My uncle passed away three weeks ago. His wife and two children are now in the process of settling the properties that he left, which includes a house and lot and a bank account. Before he passed away, he used to say that he does not want his eldest son (21 years of age) to inherit anything from him because he gave him so many problems like having vices, not finishing school and getting into so many troubles. In other words, he is a problem child. Will this be enough bases for my aunt and cousin to exclude my other cousin from what he is supposed to inherit under the law? I hope you can shed light on this. Thank you.
Your uncle, being the owner of the properties you mentioned, may exclude any or all of his heirs from inheriting the same by means of disinheritance. However, it should be emphasized that his intention of disinheriting one of his children must have been explicitly manifested during his lifetime through a last will and testament, in consonance with Article 916 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines, which provides that: “Disinheritance can be effected only through a will wherein the legal cause there for shall be specified.”
Apart from the foregoing, the cause/s for which your uncle has intended to disinherit one of his children must be any of those mentioned under the law (Article 916, Id.). As can be gleaned under Article 919 of the said law, only the following are considered as legal causes to disinherit a child or a descendant, whether they are legitimate or illegitimate: 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; 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; When the child or descendant has been convicted of adultery or concubinage with the spouse of the testator; 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; A refusal without justifiable cause to support the parent or ascendant who disinherits such child or descendant; Maltreatment of the testator by word or deed, by the child or descendant; When the child or descendant leads a dishonorable or disgraceful life; Conviction of a crime which carries with it the penalty of civil interdiction.”
Applying the foregoing, your 21-year- old cousin may not be simply excluded from inheriting from the estate left by his father if the latter has not left a last will and testament before he passed away which clearly indicated that the former is being disinherited.
Even assuming that your uncle left a will prior to his death, your cousin may not be disinherited on account of the fact that he has or had vices or did not finish school as any of these does not fall under any of the causes mentioned under Article 919 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines. Neither is “getting into so many troubles” a cause for a child’s disinheritance, unless the same constitutes as maltreatment to his father, leading a dishonorable or disgraceful life, or a conviction of a crime which carries with it the penalty of civil interdiction (Id.).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org