Legal requirements for handwritten wills


Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
My name is Jericho. My father left me his handwritten last will and testament.

However, I noticed that his last will and testament does not contain any disposition of properties, but only the following provision:

“Ako si Primo na nagtataglay ng maliwanag na pag-iisip at disposisyon ay tahasan at hayagang inaalisan ko ng lahat at anumang mana ang panganay kong anak na si Alfredo dahil siya ay naging lapastangan sa akin habang ako ay nabubuhay pa.
(Date signed) xxx”

However, my brother, Alfredo opposed the will executed by our father. He argued that based on the advice of his lawyer, the will and testament does not contain any disposition of the estate of our father, and does not comply with the rules set forth by the law. I am not an expert nor am I familiar with the technicalities of the validity of wills, especially as regards the execution of our father’s last will and testament. Is my father’s last will and testament considered valid and binding? Can you please enlighten me on the matter?

Dear Jericho,
According to Article 810 of the Civil Code, “a holographic will 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.”

It can be inferred from the provision of the law that a person may execute a holographic will provided it is entirely written, dated and signed by the hand of the testator himself, in your case, by the hand of Primo himself. It is not subjected to any other form unlike the execution of a notarial will.

Moreover, in the case of Dy Yieng Seangio, et al. vs. Amor A. Reyes, et al (G.R No. 140371-72, November 27, 2006; Ponente: Associate Justice Adolfo Azcuna), the Supreme Court stressed that “it is a fundamental principle that the intent or the will of the testator, expressed in the form and within the limits prescribed by law, must be recognized as the supreme law in succession. All rules of construction are designed to ascertain and give effect to that intention. It is only when the intention of the testator is contrary to law, morals, or public policy that it cannot be given effect.”

It was also emphasized in the Supreme Court decision that “(h)olographic wills xxx being usually prepared by one who is not learned in the law, should be construed more liberally than the ones drawn by an expert, taking into account the circumstances surrounding the execution of the instrument and the intention of the testator.”

Thus, such a will, “although it may initially come across as a mere disinheritance instrument, conforms to the formalities of a holographic will prescribed by law” (Ibid.).

In fact, it was written, dated and signed by the hand of the testator himself. An intent to dispose mortis causa (to take effect upon the death of the testator) can be clearly deduced from the terms of the instrument, and while it does not make an affirmative disposition of the latter’s property, the disinheritance, nonetheless, is an act of disposition in itself.

In other words, the disinheritance results in the disposition of the property of the testator in favor of those who would succeed in the absence of the other descendants (Id.).

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.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to


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