This article talks about the grounds for unworthiness which prevents a person from becoming an heir in both intestate and testate succession.
There are certain people who are incapable of becoming heirs because of unworthiness.
Actions have consequences. As they say, you reap what you sow. This justifies the Civil Code provisions concerning unworthiness. Pursuant to Article 1032 of the Civil Code, the following are incapable of succeeding by reason on unworthiness:
(1) Parents who have abandoned their children or induced their daughters to lead a corrupt or immoral life, or attempted against their virtue;
(2) Any person who has been convicted of an attempt against the life of the testator, his or her spouse, descendants, or ascendants;
(3) Any person who 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;
(4) Any heir of full age who, having knowledge of the violent death of the testator, should fail to report it to an officer of the law within a month, unless the authorities have already taken action; this prohibition shall not apply to cases wherein, according to law, there is no obligation to make an accusation;
(5) Any person convicted of adultery or concubinage with the spouse of the testator;
(6) Any person who by fraud, violence, intimidation, or undue influence should cause the testator to make a will or to change one already made;
(7) Any person who by the same means prevents another from making a will, or from revoking one already made, or who supplants, conceals, or alters the latter’s will;
(8) Any person who falsifies or forges a supposed will of the decedent.
In cases falling under Nos. 2, 3, or 5 above, it shall be necessary to wait until final judgment is rendered, and in the case falling under No. 4, the expiration of the month allowed for the report [Article 1034, Civil Code].
Unworthiness applies to both intestate and testate succession. There is also representation in unworthiness.
It must be noted that the grounds for unworthiness specified above apply to both intestate and testamentary succession. It even covers the legitime of the unworthy heir. If the person excluded from the inheritance by reason of incapacity should be a child or descendant of the decedent and should have children or descendants, the latter shall acquire his right to the legitime. The person so excluded shall not enjoy the usufruct and administration of the property thus inherited by his children [Article 1035, Civil Code]. Thus, there can be representation in cases of unworthiness.
Condonation in writing sets aside the grounds for unworthiness.
It has been said that to err is human but to forgive is divine. Thus, forgiveness produces certain outcomes. Article 1033 of the Civil Code enunciates that the cause of unworthiness shall be without effect if the testator had knowledge thereof at the time he made the will, or if, having known of them subsequently, he should condone them in writing. The operative word here is “writing”. Forgiveness or condonation must be in writing. As regards instituting the unworthy heir in a will despite knowledge of the existence of the cause of unworthiness, the better opinion seems to be that it is not enough; the will must also either institute the unworthy heir or restore him to capacity [Ruben F. Balane, Jottings and Jurisprudence in Civil Law (Succession) (2016 ed) p. 560].
If there is any takeaway from this article, it is to do no one wrong. One cannot expect to reap riches from someone he maltreated. Otherwise, the law will step in to rectify the injustice.
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