G.R. No. 74695, 14 September 1993, 226 SCRA 348
The testator did not read the final draft of the will himself. Instead, private respondent, as the lawyer who drafted the 8-paged document, read the same aloud in the presence of the testator, the 3 instrumental witnesses and the notary public. The latter 4 followed the reading with their own respective copies previously furnished them.
Said will was admitted to probate. Later on, a codicil was executed, and by that time, the testator was already suffering from glaucoma. But the disinheritance and revocatory clauses were unchanged. As in the case of the notarial will, the testator did not personally read the final draft of the codicil. Instead, it was private respondent who read it aloud in his presence and in the presence of the three instrumental witnesses (same as those of the notarial will) and the notary public who followed the reading using their own copies.
Was there substantial compliance to the reading of the will?
Article 808 not only applies to blind testators, but also to those who, for one reason or another, are incapable of reading their wills. Hence, the will should have been read by the notary public and an instrumental witness. However, the spirit behind the law was served though the letter was not. In this case, there was substantial compliance. Substantial compliance is acceptable where the purpose of the law has been satisfied, the reason being that the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills are intended to protect the testator from all kinds of fraud and trickery but are never intended to be so rigid and inflexible as to destroy the testamentary privilege.
In this case, private respondent read the testator’s will and codicil aloud in the presence of the testator, his three instrumental witnesses, and the notary public. Prior and subsequent thereto, the testator affirmed, upon being asked, that the contents read corresponded with his instructions. Only then did the signing and acknowledgement take place.
*Case digest by Russel Vincent T. Saracho, LLB-IV, Andres Bonifacio College Law School, SY 2018-2019