulsory heirs of their legitime, unless there is a legal cause to do so, and it may only be effected through a will (Articles 915 and 916 New Civil Code (NCC) of the Philippines). Legitime is defined under the law as that part of the testator’s property which he cannot dispose of because the law has reserved it for his or her compulsory heirs (Article 886, NCC).
Correspondingly, you may only exclude your son from inheriting from you if you disinherit him through your will. But it is essential that the cause/s for his disinheritance is one of those provided under Article 919 of the NCC, to wit: (1) When the 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 the 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 the child or descendant has been convicted of adultery or concubinage with the spouse of the testator; (4) When the 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 the child or descendant leads a dishonorable or disgraceful life; (8) Conviction of a crime which carries with it the penalty of civil interdiction.”
While the fact that your son in the past tried to dispose of your property without your knowledge may not be a legal basis for you to disinherit him, you may use as your basis the fact that he did not aide you when you needed financial support. However, it is necessary for you to establish that his refusal to provide you of financial support is without justifiable cause (Article 919, NCC).
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts 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 email@example.com