When my aunt died, she left a last will and testament where she designated me and my other cousins as heirs to all her pieces of property. What shall we do to enforce the provisions of her will? Is there a possibility for her will to be invalidated?
Dear Mr. Reyes,
The last will and testament of your aunt should be proved and allowed first in accordance with our Rules of Court before any of her pieces of property may be transferred to the heirs named therein (Article 838, Civil Code of the Philippines). Being one of the designated heirs, you may file a petition for probate before the Regional Trial Court where she resides at the time of her death. Your petition shall contain the following: 1) jurisdictional facts; 2) the names, ages and residences of the heirs, legatees and devisees of the testator or decedent; 3) the probable value and character of the pieces of property of the estate; 4) the name of the person for whom letters are prayed; and 5) if the will has not been delivered to the court, the name of the person having custody of the pieces of property (Rule 76, Section 2, Rules of Court). Once you have filed the petition, the court having jurisdiction shall fix a time and place for proving the will when all concerned may appear to contest the allowance thereof, and shall cause notice of such time and place to be published three (3) weeks successively, previous to the time appointed, in a newspaper of general circulation in the province (Rule 76, Section 3, Rules of Court). If the court is satisfied with your petition, it shall issue a certificate of allowance duly attested by the seal of the court that shall be attached to the will. The attested copies of the will devising real property and of the certificate of allowance thereof, shall be recorded in the register of deeds of the province in which the lands are located (Rule 76, Section 3, Rules of Court).
The last will and testament of your aunt will be disallowed, however, in any of the following instances: 1) if the formalities required by law have not been complied with; 2) if the testator was insane or otherwise mentally incapable of making a will, at the time of its execution; 3) if it was executed through force or under duress, or the influence of fear, or threats; 4) if it was procured by undue and improper influence on the part of the beneficiary or of some other person; 5) if the signature of the testator was procured by fraud; and 6) if the testator acted by mistake or did not intend that the instrument he signed should be his will at the time of affixing his signature thereto (Article 839, Civil Code of the Philippines).
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts that 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