Reaching the twilight of my years, I have decided to prepare my last will and testament. Upon deciding who will benefit from the estate that I will leave behind, I greatly considered my experience as a researcher in a cancer research institute. From my time working as a cancer research scientist, I realized how financially strapped our office was and this greatly affected the work that we do. I am also aware that most of the funds we get come from donations. Because of this, I am seriously considering donating a portion of my estate upon my death to science research institutes and organizations. Through this, I am hoping to continue to contribute in the understanding of cancer through scientific research long after I am gone., I am uncertain, however, if I am allowed by law to name such institutes in addition to naming individual persons as beneficiaries of the estate that I will leave behind.
I will greatly appreciate your advice, so I may know if I am allowed by law to leave a part of my estate to research organizations or facilities. Thank you.
According to the law, the testator has the discretion to decide as to who can inherit from his estate through his last will and testament. The law does not limit the beneficiaries of a last will and testament to natural persons only. In fact, the Civil Code of the Philippines provides for a specific provision that expressly allows testamentary disposition for juridical persons, to wit:
“A testamentary disposition may be made to the State, provinces, municipal corporations, private corporations, organizations or associations for religious, scientific, cultural, educational or charitable purposes.
All other corporations or entities may succeed under a will, unless there is a provision to the contrary in their charter or the laws of their creation, and always subject to the same” (Art. 1026. Civil Code of the Philippines). Emphasis supplied.
It is clear from this cited law that private corporations and organizations for scientific purposes, such as the cancer research institute that you have mentioned, are among those that can be the beneficiaries of your estate as you intended them to be in your last will and testament. By including them in your last will and testament, such juridical persons, just like individual natural persons, are legally considered as recipients of your testamentary disposition that is allowed by law.
It is also important to remind you that in order for your last will and testament to have a full legal effect, it is still necessary for it to undergo a probate proceeding, which is required by law. This proceeding judicially determines whether your last will complies with the requirements of the law and therefore ultimately determines whether your will shall be allowed to have a legal effect as provided by the law.
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.