Last will's pages must be signed, paginated


Every notarial will must be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself or by the testator's name written by some other person in his presence, and by his express direction, and attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another. The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will, shall also sign, as aforesaid, each and every page thereof, except the last, on the left margin, and all the pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page. (Article 805 of the New Civil Code)

Each page of the will, except the last page, shall be signed by the testator and his witnesses. The law requires that the signatures be on the left margin of each page.

However, if the will consists of only one page, all the signatures would be at the bottom. Therefore, there is no need to sign the left margin thereof.

When the will consists of only two pages and the first of which contains all dispositions and is signed at the bottom by the testator and the witnesses, and the second page contains only the attestation clause duly signed at the bottom by the witnesses, there would be no need to comply with the requirement of marginal signatures or, even, the pagination requirement. (G.R. No. L-13431. November 12, 1919)

The use of thumbprint was allowed in Matias v. Salud (L-10751. 23 June 1958). A thumbprint is considered as a valid and sufficient signature in complying with the requirements of Article 805.

The inadvertent failure of one witness to affix his signature to one page of a testament, due to the simultaneous lifting of two pages in the course of signing, is not per se sufficient to justify denial of probate. In short, inadvertent failure to affix marginal signatures is an exception to the general rule under the second paragraph of Article 805. Impossibility of substitution of this page is assured not only the fact that the testatrix and two other witnesses did sign the defective page, but also by its bearing the coincident imprint of the seal of the notary public before whom the testament was ratified by testatrix and all three witnesses. (Icasiano v. Icasiano. G.R. No. L-18979. June 30, 1964)
Pagination is a mandatory requirement; however, the requirement that letters be used in paginating is merely directory. Pagination by means of a conventional system is legally justifiable.

In requiring that each and every page of the will also be signed on the left margin by the testator and three witnesses in the presence of each other, the law evidently has for its object (referring to the body of the will itself) to avoid the substitution of any of said pages, thereby changing the testator's dispositions.

In requiring this signature on the margin, the law takes into consideration, undoubtedly, the case of a will written on several sheets and must have referred to the sheets which the testator and the witnesses do not have to sign at the bottom. A different interpretation would assume that the law requires that this sheet, already signed at the bottom, be signed twice.

As these signatures must be written by the testator and the witnesses in the presence of each other, it appears that, if the signatures at the bottom of the sheet guaranties its authenticity, another signature on its left margin would be unnecessary. In short, the term "every page" should be interpreted to refer to a will with two or more pages.

In requiring that each and every page of a will must be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of the sheet, it is likewise clear that the object of the law is to know whether any sheet of the will has been removed. However, when all the dispositive parts of a will are written on one sheet only, the object of the statute disappears because the removal of this single sheet, although unnumbered, cannot be hidden. (G.R. No. L-13431. November 12, 1919)

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