Joint will executed here or abroad not valid

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Dear PAO,
I would like to ask if the last will and testament made by my parents is valid here in the Philippines if it was made abroad. They made a joint will which indicated how they want to distribute their properties after their death. They are still Filipino citizens but they stay abroad most of the time. Can their last will be valid here in the Philippines? Hoping for your advice.
Frankie

Dear Frankie,
The answer to your query is provided for by our laws in succession in our Civil Code, which states that:

“Article 815. When a Filipino is in a foreign country, he is authorized to make a will in any of the forms established by the law of the country in which he may be. Such will may be probated in the Philippines.”

Thus, it is clear that a last will executed by Filipinos abroad can be valid here in the Philippines if made in the manner provided for by the country where they made the will. However, you mentioned that your Filipino parents executed a joint will. If this means that they executed together a will in one document, containing both of their wills as one, then the abovementioned law will not apply. This is because our laws expressly prohibit the execution of a joint will or a will of two persons executed in one document, to which:


“Article 818. Two or more persons cannot make a will jointly, or in the same instrument, either for their reciprocal benefit or for the benefit of a third person” (Civil Code of the Philippines).

Furthermore, the law clearly provides that:

“Article 819. Wills, prohibited by the preceding article, executed by Filipinos in a foreign country shall not be valid in the Philippines, even though authorized by the laws of the country where they may have been executed” (Id).

Simply put, a joint will executed by Filipinos in the Philippines or in any other country is not valid. The reason for this express prohibition apparently lies in the implications of executing a joint will which: limits the mode of its revocation, lessens the secrecy of the will, and presents possible undue influence and threat on the life of the other testator, or writer of the will (Ruben F. Balane, Jottings and Jurispurdence in Succession, 2006).

As seen from the cited laws above, although Filipinos can execute their wills abroad, a joint will made by Filipinos either here or abroad is void for being contrary to express provisions of our laws. Thus, it is best for your parents to execute a separate will so that it may be valid here in the Philippines.

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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