• Law makes spouse compulsory heir to conjugal estate

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    Dear PAO,
    My friend is married for 15 years now. He learned that his wife, who is presently working in Qatar, did not include him in her will. Can she validly do that? What can my friend do to resolve this matter?
    Simeon

    Dear Simeon,
    As a general rule, a spouse is entitled to receive legitime from the properties left by his or her spouse upon the latter’s demise. This is so because Article 887 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines expressly recognizes a spouse as a compulsory heir of the testator, and pursuant to Article 904 of the said law, the testator cannot deprive his or her compulsory heir of the said legitime, except in cases expressly specified by law.

    Accordingly, your friend may still be entitled to receive his legitime even if he was not included by his wife in the will that she has executed. However, it bears stressing that the wife of your friend may exclude him from receiving the said legitime through disinheritance. It is only necessary for her to establish that her husband has committed any of the causes or grounds for disinheriting a spouse mentioned under Article 921 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines, to wit: (1) When the spouse has been convicted of an attempt against the life of the testator, his or her descendants, or ascendants; (2) When the spouse has accused the testator of a crime for which the law prescribes imprisonment of six years or more, and the accusation has been found to be false; (3) When the spouse by fraud, violence, intimidation, or undue influence cause the testator to make a will or to change one already made; (4) When the spouse has given cause for legal separation; (5) When the spouse has given grounds for the loss of parental authority; (6) Unjustifiable refusal to support the children or the other spouse.

    At this point, it is advisable for your friend to talk to his wife and ascertain whether she really executed a will and whether she in fact excluded her husband therefrom. If his wife confirms the execution of the said will and his exclusion thereof, it is best for him to settle his differences with his wife so that they can reach some form of reconciliation. This is essential because as provided under the law, the reconciliation between the offender and the offended person deprives the latter of the right to disinherit and renders the disinheritance earlier made ineffectual. (Article 922, New 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 you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

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