Doctrine of dependent relative revocation

The rule that where the act of destruction is connected with the making of another will so as to fairly raise the inference that the testator meant the revocation of the old to depend upon the efficacy of the new disposition intended to be substituted, the revocation will be conditional and dependent upon the efficacy of the new disposition; and if for any reason, the new will intended to be made as a substitute is inoperative, the revocation fails and the original will remain in full force.

The failure of the new testamentary disposition upon whose validity the revocation depends is equivalent to the non-fulfillment of a suspensive condition and hence prevents the revocation of the original will. (G.R. No. L-2538. September 21, 1951)

This doctrine is known as that of dependent relative revocation, and is usually applied where the testator cancels or destroys a will or executes an instrument intended to revoke a will with a present intention to make a new testamentary disposition as a substitute for the old, and the new disposition is not made or, if made, fails of effect for the same reason. The doctrine is not limited to the existence of some other document, however, and has been applied where a will was destroyed as a consequence of a mistake of law. (68 C.J.P. 799).

The rule is established that where the act of destruction is connected with the making of another will so as fairly to raise the inference that the testator meant the revocation of the old to depend upon the efficacy of a new disposition intended to be substituted, the revocation will be conditional and dependent upon the efficacy of the new disposition; and if, for any reason, the new will intended to be made as a substitute is inoperative, the revocation fails and the original will remains in full force. (Gardner, pp. 232, 233.)

This is the doctrine of dependent relative revocation. The failure of a new testamentary disposition upon whose validity the revocation depends, is equivalent to the non-fulfillment of a suspensive conditions, and hence prevents the revocation of the original will. But a mere intent to make at some time a will in the place of that destroyed will not render the destruction conditional. It must appear that the revocation is dependent upon the valid execution of a new will. (1 Alexander, p. 751; Gardner, p. 253.)

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