We assume the following: (i) the Will of the deceased has already been probated in England; and, (ii) the deceased is not a Filipino citizen.
Under Philippine law, the order of succession, the amount of successional rights, the intrinsic validity of the will’s testamentary provisions, and the capacity of the stated heirs to succeed, are all governed by the law of the deceased’s domicile.
In this regard, the options available to the Executors are:
Resealing of English Grant of Probate
The process of resealing is not specifically recognized in the Philippines, but the Philippines does allow for the process of recognition of foreign judgments. Upon recognition, a foreign judgment will be deemed conclusive as regards the upholding of the Will, and will be considered as good as if it had been adjudicated by a Philippine court.
The process of recognition is begun by the filing of a petition for recognition. The petitioner will then be required to prove that:
(i) All proper parties were served with process in the proceedings leading to the foreign judgment, i.e. the Grant of Probate or of Letters of Administration;
(ii) The Grant of Probate was validly issued by the High Court of Justice; and,
(iii) The Grant of Probate is final as regards any competing claims. A sealed and certified true copy of the Grant of Probate, duly authenticated by the Philippine Embassy, will then be attached to the petition for recognition.
In case the petition is contested, the English Grant may be set aside by proof of:
(a) Want of jurisdiction;
(b) Failure to give proper notice of the application for the Grant of Probate;
(d) Fraud; or
(e) Clear mistake of law or fact.
The proceedings involving the recognition and enforcement of the Grant of Porbate in the Philippines are generally truncated. And, the parties cannot challenge the merits of the English Grant once the Petition has been granted in the Philippines, unless there is a clear mistake of law or fact, which must necessarily be apparent on the face of the English Grant.
If the petition is without contest, a domestic Philippine judgment recognising and enforcing the English Grant can be obtained in six (6) months.
The court fees are minimal, and should be about PhP 10,000.00.
Reprobate of the Will in the Philippines
The reprobate of a Will already probated in England (or elsewhere) is a remedy that is specifically recognised by Philippine law. In such a case, a copy of the Will the subject of the Grant of Probate; and the Grant of Probate, both duly authenticated by the Philippine embassy, must be filed along with a petition for allowance.
The court in which the petition is filed will set a hearing and cause notice to be given to the known heirs, legatees, and devisees of the testator that are resident in the Philippines.
The court is bound to allow the Will if it finds that the Will duly complies with the law of the country in which it was executed, both as to form of the Will and capacity of the testator to make the Will. If these are duly proven, then letters testamentary shall be given to the executor named in the Will – or to an administrator if no executor is so named – and the estate of the testator in the Philippines is then disposed of by the executor according to the terms of the Will.
Again, assuming that the reprobate of the Will is without contest, then it may be secured within six (6) months from the time of filing of the petition.
The fees for reprobate are dependent upon the value of the property involved.
In both reprobate or recognition, however, an authorized representative of the estate must sign a verification/non-forum shopping certificate, and such representative’s written authorisation must be duly notarised/consularised by a Philippine embassy.
This also corresponds to our handling of the case, beginning with the preparation and filing of the initiatory petition, and concluding with either the decision of recognition or the reprobate of the English grant of probate.
We work on a fixed fee basis, and will let you have a quote for the work once we know the work that is going to be involved. We only request an increase if there is exceptional extra work involved in addition to the anticipated work.
I hope that you find the above information useful, and look forward to hearing from your further when you have had a chance to consider the above, and obtain the documents needed.
Should you have any questions on the foregoing, please do not hesitate to contact us.