Death is in the periphery, unacknowledged, but it is a truth as certain as the setting of the sun. All of us will die. While the “how” is not up to us (under normal circumstances), the disposition of our body and our possessions are within our control.
Can you face it?
Sooner or later, you need to. Yes, the law does provide for instances when there is no will (intestate succession) but you may leave more destruction and confusion in your wake (literally) if this is the path you choose. But the law has given you an easy way out (again, literally), and this is through a holographic will.
I always imagine a hologram when I hear the term holographic will. In my imagination, I see a dead person speaking from the grave, telling the ones he left behind how he loved them, how he lived, how he wants things to be, now that he is gone. Kind of a love letter, and a confession at the same time; a bequeath, his last chance to be generous; an acceptance that everything is temporary and that he cannot bring things material, not one, to the great beyond.
According to the Civil Code (Article 810), a holographic will 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.
To translate, the person writing his will must, simply, hand-write it, date it, sign it.
The beauty about this kind of will is that it could be a private affair – there needs to be no witnesses – no lawyer or family, hovering and expectant, it can be in any form (a card, a poem, a biography, an odyssey) provided the intention to bequeath could be determined with certainty, it can be made in the Philippines or elsewhere, made with our without the assistance of a lawyer and it need not be notarized.
Are you ready?
Here are the things you should prepare when writing your holographic will:
1. A list of everything you own. Start with real property (lots, houses and lots, or an interest in real estate, i.e., co-ownership), personal property (cars, jewelry, stocks, bonds, shares), cash on hand.
2. A list of everything your spouse owns, if you have one. Include here those that your spouse inherited (after the marriage), or received as a donation (again after the marriage). If you were married after August 3, 1988 (effectivity of the Family Code), those belong to your spouse alone and you cannot give it away. Mention that in your will so there will be no doubt at the time of probate.
You can now start to divide your property among your kin, leave your instructions, appoint an executor (and a sub). If your will is a living will, you can also leave instructions as to what your executor should do when you slip into a coma or become mentally impaired. What happens? How long before they pull the plug? Do they pull the plug? Do you want to be cremated? Where do you want to be buried? Do you want a celebration? A cry fest? Your epitaph? It could be the littlest things and the biggest things and as long as you can write it, you can have it.
For probate (read: establishing the validity of the will), gather some of your hand-written letters or notes to prove your handwriting and signature. Bundle it up and tie it with a ribbon and leave it with your will, which should be in a safe place. Tell someone you trust where they can find it.
In disposing of your property, a little caveat (warning): the law protects the compulsory heirs and their share cannot be less than what the law provides. If their shares are impaired, the law comes to the fore and makes them whole. This means that what you have given to a stranger (read: not a compulsory or secondary heir) may be taken back. You may want to consult a lawyer for this. But then again, this should not worry you. The more important thing is that you have made your voice heard, even from beyond the grave. You have managed to settle your affairs, put order into what otherwise would have been a difficult undertaking to those you left behind. The law gives importance to wills and to all that it implies and ensure that, excepting things that are unlawful, your last wishes will be done.
Part of wealth creation is wealth protection. Through a will, you will be protecting the ones that you love – from the State, from others, from themselves.
Now, are you ready for your will to be done?
Article by Issa. Art by D. Copyright 2009.
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