I have a classmate in college named Lito who is 17 years of age and an orphan. He told me that he had a brother who recently died of cancer. His brother was allegedly a priest of a certain sect. According to Lito, his brother left a will giving to his church all his pieces of property (car and residential lot). A representative from that sect contacted my classmate and presented the alleged will. But they claimed that they were no longer interested to file a Petition for Probate of Will because of the expenses. They wanted Lito to just sign a purported Deed of Donation where he will be donating all the assets left by his brother to the church. Lito has asked me to consult a lawyer regarding this matter, hence, this letter.
If a person died leaving a will, the provisions with respect to the disposition of his property or pieces of property to take effect after his death shall be respected provided such will does not contain provisions that contravene any law.
Based on your letter, it appears that the church of the deceased is not qualified to succeed as to the assets left by Lito’s brother. It is specifically provided under Article 1027 (1) of the New Civil Code of the Philippines that “the priest who heard the confession of the testator during his last illness, or the minister of the gospel who extended spiritual aid to him during the same period are incapable of succeeding.” In relation thereto, “the relatives of such priest or minister of the gospel within the fourth degree, the church, order, chapter, community, organization or institution to which such priest or minister may belong are also incapable to succeed” ((2), Ibid). These are the reasons why the testamentary provisions in the will of Lito’s brother are void; hence, the provision on intestate succession will now apply where Lito will be inheriting the pieces of property left by his brother.
Even if Lito signs the purported donation to the church, the same will be void considering that Lito is a minor. Minors cannot enter into a contract such as donation for lack of legal capacity. Under Article 1327 of the civil code, “unemancipated minors and insane or demented persons, and deaf-mutes who do not know how to write cannot give consent to a contract.”
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.
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