My grandmother, who died in London, left a last will and testament, which she allegedly made a day before she died. When we checked the will, however, the signature therein does not appear to be hers and seemed to be made by somebody else. Is it possible to disallow the will because of this? What law will be followed in determining the validity of the will, the law of UK where she died or that of the Philippines, where she has pieces of property? Lady
A last will and testament is an instrument executed by the testator during his lifetime stating how his estate will be distributed among his heirs after his demise. Before the provisions of a will may take effect, it should be necessary that it be duly probated in a competent court in accordance with our Rules of Court (Article 838, Civil Code of the Philippines). The probate of a will is required to prove before the court that the will was duly executed by the testator and that he possessed testamentary capacity during its execution (Edgardo Paras, Civil Code of the Philippines Annotated, Book III (15th Ed.), page 150). A will may be disallowed on any of the following grounds: 1) if not executed and attested as required by law; 2) if the testator was insane or otherwise mentally incapable to make a will at the time of its execution; 3) if it was executed under duress or the influence of fear or threats; 4) if it was procured by due and improper pressure and influence, on the part of the beneficiary, or of some other persons for his benefit; 5) if the signature of the testator was procured by fraud or trick and he did not intend that the instrument should be his will at the time of fixing his signature thereto (Section 9, Rule 75, Rules of Court).
Based on the foregoing, the will of your grandmother may be disallowed if you can duly prove before a competent court that the signature appearing in her last will and testament is not hers. The provisions of your grandmother’s last will and testament are considered to be her last wishes sans instructions on how her estate will be distributed. As such, the signature therein should be hers, not that of someone pretending to be her. The making of a will is strictly a personal act that cannot be left in whole or in part to the discretion of a third person, or accomplished through the instrumentality of an agent or attorney (Article 784, Civil Code of the Philippines [CCP] ).
As to your second question, since the will of your grandmother was executed in London, the law therein shall be applied in determining the forms and solemnities to be followed in its execution (Article 17, CCP). On the intrinsic validity of the will such as the order of succession, amount of successional rights and the validity of the testamentary dispositions, the law that should be applied is your grandmother’s national law (Article 16, CCP). Hence, Philippine law will be applied only if your grandmother is a Filipino when she died. Otherwise, the law of her nationality at the time of her death will be applied even if she left pieces of property in the Philippines.
Please be reminded that this opinion is solely based on your narration of facts and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary if other facts are added or elaborated. We hope that we were able to address your concern.