• Handwritten will needs no witnesses; it must be signed and dated

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    Dear PAO,
    I’m a senior citizen and I believe I don’t have much time to live though I still have my full senses. I have some children left and I’d like to prepare my last will and testament so I can knowingly distribute my remaining properties to them. Is there any particular form that I have to follow in making my last will and testament? Can I leave a handwritten last will? If so, how? I hope you can enlighten me on how I can go about it. Hope for your help.
    Martha

    Dear Martha,
    With regard to your desire to prepare your last will and testament, you have to consider the two ways of preparing it. It can be through an attested will or through a holographic will.

    Generally as an overview, an attested will is a form of will which requires your signature as the testator, together with the signature of at least three witnesses who shall attest the execution of the will, which then must be notarized (Articles 805 and 806, Civil Code of the Philippines). A holographic will on the other hand, requires that it should be entirely made in your handwriting which must also include the date of its execution and your signature without the need for witnesses in its execution (Article 810, Ibid). In both cases, it is required that the will must be written and executed in a language or dialect known to the testator (Article 804, Id.)

    In detail, the Civil Code of the Philippines requires the following for the preparation of an attested will:

    “Article 805. Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself or by the testator’s name written by some other person in his presence, and by his express direction, and attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another.

    The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will, shall also sign, as aforesaid, each and every page thereof, except the last, on the left margin, and all the pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page.

    The attestation shall state the number of pages used upon which the will is written, and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page thereof, or caused some other person to write his name, under his express direction, in the presence of the instrumental witnesses, and that the latter witnessed and signed the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another.

    If the attestation clause is in a language not known to the witnesses, it shall be interpreted to them. (n)

    Article 806. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. The notary public shall not be required to retain a copy of the will, or file another with the office of the Clerk of Court.”

    For the holographic will, the law requires that:

    “Article 810. A person may execute a holographic will which must be entirely written, dated, and signed by the hand of the testator himself. It is subject to no other form, and may be made in or out of the Philippines, and need not be witnessed” (Civil Code of the Philippine).

    Between the two ways of executing a will, you may choose whichever is more convenient and appropriate to your needs and situation. Note, however, that in order to ensure the validity of your will, you have to follow the abovementioned requirements as provided by law for the preparation of a will.

    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.

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