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A will or testament is an act where a person is permitted to determine to a certain
extent the distribution of his estate to take effect after his death

From a conflict of laws perspective, a will is an involuntary transfer if property

because although the acts of executing ones last will and testament is a voluntary
act, that in itself does not transfer title

It is only upon death of the owner that the will comes into effect and since death is
involuntary, making a will becomes an involuntary transfer of property

As such it is governed by the proper law which, in common law countries, is the law
of the domicile of the testator and in civil law countries, his national law
If a Filipino national makes a will abroad, he may comply with the formalities under
Philippine law (lex nationalii) or
Those established by the law of the country where that will was executed (lex loci
The pertinent conflict of law rules are found in Art 17, and 815 of the Civil Code
Article 17. The forms and solemnities of contracts, wills, and other public instruments shall be governed
by the laws of the country in which they are executed.
Article 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
Emil Johnson, a native of Sweden and a naturalized US citizen died in Manila,
leaving a holographic will where he disposed of his estate
The will was signed by the testator and two witnesses, instead of three as required
by Sec. 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure thus could not be proved under this
No will, except as provided in the preceding section, shall be valid to pass any estate, real or
personal, nor charge or affect the same, unless it be in writing and signed by the testator, 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 each other

A petition was filed with the CFI in Manila for the probate of this will on the groun
that Johnson was, at the time of his death, a citizen of Illinois, USA
His will was duly executed in accordance with the laws of that state and could be
properly probated under Sec. 636 of the Code of Civil Procedure
Will made here by alien. A will made within the Philippine Islands by a citizen or subject of another state or country, which is
executed in accordance with the law of the state or country of which he is a citizen or subject, and which might be proved and
allowed by the law of his own state or country, may be proved, allowed, and recorded in the Philippine Islands, and shall have
the same effect as if executed according to the laws of these Islands.
Art. 818 of the Civil Code states:
Two or more persons cannot make a will jointly or in the same instrument either for their reciprocal
benefit of for the benefit of a third person.

Joint wills whether executed by Filipinos in the Philippines or abroad, even if such
foreign country allows it, are considered void in the Philippines
A joint will is prohibited because:
A will is purely personal and unilateral act and this is defeated if two or more persons make their will
in the same instrument
It is contrary to the revocable character of the will
A joint will, if mutual or reciprocal, may expose a testator to undue influence
A holographic will is one entirely written, dated and signed by the hand of the
testator himself
This is the most simple and most convenient method of making a last will and
The rules contained in Art. 816 and 817 on wills made by aliens abroad or in the
Philippines apply to holographic wills:
Article 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.
Article 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.
Beatrice Babcock Templeton filed a petition to secure probate of a paper writing purporting
to be the wishes of Jennie Rider Babcock with reference to the post mortem disposition of all
of her property
The handwritten statement was not executed as a will under the provisions of the Philippines
and so was not offered for probate under Sec. 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure but under
Sec. 636
Sec 636 authorizes probate by our courts of a will made within the Philippines by a citizen of
another country, when such will is executed in accordance with the law of the country of which
the testator is a citizen and which might be proved under the law of such country
It was alleged that at the time of her death Jennie Rider Babcock was a resident of California,
through temporarily residing in Manila, and that the parties have agreed that the paper could
be proved in California as her holographic will
Issue: Was Jennie Rider Babcock a citizen of California at the time the will was
Held: YES.
It is a well settled rule that a citizen of United States cannot acquire citizenship in the
Philippine Islands by residence, however long continued
The Court ruled that the testatrix remained a citizen of California and that her
domicile acquired in California was never lost
Intrinsic validity of wills is governed by the national law of the decedent
Art. 16 (2) of the Civil Code reads;
However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the order of succession and to the
amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be
regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever
may be the nature of the property and regardless of the country wherein said property may be found.

Miciano v. Brimo
Andre Brimo opposed his brothers intention to have Philippine laws apply
The mot significant relationship approach should be used
Since the decedent was a resident of the Philippines, executed his will here, intended the Philippine law
to govern, and the will concerned properties in the Philippines, the court could very well have justified
applying the Philippine law
The Philippines was where the case had its most significant contacts
Pursuant to the nationality principle in our Civil Code, the interpretation of a will of
testament must be governed by the rules of interpretation of the decedents national
As in contracts, the rule is that where the terms of the will are clear and
unambiguous, the lex intentionis of the party should be followed
Where the terms are ambiguous, the intention can be inferred from the context of the
instrument itself
If none of these can give absolute assurance that indeed the intention of the testator
has been ascertained, settled presumption of law may be resorted to
It is presumed that the interpretations of ambiguous phrase should be determined in
accordance with the laws and customs of the state most probably in the mind of the
Being a unilateral and purely personal act, a will is revocable at any time before
the death of the testator
Any waiver or restriction of this right is void
Under Art. 829 of the Civil Code
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 (lex celebrationis), or
according to the law of the place in which the testator had his domicile at the time (lex domicilii); and
if the revocation takes place in this country, when it is in accordance with the provisions of this Code.

Under Philippine laws, wills are not deemed revoked except in the following cases;
By implication of law
By some will, codicil or other writing
By burning, tearing, cancelling or obliterating the will with the intention of revoking it

Differentiate Lex loci celebrationis and

Lex nationalii
Lex loci celebrationis means the law of the
place where the contract is made is to be
Lex nationalii means the personal law of the
person should be followed