My brother, who is already a senior citizen, is currently suffering from a terminal illness. Because of his condition, he manifested his desire to prepare his last will and testament. To ensure that we prepare his last will correctly, we would like to know the proper procedure for this and if there is a different way of doing it for blind persons like him? I hope you can give us an advice regarding this matter.
Thank you. God bless!
To answer your question, it is important to note that there are two ways of preparing a last will and testament. It can either be through an attested will or a holographic will. The latter involves executing a last will entirely made in the handwriting of the testator while the former need not be handwritten but requires the attestation of witnesses in the preparation of the last will. Considering the handicapped condition of your brother, an attested will is appropriate for him.
In detail, the Civil Code of the Philippines provides for the specific requirements for the preparation of an attested will:
“Article 805. Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself or by the testator’s name written by some other person in his presence, and by his express direction, and attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another.
The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will, shall also sign, as aforesaid, each and every page thereof, except the last, on the left margin, and all the pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page.
The attestation shall state the number of pages used upon which the will is written, and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page thereof, or caused some other person to write his name, under his express direction, in the presence of the instrumental witnesses, and that the latter witnessed and signed the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another.
If the attestation clause is in a language not known to the witnesses, it shall be interpreted to them.”
“Article 806. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. The notary public shall not be required to retain a copy of the will, or file another with the office of the Clerk of Court.”
In addition to these specific requirements in the preparation of an attested will, the law provides for an important requirement for blind persons, to wit:
“Article 808. If the testator is blind, the will shall be read to him twice; once, by one of the subscribing witnesses, and again, by the notary public before whom the will is acknowledged” (Civil Code of the Philippines).
As clearly shown by the above cited law, the prepared last will of your brother as the testator, must be read to him by both the witnesses to the will and by the notary public acknowledging it. Jurisprudence states that the rationale behind this requirement of reading the will to the testator who is blind is to make the provisions of the last will known to him so that he can verify if they are in accordance to his wishes (Garcia vs Vasquez, 32 SCRA 489,1970).
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