I am a hospital nurse who was once assigned to take care of a terminally ill man as my patient. After the death of my patient, I was surprised when some of his relatives told me that I was included in his last will and testament. However, I was told by his daughter that I won’t get anything from his father’s estate since I took care of him before his death and this is allegedly what the law says. Is this true? Am I really prohibited from receiving anything from my patient even though he included me in his last will? I think I deserve to receive something from my patient. Please advise me. God bless!
While a testator generally has the discretion to name who will inherit from his estate through his last will and testament, the law still identifies several individuals who are incapable of succeeding from the testator.
Article 1027 of the Civil Code of the Philippines enumerates the following who are incapable of succeeding from a testator:
“ (1) 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;
(2) 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;
(3) A guardian with respect to testamentary dispositions given by a ward
in his favor before the final accounts of the guardianship have been approved, even if the testator should die after the approval thereof; nevertheless, any provision made by the ward in favor of the guardian when the latter is his ascendant, descendant, brother, sister, or spouse, shall be valid;
(4) Any attesting witness to the execution of a will, the spouse, parents, or children, or any one claiming under such witness, spouse, parents, or children;
(5) Any physician, surgeon, nurse, health officer or druggist who took care of the testator during his last illness;
(6) Individuals, associations and corporations not permitted by law to inherit.” (Emphasis supplied)
As seen from the fifth paragraph of this cited provision, nurses who took care of the testator during his last illness are among those who are prohibited from succeeding from the last will of the testator. In order for this prohibition to apply, it is important that the nurses and other medical personalities mentioned therein must have taken care of the testator during the latter’s final illness prior to his demise.
This provision is considered as absolute as no actual duress or influence has to be shown since it is already conclusively presumed from the people enumerated therein in relation to the testator who are in their care. (Ruben F. Balane, Jottings and Jurisprudence in Civil Law (Succession) 2006) This can be considered as a preventive measure to ensure that the relationship with the testator in taking care of him before his death will not be abused.
Thus, although your patient named you in his last will as an heir, it is unfortunate that you are prohibited by express provision of the law from receiving and succeeding in his estate through his last will and testament.
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 email@example.com