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Chapter 2 Testamentary Succession
CHAPTER 2  TESTAMENTARY SUCCESSION
SECTION 1. – Wills
SUBSECTION 1. – Wills in General

Art. 783. A will is an act whereby a person is permitted, with the formalities prescribed by law, to control to a certain degree the disposition of this estate, to take effect after his death. (667a)

Art. 784. The making of a will is a strictly personal act; it cannot be left in whole or in part of the discretion of a third person, or accomplished through the instrumentality of an agent or attorney. (670a)

Art. 785. The duration or efficacy of the designation of heirs, devisees or legatees, or the determination of the portions which they are to take, when referred to by name, cannot be left to the discretion of a third person. (670a)

Art. 786. The testator may entrust to a third person the distribution of specific property or sums of money that he may leave in general to specified classes or causes, and also the designation of the persons, institutions or establishments to which such property or sums are to be given or applied. (671a)

Art. 787. The testator may not make a testamentary disposition in such manner that another person has to determine whether or not it is to be operative. (n)

Art. 788. If a testamentary disposition admits of different interpretations, in case of doubt, that interpretation by which the disposition is to be operative shall be preferred. (n)

Art. 789. When there is an imperfect description, or when no person or property exactly answers the description, mistakes and omissions must be corrected, if the error appears from the context of the will or from extrinsic evidence, excluding the oral declarations of the testator as to his intention; and when an uncertainty arises upon the face of the will, as to the application of any of its provisions, the testator’s intention is to be ascertained from the words of the will, taking into consideration the circumstances under which it was made, excluding such oral declarations. (n)

Art. 790. The words of a will are to be taken in their ordinary and grammatical sense, unless a clear intention to use them in another sense can be gathered, and that other can be ascertained.

Technical words in a will are to be taken in their technical sense, unless the context clearly indicates a contrary intention, or unless it satisfactorily appears that he was unacquainted with such technical sense. (675a)

Art. 791. The words of a will are to receive an interpretation which will give to every expression some effect, rather than one which will render any of the expressions inoperative; and of two modes of interpreting a will, that is to be preferred which will prevent intestacy. (n)

Art. 792. The invalidity of one of several dispositions contained in a will does not result in the invalidity of the other dispositions, unless it is to be presumed that the testator would not have made such other dispositions if the first invalid disposition had not been made. (n)

Art. 793. Property acquired after the making of a will shall only pass thereby, as if the testator had possessed it at the time of making the will, should it expressly appear by the will that such was his intention. (n)

Art. 794. Every devise or legacy shall cover all the interest which the testator could device or bequeath in the property disposed of, unless it clearly appears from the will that he intended to convey a less interest. (n)

Art. 795. The validity of a will as to its form depends upon the observance of the law in force at the time it is made. (n)

SUBSECTION 2. – Testamentary Capacity and Intent

Art. 796. All persons who are not expressly prohibited by law may make a will. (662)

Art. 797. Persons of either sex under eighteen years of age cannot make a will. (n)

Art. 798. In order to make a will it is essential that the testator be of sound mind at the time of its execution. (n)

Art. 799. To be of sound mind, it is not necessary that the testator be in full possession of all his reasoning faculties, or that his mind be wholly unbroken, unimpaired, or unshattered by disease, injury or other cause.

It shall be sufficient if the testator was able at the time of making the will to know the nature of the estate to be disposed of, the proper objects of his bounty, and the character of the testamentary act. (n)

Art. 800. The law presumes that every person is of sound mind, in the absence of proof to the contrary.

The burden of proof that the testator was not of sound mind at the time of making his dispositions is on the person who opposes the probate of the will; but if the testator, one month, or less, before making his will was publicly known to be insane, the person who maintains the validity of the will must prove that the testator made it during a lucid interval. (n)

Art. 801. Supervening incapacity does not invalidate an effective will, nor is the will of an incapable validated by the supervening of capacity. (n)

Art. 802. A married woman may make a will without the consent of her husband, and without the authority of the court. (n)

Art. 803. A married woman may dispose by will of all her separate property as well as her share of the conjugal partnership or absolute community property. (n)

SUBSECTION 3. – Forms of Wills

Art. 804. Every will must be in writing and executed in a language or dialect known to the testator. (n)

Art. 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. (n)

Art. 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. (n)

Art. 807. If the testator be deaf, or a deaf-mute, he must personally read the will, if able to do so; otherwise, he shall designate two persons to read it and communicate to him, in some practicable manner, the contents thereof. (n)

Art. 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. (n)

Art. 809. In the absence of bad faith, forgery, or fraud, or undue and improper pressure and influence, defects and imperfections in the form of attestation or in the language used therein shall not render the will invalid if it is proved that the will was in fact executed and attested in substantial compliance with all the requirements of Article 805. (n)

Art. 810. A person may execute a holographic will which 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. (678, 688a)

Art. 811. In the probate of a holographic will, it shall be necessary that at least one witness who knows the handwriting and signature of the testator explicitly declare that the will and the signature are in the handwriting of the testator. If the will is contested, at least three of such witnesses shall be required.

In the absence of any competent witness referred to in the preceding paragraph, and if the court deem it necessary, expert testimony may be resorted to. (619a)

Art. 812. In holographic wills, the dispositions of the testator written below his signature must be dated and signed by him in order to make them valid as testamentary dispositions. (n)

Art. 813. When a number of dispositions appearing in a holographic will are signed without being dated, and the last disposition has a signature and a date, such date validates the dispositions preceding it, whatever be the time of prior dispositions. (n)

Art. 814. In case of any insertion, cancellation, erasure or alteration in a holographic will, the testator must authenticate the same by his full signature. (n)

Art. 815. When a Filipino is in a foreign country, he is authorized to make a will in any of the forms established by the law of the country in which he may be. Such will may be probated in the Philippines. (n)

Art. 816. The will of an alien who is abroad produces effect in the Philippines if made with the formalities prescribed by the law of the place in which he resides, or according to the formalities observed in his country, or in conformity with those which this Code prescribes. (n)

Art. 817. A will made in the Philippines by a citizen or subject of another country, which is executed in accordance with the law of the country of which he is a citizen or subject, and which might be proved and allowed by the law of his own country, shall have the same effect as if executed according to the laws of the Philippines. (n)

Art. 818. Two or more persons cannot make a will jointly, or in the same instrument, either for their reciprocal benefit or for the benefit of a third person. (669)

Art. 819. Wills, prohibited by the preceding article, executed by Filipinos in a foreign country shall not be valid in the Philippines, even though authorized by the laws of the country where they may have been executed. (733a)

SUBSECTION 4. – Witnesses to Wills

Art. 820. Any person of sound mind and of the age of eighteen years or more, and not bind, deaf or dumb, and able to read and write, may be a witness to the execution of a will mentioned in Article 805 of this Code. (n)

Art. 821. The following are disqualified from being witnesses to a will:

(1) Any person not domiciled in the Philippines;

(2) Those who have been convicted of falsification of a document, perjury or false testimony. (n)

Art. 822. If the witnesses attesting the execution of a will are competent at the time of attesting, their becoming subsequently incompetent shall not prevent the allowance of the will. (n)

Art. 823. If a person attests the execution of a will, to whom or to whose spouse, or parent, or child, a devise or legacy is given by such will, such devise or legacy shall, so far only as concerns such person, or spouse, or parent, or child of such person, or any one claiming under such person or spouse, or parent, or child, be void, unless there are three other competent witnesses to such will. However, such person so attesting shall be admitted as a witness as if such devise or legacy had not been made or given. (n)

Art. 824. A mere charge on the estate of the testator for the payment of debts due at the time of the testator’s death does not prevent his creditors from being competent witnesses to his will. (n)

SUBSECTION 5. – Codicils and Incorporation by Reference

Art. 825. A codicil is supplement or addition to a will, made after the execution of a will and annexed to be taken as a part thereof, by which disposition made in the original will is explained, added to, or altered. (n)

Art. 826. In order that a codicil may be effective, it shall be executed as in the case of a will. (n)

Art. 827. If a will, executed as required by this Code, incorporates into itself by reference any document or paper, such document or paper shall not be considered a part of the will unless the following requisites are present:

(1) The document or paper referred to in the will must be in existence at the time of the execution of the will;

(2) The will must clearly describe and identify the same, stating among other things the number of pages thereof;

(3) It must be identified by clear and satisfactory proof as the document or paper referred to therein; and

(4) It must be signed by the testator and the witnesses on each and every page, except in case of voluminous books of account or inventories. (n)

SUBSECTION 6. – Revocation of Wills and Testamentary Dispositions

Art. 828. A will may be revoked by the testator at any time before his death. Any waiver or restriction of this right is void. (737a)

Art. 829. A revocation done outside the Philippines, by a person who does not have his domicile in this country, is valid when it is done according to the law of the place where the will was made, or according to the law of the place in which the testator had his domicile at the time; and if the revocation takes place in this country, when it is in accordance with the provisions of this Code. (n)

Art. 830. No will shall be revoked except in the following cases:

(1) By implication of law; or

(2) By some will, codicil, or other writing executed as provided in case of wills; or

(3) By burning, tearing, cancelling, or obliterating the will with the intention of revoking it, by the testator himself, or by some other person in his presence, and by his express direction. If burned, torn, cancelled, or obliterated by some other person, without the express direction of the testator, the will may still be established, and the estate distributed in accordance therewith, if its contents, and due execution, and the fact of its unauthorized destruction, cancellation, or obliteration are established according to the Rules of Court. (n)

Art. 831. Subsequent wills which do not revoke the previous ones in an express manner, annul only such dispositions in the prior wills as are inconsistent with or contrary to those contained in the latter wills. (n)

Art. 832. A revocation made in a subsequent will shall take effect, even if the new will should become inoperative by reason of the incapacity of the heirs, devisees or legatees designated therein, or by their renunciation. (740a)

Art. 833. A revocation of a will based on a false cause or an illegal cause is null and void. (n)

Art. 834. The recognition of an illegitimate child does not lose its legal effect, even though the will wherein it was made should be revoked. (714)

SUBSECTION 7. – Republication and Revival of Wills

Art. 835. The testator cannot republish, without reproducing in a subsequent will, the dispositions contained in a previous one which is void as to its form. (n)

Art. 836. The execution of a codicil referring to a previous will has the effect of republishing the will as modified by the codicil. (n)

Art. 837. If after making a will, the testator makes a second will expressly revoking the first, the revocation of the second will does not revive the first will, which can be revived only by another will or codicil. (739a)

SUBSECTION 8. – Allowance and Disallowance of Wills

Art. 838. No will shall pass either real or personal property unless it is proved and allowed in accordance with the Rules of Court.

The testator himself may, during his lifetime, petition the court having jurisdiction for the allowance of his will. In such case, the pertinent provisions of the Rules of Court for the allowance of wills after the testator’s a death shall govern.

The Supreme Court shall formulate such additional Rules of Court as may be necessary for the allowance of wills on petition of the testator.

Subject to the right of appeal, the allowance of the will, either during the lifetime of the testator or after his death, shall be conclusive as to its due execution. (n)

Art. 839. The will shall be disallowed in any of the following cases:

(1) If the formalities required by law have not been complied with;

(2) If the testator was insane, or otherwise mentally incapable of making a will, at the time of its execution;

(3) If it was executed through force or under duress, or the influence of fear, or threats;

(4) If it was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence, on the part of the beneficiary or of some other person;

(5) If the signature of the testator was procured by fraud;

(6) If the testator acted by mistake or did not intend that the instrument he signed should be his will at the time of affixing his signature thereto. (n)

SECTION 2. – Institution of Heir

Art. 840. Institution of heir is an act by virtue of which a testator designates in his will the person or persons who are to succeed him in his property and transmissible rights and obligations. (n)

Art. 841. A will shall be valid even though it should not contain an institution of an heir, or such institution should not comprise the entire estate, and even though the person so instituted should not accept the inheritance or should be incapacitated to succeed.

In such cases the testamentary dispositions made in accordance with law shall be complied with and the remainder of the estate shall pass to the legal heirs. (764)

Art. 842. One who has no compulsory heirs may dispose by will of all his estate or any part of it in favor of any person having capacity to succeed.

One who has compulsory heirs may dispose of his estate provided he does not contravene the provisions of this Code with regard to the legitime of said heirs. (763a)

Art. 843. The testator shall designate the heir by his name and surname, and when there are two persons having the same names, he shall indicate some circumstance by which the instituted heir may be known.

Even though the testator may have omitted the name of the heir, should he designate him in such manner that there can be no doubt as to who has been instituted, the institution shall be valid. (772)

Art. 844. An error in the name, surname, or circumstances of the heir shall not vitiate the institution when it is possible, in any other manner, to know with certainty the person instituted.

If among persons having the same names and surnames, there is a similarity of circumstances in such a way that, even with the use of the other proof, the person instituted cannot be identified, none of them shall be an heir. (773a)

Art. 845. Every disposition in favor of an unknown person shall be void, unless by some event or circumstance his identity becomes certain. However, a disposition in favor of a definite class or group of persons shall be valid. (750a)

Art. 846. Heirs instituted without designation of shares shall inherit in equal parts. (765)

Art. 847. When the testator institutes some heirs individually and others collectively as when he says, “I designate as my heirs A and B, and the children of C,” those collectively designated shall be considered as individually instituted, unless it clearly appears that the intention of the testator was otherwise. (769a)

Art. 848. If the testator should institute his brothers and sisters, and he has some of full blood and others of half blood, the inheritance shall be distributed equally unless a different intention appears. (770a)

Art. 849. When the testator calls to the succession a person and his children they are all deemed to have been instituted simultaneously and not successively. (771)

Art. 850. The statement of a false cause for the institution of an heir shall be considered as not written, unless it appears from the will that the testator would not have made such institution if he had known the falsity of such cause. (767a)

Art. 851. If the testator has instituted only one heir, and the institution is limited to an aliquot part of the inheritance, legal succession takes place with respect to the remainder of the estate.

The same rule applies if the testator has instituted several heirs, each being limited to an aliquot part, and all the parts do not cover the whole inheritance. (n)

Art. 852. If it was the intention of the testator that the instituted heirs should become sole heirs to the whole estate, or the whole free portion, as the case may be, and each of them has been instituted to an aliquot part of the inheritance and their aliquot parts together do not cover the whole inheritance, or the whole free portion, each part shall be increased proportionally. (n)

Art. 853. If each of the instituted heirs has been given an aliquot part of the inheritance, and the parts together exceed the whole inheritance, or the whole free portion, as the case may be, each part shall be reduced proportionally. (n)

Art. 854. The preterition or omission of one, some, or all of the compulsory heirs in the direct line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will or born after the death of the testator, shall annul the institution of heir; but the devises and legacies shall be valid insofar as they are not inofficious.

If the omitted compulsory heirs should die before the testator, the institution shall be effectual, without prejudice to the right of representation. (814a)

Art. 855. The share of a child or descendant omitted in a will must first be taken from the part of the estate not disposed of by the will, if any; if that is not sufficient, so much as may be necessary must be taken proportionally from the shares of the other compulsory heirs. (1080a)

Art. 856. A voluntary heir who dies before the testator transmits nothing to his heirs.

A compulsory heir who dies before the testator, a person incapacitated to succeed, and one who renounces the inheritance, shall transmit no right to his own heirs except in cases expressly provided for in this Code. (766a)

SECTION 3. – Substitution of Heirs

Art. 857. Substitution is the appointment of another heir so that he may enter into the inheritance in default of the heir originally instituted. (n)

Art. 858. Substitution of heirs may be:
(1) Simple or common;
(2) Brief or compendious;
(3) Reciprocal; or
(4) Fideicommissary. (n)

Art. 859. The testator may designate one or more persons to substitute the heir or heirs instituted in case such heir or heirs should die before him, or should not wish, or should be incapacitated to accept the inheritance.

A simple substitution, without a statement of the cases to which it refers, shall comprise the three mentioned in the preceding paragraph, unless the testator has otherwise provided. (774)

Art. 860. Two or more persons may be substituted for one; and one person for two or more heirs. (778)

Art. 861. If heirs instituted in unequal shares should be reciprocally substituted, the substitute shall acquire the share of the heir who dies, renounces, or is incapacitated, unless it clearly appears that the intention of the testator was otherwise. If there are more than one substitute, they shall have the same share in the substitution as in the institution. (779a)

Art. 862. The substitute shall be subject to the same charges and conditions imposed upon the instituted heir, unless and testator has expressly provided the contrary, or the charges or conditions are personally applicable only to the heir instituted. (780)

Art. 863. A fideicommissary substitution by virtue of which the fiduciary or first heir instituted is entrusted with the obligation to preserve and to transmit to a second heir the whole or part of the inheritance, shall be valid and shall take effect, provided such substitution does not go beyond one degree from the heir originally instituted, and provided further, that the fiduciary or first heir and the second heir are living at the time of the death of the testator. (781a)

Art. 864. A fideicommissary substitution can never burden the legitime. (782a)

Art. 865. Every fideicommissary substitution must be expressly made in order that it may be valid.

The fiduciary shall be obliged to deliver the inheritance to the second heir, without other deductions than those which arise from legitimate expenses, credits and improvements, save in the case where the testator has provided otherwise. (783)

Art. 866. The second heir shall acquire a right to the succession from the time of the testator’s death, even though he should die before the fiduciary. The right of the second heir shall pass to his heirs. (784)

Art. 867. The following shall not take effect:

(1) Fideicommissary substitutions which are not made in an express manner, either by giving them this name, or imposing upon the fiduciary the absolute obligation to deliver the property to a second heir;

(2) Provisions which contain a perpetual prohibition to alienate, and even a temporary one, beyond the limit fixed in article 863;

(3) Those which impose upon the heir the charge of paying to various persons successively, beyond the limit prescribed in article 863, a certain income or pension;

(4) Those which leave to a person the whole part of the hereditary property in order that he may apply or invest the same according to secret instructions communicated to him by the testator. (785a)

Art. 868. The nullity of the fideicommissary substitution does not prejudice the validity of the institution of the heirs first designated; the fideicommissary clause shall simply be considered as not written. (786)

Art. 869. A provision whereby the testator leaves to a person the whole or part of the inheritance, and to another the usufruct, shall be valid. If he gives the usufruct to various persons, not simultaneously, but successively, the provisions of Article 863 shall apply. (787a)

Art. 870. The dispositions of the testator declaring all or part of the estate inalienable for more than twenty years are void. (n)

SECTION 4. – Conditional Testamentary Dispositions
and Testamentary Dispositions With a Term

Art. 871. The institution of an heir may be made conditionally, or for a certain purpose or cause. (790a)

Art. 872. The testator cannot impose any charge, condition, or substitution whatsoever upon the legitimes prescribed in this Code. Should he do so, the same shall be considered as not imposed. (813a)

Art. 873. Impossible conditions and those contrary to law or good customs shall be considered as not imposed and shall in no manner prejudice the heir, even if the testator should otherwise provide. (792a)

Art. 874. An absolute condition not to contract a first or subsequent marriage shall be considered as not written unless such condition has been imposed on the widow or widower by the deceased spouse, or by the latter’s ascendants or descendants.

Nevertheless, the right of usufruct, or an allowance or some personal prestation may be devised or bequeathed to any person for the time during which he or she should remain unmarried or in widowhood. (793a)

Art. 875. Any disposition made upon the condition that the heir shall make some provision in his will in favor of the testator or of any other person shall be void. (794a)

Art. 876. Any purely potestative condition imposed upon an heir must be fulfilled by him as soon as he learns of the testator’s death.

This rule shall not apply when the condition, already complied with, cannot be fulfilled again. (795a)

Art. 877. If the condition is casual or mixed, it shall be sufficient if it happens or be fulfilled at any time before or after the death of the testator, unless he has provided otherwise.

Should it have existed or should it have been fulfilled at the time the will was executed and the testator was unaware thereof, it shall be deemed as complied with.

If he had knowledge thereof, the condition shall be considered fulfilled only when it is of such a nature that it can no longer exist or be complied with again. (796)

Art. 878. A disposition with a suspensive term does not prevent the instituted heir from acquiring his rights and transmitting them to his heirs even before the arrival of the term. (799a)

Art. 879. If the potestative condition imposed upon the heir is negative, or consists in not doing or not giving something, he shall comply by giving a security that he will not do or give that which has been prohibited by the testator, and that in case of contravention he will return whatever he may have received, together with its fruits and interests. (800a)

Art. 880. If the heir be instituted under a suspensive condition or term, the estate shall be placed under administration until the condition is fulfilled, or until it becomes certain that it cannot be fulfilled, or until the arrival of the term.

The same shall be done if the heir does not give the security required in the preceding article. (801a)

Art. 881. The appointment of the administrator of the estate mentioned in the preceding article, as well as the manner of the administration and the rights and obligations of the administrator shall be governed by the Rules of Court. (804a)

Art. 882. The statement of the object of the institution, or the application of the property left by the testator, or the charge imposed by him, shall not be considered as a condition unless it appears that such was his intention.

That which has been left in this manner may be claimed at once provided that the instituted heir or his heirs give security for compliance with the wishes of the testator and for the return of anything he or they may receive, together with its fruits and interests, if he or they should disregard this obligation. (797a)

Art. 883. When without the fault of the heir, an institution referred to in the preceding article cannot take effect in the exact manner stated by the testator, it shall be complied with in a manner most analogous to and in conformity with his wishes.

If the person interested in the condition should prevent its fulfillment, without the fault of the heir, the condition shall be deemed to have been complied with. (798a)

Art. 884. Conditions imposed by the testator upon the heirs shall be governed by the rules established for conditional obligations in all matters not provided for by this Section. (791a)

Art. 885. The designation of the day or time when the effects of the institution of an heir shall commence or cease shall be valid.

In both cases, the legal heir shall be considered as called to the succession until the arrival of the period or its expiration. But in the first case he shall not enter into possession of the property until after having given sufficient security, with the intervention of the instituted heir. (805)

SECTION 5. – Legitime

Art. 886. Legitime is that part of the testator’s property which he cannot dispose of because the law has reserved it for certain heirs who are, therefore, called compulsory heirs. (806)

Art. 887. The following are compulsory heirs:

(1) Legitimate children and descendants, with respect to their legitimate parents and ascendants;

(2) In default of the foregoing, legitimate parents and ascendants, with respect to their legitimate children and descendants;

(3) The widow or widower;

(4) Acknowledged natural children, and natural children by legal fiction;

(5) Other illegitimate children referred to in Article 287.

Compulsory heirs mentioned in Nos. 3, 4, and 5 are not excluded by those in Nos. 1 and 2; neither do they exclude one another.

In all cases of illegitimate children, their filiation must be duly proved.

The father or mother of illegitimate children of the three classes mentioned, shall inherit from them in the manner and to the extent established by this Code. (807a)

Art. 888. The legitime of legitimate children and descendants consists of one-half of the hereditary estate of the father and of the mother.

The latter may freely dispose of the remaining half, subject to the rights of illegitimate children and of the surviving spouse as hereinafter provided. (808a)

Art. 889. The legitime of legitimate parents or ascendants consists of one-half of the hereditary estates of their children and descendants.

The children or descendants may freely dispose of the other half, subject to the rights of illegitimate children and of the surviving spouse as hereinafter provided. (809a)

Art. 890. The legitime reserved for the legitimate parents shall be divided between them equally; if one of the parents should have died, the whole shall pass to the survivor.

If the testator leaves neither father nor mother, but is survived by ascendants of equal degree of the paternal and maternal lines, the legitime shall be divided equally between both lines. If the ascendants should be of different degrees, it shall pertain entirely to the ones nearest in degree of either line. (810)

Art. 891. The ascendant who inherits from his descendant any property which the latter may have acquired by gratuitous title from another ascendant, or a brother or sister, is obliged to reserve such property as he may have acquired by operation of law for the benefit of relatives who are within the third degree and who belong to the line from which said property came. (871)

Art. 892. If only one legitimate child or descendant of the deceased survives, the widow or widower shall be entitled to one-fourth of the hereditary estate. In case of a legal separation, the surviving spouse may inherit if it was the deceased who had given cause for the same.

If there are two or more legitimate children or descendants, the surviving spouse shall be entitled to a portion equal to the legitime of each of the legitimate children or descendants.

In both cases, the legitime of the surviving spouse shall be taken from the portion that can be freely disposed of by the testator. (834a)

Art. 893. If the testator leaves no legitimate descendants, but leaves legitimate ascendants, the surviving spouse shall have a right to one-fourth of the hereditary estate.

This fourth shall be taken from the free portion of the estate. (836a)

Art. 894. If the testator leaves illegitimate children, the surviving spouse shall be entitled to one-third of the hereditary estate of the deceased and the illegitimate children to another third. The remaining third shall be at the free disposal of the testator. (n)

Art. 895. The legitime of each of the acknowledged natural children and each of the natural children by legal fiction shall consist of one-half of the legitime of each of the legitimate children or descendants.

The legitime of an illegitimate child who is neither an acknowledged natural, nor a natural child by legal fiction, shall be equal in every case to four-fifths of the legitime of an acknowledged natural child.

The legitime of the illegitimate children shall be taken from the portion of the estate at the free disposal of the testator, provided that in no case shall the total legitime of such illegitimate children exceed that free portion, and that the legitime of the surviving spouse must first be fully satisfied. (840a)

Art. 896. Illegitimate children who may survive with legitimate parents or ascendants of the deceased shall be entitled to one-fourth of the hereditary estate to be taken from the portion at the free disposal of the testator. (841a)

Art. 897. When the widow or widower survives with legitimate children or descendants, and acknowledged natural children, or natural children by legal fiction, such surviving spouse shall be entitled to a portion equal to the legitime of each of the legitimate children which must be taken from that part of the estate which the testator can freely dispose of. (n)

Art. 898. If the widow or widower survives with legitimate children or descendants, and with illegitimate children other than acknowledged natural, or natural children by legal fiction, the share of the surviving spouse shall be the same as that provided in the preceding article. (n)

Art. 899. When the widow or widower survives with legitimate parents or ascendants and with illegitimate children, such surviving spouse shall be entitled to one-eighth of the hereditary estate of the deceased which must be taken from the free portion, and the illegitimate children shall be entitled to one-fourth of the estate which shall be taken also from the disposable portion. The testator may freely dispose of the remaining one-eighth of the estate. (n)

Art. 900. If the only survivor is the widow or widower, she or he shall be entitled to one-half of the hereditary estate of the deceased spouse, and the testator may freely dispose of the other half. (837a)

If the marriage between the surviving spouse and the testator was solemnized in articulo mortis, and the testator died within three months from the time of the marriage, the legitime of the surviving spouse as the sole heir shall be one-third of the hereditary estate, except when they have been living as husband and wife for more than five years. In the latter case, the legitime of the surviving spouse shall be that specified in the preceding paragraph. (n)

Art. 901. When the testator dies leaving illegitimate children and no other compulsory heirs, such illegitimate children shall have a right to one-half of the hereditary estate of the deceased.

The other half shall be at the free disposal of the testator. (842a)

Art. 902. The rights of illegitimate children set forth in the preceding articles are transmitted upon their death to their descendants, whether legitimate or illegitimate. (843a)

Art. 903. The legitime of the parents who have an illegitimate child, when such child leaves neither legitimate descendants, nor a surviving spouse, nor illegitimate children, is one-half of the hereditary estate of such illegitimate child. If only legitimate or illegitimate children are left, the parents are not entitled to any legitime whatsoever. If only the widow or widower survives with parents of the illegitimate child, the legitime of the parents is one-fourth of the hereditary estate of the child, and that of the surviving spouse also one-fourth of the estate. (n)

Art. 904. The testator cannot deprive his compulsory heirs of their legitime, except in cases expressly specified by law.

Neither can he impose upon the same any burden, encumbrance, condition, or substitution of any kind whatsoever. (813a)

Art. 905. Every renunciation or compromise as regards a future legitime between the person owing it and his compulsory heirs is void, and the latter may claim the same upon the death of the former; but they must bring to collation whatever they may have received by virtue of the renunciation or compromise. (816)

Art. 906. Any compulsory heir to whom the testator has left by any title less than the legitime belonging to him may demand that the same be fully satisfied. (815)

Art. 907. Testamentary dispositions that impair or diminish the legitime of the compulsory heirs shall be reduced on petition of the same, insofar as they may be inofficious or excessive. (817)

Art. 908. To determine the legitime, the value of the property left at the death of the testator shall be considered, deducting all debts and charges, which shall not include those imposed in the will.

To the net value of the hereditary estate, shall be added the value of all donations by the testator that are subject to collation, at the time he made them. (818a)

Art. 909. Donations given to children shall be charged to their legitime.

Donations made to strangers shall be charged to that part of the estate of which the testator could have disposed by his last will.

Insofar as they may be inofficious or may exceed the disposable portion, they shall be reduced according to the rules established by this Code. (819a)

Art. 910. Donations which an illegitimate child may have received during the lifetime of his father or mother, shall be charged to his legitime.

Should they exceed the portion that can be freely disposed of, they shall be reduced in the manner prescribed by this Code. (847a)

Art. 911. After the legitime has been determined in accordance with the three preceding articles, the reduction shall be made as follows:

(1) Donations shall be respected as long as the legitime can be covered, reducing or annulling, if necessary, the devises or legacies made in the will;

(2) The reduction of the devises or legacies shall be pro rata, without any distinction whatever.

If the testator has directed that a certain devise or legacy be paid in preference to others, it shall not suffer any reduction until the latter have been applied in full to the payment of the legitime.

(3) If the devise or legacy consists of a usufruct or life annuity, whose value may be considered greater than that of the disposable portion, the compulsory heirs may choose between complying with the testamentary provision and delivering to the devisee or legatee the part of the inheritance of which the testator could freely dispose. (820a)

Art. 912. If the devise subject to reduction should consist of real property, which cannot be conveniently divided, it shall go to the devisee if the reduction does not absorb one-half of its value; and in a contrary case, to the compulsory heirs; but the former and the latter shall reimburse each other in cash for what respectively belongs to them.

The devisee who is entitled to a legitime may retain the entire property, provided its value does not exceed that of the disposable portion and of the share pertaining to him as legitime. (821)

Art. 913. If the heirs or devisees do not choose to avail themselves of the right granted by the preceding article, any heir or devisee who did not have such right may exercise it; should the latter not make use of it, the property shall be sold at public auction at the instance of any one of the interested parties. (822)

Art. 914. The testator may devise and bequeath the free portion as he may deem fit. (n)

SECTION 6. – Disinheritance

Art. 915. A compulsory heir may, in consequence of disinheritance, be deprived of his legitime, for causes expressly stated by law. (848a)

Art. 916. Disinheritance can be effected only through a will wherein the legal cause therefor shall be specified. (849)

Art. 917. The burden of proving the truth of the cause for disinheritance shall rest upon the other heirs of the testator, if the disinherited heir should deny it. (850)

Art. 918. Disinheritance without a specification of the cause, or for a cause the truth of which, if contradicted, is not proved, or which is not one of those set forth in this Code, shall annul the institution of heirs insofar as it may prejudice the person disinherited; but the devises and legacies and other testamentary dispositions shall be valid to such extent as will not impair the legitime. (851a)

Art. 919. The following shall be sufficient causes for the disinheritance of children and descendants, legitimate as well as illegitimate:

(1) When a child or descendant has been found guilty of an attempt against the life of the testator, his or her spouse, descendants, or ascendants;

(2) When a child or descendant has accused the testator of a crime for which the law prescribes imprisonment for six years or more, if the accusation has been found groundless;

(3) When a child or descendant has been convicted of adultery or concubinage with the spouse of the testator;

(4) When a child or descendant by fraud, violence, intimidation, or undue influence causes the testator to make a will or to change one already made;

(5) A refusal without justifiable cause to support the parent or ascendant who disinherits such child or descendant;

(6) Maltreatment of the testator by word or deed, by the child or descendant;

(7) When a child or descendant leads a dishonorable or disgraceful life;

(8) Conviction of a crime which carries with it the penalty of civil interdiction. (756, 853, 674a)

Art. 920. The following shall be sufficient causes for the disinheritance of parents or ascendants, whether legitimate or illegitimate:

(1) When the parents have abandoned their children or induced their daughters to live a corrupt or immoral life, or attempted against their virtue;

(2) When the parent or ascendant has been convicted of an attempt against the life of the testator, his or her spouse, descendants, or ascendants;

(3) When the parent or ascendant has accused the testator of a crime for which the law prescribes imprisonment for six years or more, if the accusation has been found to be false;

(4) When the parent or ascendant has been convicted of adultery or concubinage with the spouse of the testator;

(5) When the parent or ascendant by fraud, violence, intimidation, or undue influence causes the testator to make a will or to change one already made;

(6) The loss of parental authority for causes specified in this Code;

(7) The refusal to support the children or descendants without justifiable cause;

(8) An attempt by one of the parents against the life of the other, unless there has been a reconciliation between them. (756, 854, 674a)

Art. 921. The following shall be sufficient causes for disinheriting a spouse:

(1) When the spouse has been convicted of an attempt against the life of the testator, his or her descendants, or ascendants;

(2) When the spouse has accused the testator of a crime for which the law prescribes imprisonment of six years or more, and the accusation has been found to be false;

(3) When the spouse by fraud, violence, intimidation, or undue influence cause the testator to make a will or to change one already made;

(4) When the spouse has given cause for legal separation;

(5) When the spouse has given grounds for the loss of parental authority;

(6) Unjustifiable refusal to support the children or the other spouse. (756, 855, 674a)

Art. 922. A subsequent reconciliation between the offender and the offended person deprives the latter of the right to disinherit, and renders ineffectual any disinheritance that may have been made. (856)

Art. 923. The children and descendants of the person disinherited shall take his or her place and shall preserve the rights of compulsory heirs with respect to the legitime; but the disinherited parent shall not have the usufruct or administration of the property which constitutes the legitime. (857)

SECTION 7. – Legacies and Devises

Art. 924. All things and rights which are within the commerce of man be bequeathed or devised. (865a)

Art. 925. A testator may charge with legacies and devises not only his compulsory heirs but also the legatees and devisees.

The latter shall be liable for the charge only to the extent of the value of the legacy or the devise received by them. The compulsory heirs shall not be liable for the charge beyond the amount of the free portion given them. (858a)

Art. 926. When the testator charges one of the heirs with a legacy or devise, he alone shall be bound.

Should he not charge anyone in particular, all shall be liable in the same proportion in which they may inherit. (859)

Art. 927. If two or more heirs take possession of the estate, they shall be solidarily liable for the loss or destruction of a thing devised or bequeathed, even though only one of them should have been negligent. (n)

Art. 928. The heir who is bound to deliver the legacy or devise shall be liable in case of eviction, if the thing is indeterminate and is indicated only by its kind. (860)

Art. 929. If the testator, heir, or legatee owns only a part of, or an interest in the thing bequeathed, the legacy or devise shall be understood limited to such part or interest, unless the testator expressly declares that he gives the thing in its entirety. (864a)

Art. 930. The legacy or devise of a thing belonging to another person is void, if the testator erroneously believed that the thing pertained to him. But if the thing bequeathed, though not belonging to the testator when he made the will, afterwards becomes his, by whatever title, the disposition shall take effect. (862a)

Art. 931. If the testator orders that a thing belonging to another be acquired in order that it be given to a legatee or devisee, the heir upon whom the obligation is imposed or the estate must acquire it and give the same to the legatee or devisee; but if the owner of the thing refuses to alienate the same, or demands an excessive price therefor, the heir or the estate shall only be obliged to give the just value of the thing. (861a)

Art. 932. The legacy or devise of a thing which at the time of the execution of the will already belonged to the legatee or devisee shall be ineffective, even though another person may have some interest therein.

If the testator expressly orders that the thing be freed from such interest or encumbrance, the legacy or devise shall be valid to that extent. (866a)

Art. 933. If the thing bequeathed belonged to the legatee or devisee at the time of the execution of the will, the legacy or devise shall be without effect, even though it may have subsequently alienated by him.

If the legatee or devisee acquires it gratuitously after such time, he can claim nothing by virtue of the legacy or devise; but if it has been acquired by onerous title he can demand reimbursement from the heir or the estate. (878a)

Art. 934. If the testator should bequeath or devise something pledged or mortgaged to secure a recoverable debt before the execution of the will, the estate is obliged to pay the debt, unless the contrary intention appears.

The same rule applies when the thing is pledged or mortgaged after the execution of the will.

Any other charge, perpetual or temporary, with which the thing bequeathed is burdened, passes with it to the legatee or devisee. (867a)

Art. 935. The legacy of a credit against a third person or of the remission or release of a debt of the legatee shall be effective only as regards that part of the credit or debt existing at the time of the death of the testator.

In the first case, the estate shall comply with the legacy by assigning to the legatee all rights of action it may have against the debtor. In the second case, by giving the legatee an acquittance, should he request one.

In both cases, the legacy shall comprise all interests on the credit or debt which may be due the testator at the time of his death. (870a)

Art. 936. The legacy referred to in the preceding article shall lapse if the testator, after having made it, should bring an action against the debtor for the payment of his debt, even if such payment should not have been effected at the time of his death.

The legacy to the debtor of the thing pledged by him is understood to discharge only the right of pledge. (871)

Art. 937. A generic legacy of release or remission of debts comprises those existing at the time of the execution of the will, but not subsequent ones. (872)

Art. 938. A legacy or devise made to a creditor shall not be applied to his credit, unless the testator so expressly declares.

In the latter case, the creditor shall have the right to collect the excess, if any, of the credit or of the legacy or devise. (837a)

Art. 939. If the testator orders the payment of what he believes he owes but does not in fact owe, the disposition shall be considered as not written. If as regards a specified debt more than the amount thereof is ordered paid, the excess is not due, unless a contrary intention appears.

The foregoing provisions are without prejudice to the fulfillment of natural obligations. (n)

Art. 940. In alternative legacies or devises, the choice is presumed to be left to the heir upon whom the obligation to give the legacy or devise may be imposed, or the executor or administrator of the estate if no particular heir is so obliged.

If the heir, legatee or devisee, who may have been given the choice, dies before making it, this right shall pass to the respective heirs.

Once made, the choice is irrevocable.

In the alternative legacies or devises, except as herein provided, the provisions of this Code regulating obligations of the same kind shall be observed, save such modifications as may appear from the intention expressed by the testator. (874a)

Art. 941. A legacy of generic personal property shall be valid even if there be no things of the same kind in the estate.

A devise of indeterminate real property shall be valid only if there be immovable property of its kind in the estate.

The right of choice shall belong to the executor or administrator who shall comply with the legacy by the delivery of a thing which is neither of inferior nor of superior quality. (875a)

Art. 942. Whenever the testator expressly leaves the right of choice to the heir, or to the legatee or devisee, the former may give or the latter may choose whichever he may prefer. (876a)

Art. 943. If the heir, legatee or devisee cannot make the choice, in case it has been granted him, his right shall pass to his heirs; but a choice once made shall be irrevocable. (877a)

Art. 944. A legacy for education lasts until the legatee is of age, or beyond the age of majority in order that the legatee may finish some professional, vocational or general course, provided he pursues his course diligently.

A legacy for support lasts during the lifetime of the legatee, if the testator has not otherwise provided.

If the testator has not fixed the amount of such legacies, it shall be fixed in accordance with the social standing and the circumstances of the legatee and the value of the estate.

If the testator or during his lifetime used to give the legatee a certain sum of money or other things by way of support, the same amount shall be deemed bequeathed, unless it be markedly disproportionate to the value of the estate. (879a)

Art. 945. If a periodical pension, or a certain annual, monthly, or weekly amount is bequeathed, the legatee may petition the court for the first installment upon the death of the testator, and for the following ones which shall be due at the beginning of each period; such payment shall not be returned, even though the legatee should die before the expiration of the period which has commenced. (880a)

Art. 946. If the thing bequeathed should be subject to a usufruct, the legatee or devisee shall respect such right until it is legally extinguished. (868a)

Art. 947. The legatee or devisee acquires a right to the pure and simple legacies or devises from the death of the testator, and transmits it to his heirs. (881a)

Art. 948. If the legacy or device is of a specific and determinate thing pertaining to the testator, the legatee or devisee acquires the ownership thereof upon the death of the testator, as well as any growing fruits, or unborn offspring of animals, or uncollected income; but not the income which was due and unpaid before the latter’s death.

From the moment of the testator’s death, the thing bequeathed shall be at the risk of the legatee or devisee, who shall, therefore, bear its loss or deterioration, and shall be benefited by its increase or improvement, without prejudice to the responsibility of the executor or administrator. (882a)

Art. 949. If the bequest should not be of a specific and determinate thing, but is generic or of quantity, its fruits and interests from the time of the death of the testator shall pertain to the legatee or devisee if the testator has expressly so ordered. (884a)

Art. 950. If the estate should not be sufficient to cover all the legacies or devises, their payment shall be made in the following order:

(1) Remuneratory legacies or devises;

(2) Legacies or devises declared by the testator to be preferential;

(3) Legacies for support;
(4) Legacies for education;

(5) Legacies or devises of a specific, determinate thing which forms a part of the estate;

(6) All others pro rata. (887a)

Art. 951. The thing bequeathed shall be delivered with all its accessories and accessories and in the condition in which it may be upon the death of the testator. (883a)

Art. 952. The heir, charged with a legacy or devise, or the executor or administrator of the estate, must deliver the very thing bequeathed if he is able to do so and cannot discharge this obligation by paying its value.

Legacies of money must be paid in cash, even though the heir or the estate may not have any.

The expenses necessary for the delivery of the thing bequeathed shall be for the account of the heir or the estate, but without prejudice to the legitime. (886a)

Art. 953. The legatee or devisee cannot take possession of the thing bequeathed upon his own authority, but shall request its delivery and possession of the heir charged with the legacy or devise, or of the executor or administrator of the estate should he be authorized by the court to deliver it. (885a)

Art. 954. The legatee or devisee cannot accept a part of the legacy or devise and repudiate the other, if the latter be onerous.

Should he die before having accepted the legacy or devise, leaving several heirs, some of the latter may accept and the others may repudiate the share respectively belonging to them in the legacy or devise. (889a)

Art. 955. The legatee or devisee of two legacies or devises, one of which is onerous, cannot renounce the onerous one and accept the other. If both are onerous or gratuitous, he shall be free to accept or renounce both, or to renounce either. But if the testator intended that the two legacies or devises should be inseparable from each other, the legatee or devisee must either accept or renounce both.

Any compulsory heir who is at the same time a legatee or devisee may waive the inheritance and accept the legacy or devise, or renounce the latter and accept the former, or waive or accept both. (890a)

Art. 956. If the legatee or devisee cannot or is unwilling to accept the legacy or devise, or if the legacy or devise for any reason should become ineffective, it shall be merged into the mass of the estate, except in cases of substitution and of the right of accretion. (888a)

Art. 957. The legacy or devise shall be without effect:

(1) If the testator transforms the thing bequeathed in such a manner that it does not retain either the form or the denomination it had;

(2) If the testator by any title or for any cause alienates the thing bequeathed or any part thereof, it being understood that in the latter case the legacy or devise shall be without effect only with respect to the part thus alienated. If after the alienation the thing should again belong to the testator, even if it be by reason of nullity of the contract, the legacy or devise shall not thereafter be valid, unless the reacquisition shall have been effected by virtue of the exercise of the right of repurchase;

(3) If the thing bequeathed is totally lost during the lifetime of the testator, or after his death without the heir’s fault. Nevertheless, the person obliged to pay the legacy or devise shall be liable for eviction if the thing bequeathed should not have been determinate as to its kind, in accordance with the provisions of Article 928. (869a)

Art. 958. A mistake as to the name of the thing bequeathed or devised, is of no consequence, if it is possible to identify the thing which the testator intended to bequeath or devise. (n)

Art. 959. A disposition made in general terms in favor of the testator’s relatives shall be understood to be in favor of those nearest in degree. (751)




Chapter 2 Testamentary Succession
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