G.R. No. L-58509, 7 December 1982, 119 SCRA 16
The appellant filed a petition for the probate of the holographic will of Ricardo Bonilla in 1977. The petition was opposed by the appellees on the ground that the deceased did not leave any will, holographic or otherwise.
The lower court dismissed the petition for probate and held that since the original will was lost, a photocopy cannot stand in the place of the original.
Whether or not a holographic will which was lost or cannot be found can be proved by means of a photocopy
Yes. The probate may be uncontested or not. If uncontested, at least one Identifying witness is required and, if no witness is available, experts may be resorted to. If contested, at least three Identifying witnesses are required. However, if the holographic will has been lost or destroyed and no other copy is available, the will can not be probated because the best and only evidence is the handwriting of the testator in said will. It is necessary that there be a comparison between sample handwritten statements of the testator and the handwritten will. But, a photocopy or xerox copy of the holographic will may be allowed because comparison can be made with the standard writings of the testator.
In the case of Gam vs. Yap, 104 PHIL. 509, the Court ruled that “the execution and the contents of a lost or destroyed holographic will may not be proved by the bare testimony of witnesses who have seen and/or read such will. The will itself must be presented; otherwise, it shall produce no effect. The law regards the document itself as material proof of authenticity.” But, in Footnote 8 of said decision, it says that “Perhaps it may be proved by a photographic or photostatic copy. Even a mimeographed or carbon copy; or by other similar means, if any, whereby the authenticity of the handwriting of the deceased may be exhibited and tested before the probate court,” Evidently, the photostatic or xerox copy of the lost or destroyed holographic will may be admitted because then the authenticity of the handwriting of the deceased can be determined by the probate court.
*Case digest by Carolyn Kaye A. Tulang, LLB-IV, Andres Bonifacio College Law School, SY 2018-2019