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IV. Dilemma 5: Last Will and Testament and Successional Rights.

On April
2005, four years after the plane crash, probate proceedings for Manuels will
were initiated. In the will, Manuel left P100, 000 to Cora, and the rest of all his
properties to Wendy and Ben equally (see Appendix H, Will of Manuel Soriano).
Louis, entrusted with the will, knew that if the will was to be followed, it would
be unfair to Wendy, since Ben was really Manuels illegitimate child. Louis
advises Wendy to contest the will. He adds, however that if she contests the
will, she has to tell the whole world that Ben is not her biological child. Wendy
does not want to give Ben up to his biological mother, since she (Wendy) has
learned to love him. However, she is adamant about not giving Cora the P500,
000.For Class Discussion Faculty Guide a. Should Wendy contest the will? I.
See Appendix H, Will of Manuel SorianoII.
Consider the following: i. Civil Code, Article 892, 894, 897Art. 892. If only one
legitimate child or descendant of the deceased survives, the widow or widower
shall be entitled to one-fourth of the hereditary estate. In case of a legal
separation, the surviving spouse may inherit if it was the deceased who had
given cause for the same. If there are two or more legitimate children or
descendants, the surviving spouse shall be entitled to a portion equal to the
legitime of each of the legitimate children or descendants. In both cases, the
legitime of the surviving spouse shall be taken from the portion that can be
freely disposed of by the testator. Art. 894. If the testator leaves illegitimate
children, the surviving spouse shall be entitled to one-third of the hereditary
estate of the deceased and the illegitimate children to another third. The
remaining third shall be at the free disposal of the testator. Art. 897. When the
widow or widower survives with legitimate children or descendants, and
acknowledged natural children, or natural children by legal fiction, such
surviving spouse shall be entitled to a portion equal to the legitime of each of
the legitimate children which must be taken from that part of the estate which
the testator can freely dispose of.
b. Louie reminds Wendy that in all their years of friendship, she and Manuel
have gone to him for their legal problems but not once did he charge them a
fee. Due to the time involved in litigating this case (as to not giving Cora the
P500, 000), he accepts the case but demands from Wendy payment of P150,
000, his standard fee. Wendy refuses. Can Louis withdraw from the case?
I. Consider the following: a. Code of Professional Responsibility, Canons 22,
22.01, 20.04, 14.04
CANON 22 - A LAWYER SHALL WITHDRAW HIS SERVICES ONLY FOR
GOODCAUSEAND UPON NOTICE APPROPRIATE IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES. Rule
22.01 - A lawyer may withdraw his services in any of the following case:(a)
When the client pursues an illegal or immoral course of conduct in connection
with the matter he is handling;(b) When the client insists that the lawyer
pursue conduct violative of these canons and rules;(c) When his inability to
work with co-counsel will not promote the best interest of the client;(d) When
the mental or physical condition of the lawyer renders it difficult for him to
carry out the employment effectively;(e) When the client deliberately fails to
pay the fees for the services or fails to comply with the retainer agreement;(f)
When the lawyer is elected or appointed to public office; and(g) Other similar
cases. Rule 20.04 - A lawyer shall avoid controversies with clients concerning
his compensation and shall resort to judicial action only to prevent imposition,

injustice or fraud. Rule 14.04 - A lawyer who accepts the cause of a person
unable to pay his professional fees shall observe the same standard of conduct
governing his relations with paying clients.
b. Santiago vs. Fojas, 248 SCRA 68
"It is axiomatic that no lawyer is obliged to act either as adviser or advocate for
every person who may wish to become his client. he has the right to decline
employment, subject, however, to Canon14 of the CPR. Once he agrees to take
up the cause of a client, the lawyer owes fidelity to such cause and must
always bemindful of the trust and confidence repose in him. he must serve his
client with competence and diligence, and champion the latter's cause with
wholehearted fidelity, care, and devotion...."c. If instead, Louie agrees to take
the case upon Wendys promise to give him the entire P500,000 meant for
Cora, should he win the case but only P25,000 should helose, would this
be correctly characterized as a contingent fee? I. Consider the following: i.
Taganas vs. NLRC, GR 118746, 9/7/95A contingent fee arrangement is an
agreement laid down in an express contract between a lawyer and a client in
which the lawyer's professional fee, usually a fixed percentage of what may be
recovered in the action is made to depend upon the success of the litigation.
This arrangement isvalid in this jurisdiction. d. Distinguish between a
champertous contract and a contingent fee.
. The case of Bautista vs Gonzales (182 SCRA 151) describes a champertous
agreement as one whereby an attorney agrees to pay expenses of
proceedings to enforce the clients rights. In champertous contracts, the
lawyer is the one paying for all the costs and fees of the case, without
reimbursement from the client. II. On the other hand, a contingent fee is
defined in the case of Taganas vs NLRCas an agreement laid down in an
express contract between a lawyer and a clientin which the lawyer's
professional fee, usually a fixed percentage of what may be recovered in the
action is made to depend upon the success of the litigation.Thus, in
contingent fees, the lawyer gets paid the agreed amount if the case is
successful, otherwise, he does not get paid, or gets paid a lower agreed
amount. This does not mean though that the lawyer necessarily pays the costs
and fees ofthe suit. The clients may still be paying for the costs of the suit, but
the lawyer gets paid his agreed fee if they win.e. What are the criteria in
considering the reasonableness of Attorneys fees? I. Consider the following: i.
Code of Professional Responsibility, Canon 20.01Rule 20.01 - A lawyer shall be
guided by the following factors in determining his fees:(a) the time spent and
the extent of the service rendered or required;(b) the novelty and difficulty of
the questions involved;(c) The importance of the subject matter;(d) The skill
demanded;(e) The probability of losing other employment as a result of
acceptance of the proffered ase;(f) The customary charges for similar services
and the schedule of fees of the IBP chapter to which he belongs;(g) The amount
involved in the controversy and the benefits resulting to the client from the
service;(h) The contingency or certainty of compensation;(i) The character of
the employment, whether occasional or established; and(j) The professional
standing of the lawyer.ii. Rules of Court, Rule 138, Section 24Sec. 24.
Compensation of attorneys; agreement as to fees. - An attorney shall be
entitled to haveand recover from his client no more than a reasonable
compensation for his services, with a viewto the importance of the subject
matter of the controversy, the extent of the services rendered,and the

professional standing of the attorney. No court shall be bound by the opinion of


attorneysas expert witnesses as to the proper compensation, but may
disregard such testimony and base itsconclusion on its own professional
knowledge. A written contract for services shall control theamount to be paid
therefor unless found by the court to be unconscionable or unreasonable
iii. Del Rosario vs. CA, 237 SCRA 39
In determining the reasonableness of such [attorneys] fees, this Court ina
number of cases has provided various criteria which, for convenientguidance,
we might collate thusly:a) the quantity and character of the services
rendered;b) the labor, time and trouble involved;c) the nature and importance
of the litigation;d) the amount of money or the value of the property affected
by thecontroversy;e) the novelty and difficulty of questions involved;f) the
responsibility imposed on counsel;g) the skill and experience called for in the
performance of theservice;h) the professional character and social standing of
the lawyer;i) the customary charges of the bar for similar services;j)
the
character of employment, whether casual or forestablishment client;k)
whether the fee is absolute or contingent (it being the rule thatan attorney may
properly charge a higher fee when it is contingentthan when it is absolute);
andl) the results secured.
f. Presume that Louis does not take the case and Wendy seeks the services of a
media-savvy female lawyer, Atty. Evie Escaler. She believes that there is little
chance that the case will prosper considering that Wendy wanted the bequest
to Cora to be voided on moral grounds but did not want any proof to be
presented that could identify Cora as Bens biological mother. Nevertheless,
she keeps these thoughts to herself and accepts the case considering that it
presented a real challenge and was a good test case in addition to having the
makings of a high profile case of show-biz proportions. Discuss the legal and
moral issues involved. I
Consider the following: i. Code of Professional Responsibility, Canons 15, 15.05,
15.07, 17CANON 15 - A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND
LOYALTY INALLHIS DEALINGS AND TRANSACTIONS WITH HIS CLIENTS .Rule
15.05. - A lawyer when advising his client, shall give a candid and honest
opinion on themerits and probable results of the client's case, neither
overstating nor understating the prospects of the case. Rule 15.07. - A lawyer
shall impress upon his client compliance with the laws and the principles of
fairness.