Principle of instanter

In succession law, one rule regarding the revocation of wills is the principle of instanter. Instanter is a Latin term meaning without delay or instantly.

For example, there are two wills: the first and the second. The revocation clause under the second will is not testamentary in character but operates to revoke the prior will instanter (immediately) upon the due execution of the will containing it. The revocation of the second will does not revive the second will which has already become a nullity.

Note that another principle exists saying that the implied revocation of the first will by the second will merely "suspends" the force and effect of the first. This is because, in such a case, the revocation of the second will revives the first will.

Under the instanter rule, an express revocation clause in the second will immediately kills the first will. Therefore, even if the second will gets revoked, the second will can no longer be revived. Such an effect is "instanter" or "immediate."

In Cheever v. North, on application for probate of a will, evidence was offered of the execution of a second will. The jury found that the second "made a complete disposition of his estate." There was no evidence and no finding as to whether the second will contained, in terms, a revocation of the prior will. The court admitted the first will to probate, holding that while an express revocation operated instanter to abolish a former will, in such a case as this, the second will must take effect at testator's death to be a revocation of the earlier will. (106 Mich. 390. September 26, 1895)

In the case cited above, the Supreme Court of Michigan set an additional requirement to the instanter rule. It said that, although the express revocation kills the first will instantaneously, the second will containing the revocatory clause must take effect at the testator's death. Otherwise, the instanter rule does not apply.

As of today, the Philippines has yet to produce a piece of jurisprudence dealing with the rule on instanter.