Uson v. Del Rosario FACTS: This is an action for recovery of the ownership and possession of five (5) parcels of land in Pangasinan, filed by Maria Uson against Maria del Rosario and her four illegit children. Maria Uson was the lawful wife of Faustino Nebreda who upon his death in 1945 left the lands involved in this litigation. Faustino Nebreda left no other heir except his widow Maria Uson. However, plaintiff claims that when Faustino Nebreda died in 1945, his common-law wife Maria del Rosario took possession illegally of said lands thus depriving her of their possession and enjoyment. Defendants in their answer set up as special defense that Uson and her husband, executed a public document whereby they agreed to separate as husband and wife and, in consideration of which Uson was given a parcel of land and in return she renounced her right to inherit any other property that may be left by her husband upon his death. CFI found for Uson. Defendants appealed. ISSUE: 1. W/N Uson has a right over the lands from the moment of death of her husband. 2. W/N the illegit children of deceased and his common-law wife have successional rights. HELD: 1. Yes. There is no dispute that Maria Uson, is the lawful wife of Faustino Nebreda, former owner of the five parcels of lands litigated in the present case. There is likewise no dispute that Maria del Rosario, was merely a common-law wife with whom she had four illegitimate children with the deceased. It likewise appears that Faustino Nebreda died in 1945 much prior to the effectivity of the new Civil Code. With this background, it is evident that when Faustino Nebreda died in 1945 the five parcels of land he was seized of at the time passed from the moment of his death to his only heir, his widow Maria Uson (Art 777 NCC).As this Court aptly said, "The property belongs to the heirs at the moment of the death of the ancestor as completely as if the ancestor had executed and delivered to them a deed for the same before his death". From that moment, therefore, the rights of inheritance of Maria Uson over the lands in question became vested. The claim of the defendants that Maria Uson had relinquished her right over the lands in question because she expressly renounced to inherit any future property that her husband may acquire and leave upon his death in the deed of separation, cannot be entertained for the simple reason that future inheritance cannot be the subject of a contract nor can it be renounced. 2. No. The provisions of the NCC shall be given retroactive effect even though the event which gave rise to them may have occurred under the prior legislation only if no vested rights are impaired. Hence, since the right of ownership of Maria Uson over the lands in question became vested in 1945 upon the death of her late husband, the new right recognized by the new Civil Code in favor of the illegitimate children of the deceased cannot, therefore, be asserted to the impairment of the vested right of Maria Uson over the lands in dispute. Borja v. Borja FACTS: Francisco de Borja filed a petition for probate of the will of his wife who died, Josefa Tangco, with the CFI of Rizal. He was appointed executor and administrator, until he died; his son Jose became the sole administrator. Francisco had taken a 2nd wife Tasiana before he died; she instituted testate proceedings with the CFI of Nueva Ecija upon his death and was appointed special administatrix. Jose and Tasiana entered upon a compromise agreement, but Tasiana opposed the approval of the compromise agreement. She argues that it was no valid, because the heirs cannot enter into such kind of agreement without first probating the will of Francisco, and at the time the agreement was made, the will was still being probated with the CFI of Nueva Ecija. ISSUE: W/N the compromise agreement is valid, even if the will of Francisco has not yet been probated. HELD: YES, the compromise agreement is valid. The agreement stipulated that Tasiana will receive P800,000 as full payment for her hereditary share in the estate of Francisco and Josefa. There was here no attempt to settle or distribute the estate of Francisco de Borja among the heirs thereto before the probate of his will. The clear object of the contract was merely the conveyance by Tasiana Ongsingco of any and all her individual share and interest, actual or eventual, in the estate of Francisco de Borja and Josefa Tangco. There is no stipulation as to any other claimant, creditor or legatee. And as a hereditary share in a decedent's estate is transmitted or vested immediately from the moment of the death of such causante or predecessor in interest (Civil Code of the Philippines, Art. 777) there is no legal bar to a successor (with requisite contracting capacity) disposing of her or his hereditary share immediately after such death, even if the actual extent of such share is not determined until the subsequent liquidation of the estate. Bonilla v. Barcena FACTS: On March 31, 1975 Fortunata Barcena, mother of minors Rosalio Bonilla and Salvacion Bonilla and wife of Ponciano Bonilla, instituted a civil action in the CFI of Abra, to quiet title over certain parcels of land located in Abra. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that Fortunata Barcena is dead and, therefore, has no legal capacity to sue. In the hearing for the motion to dismiss, counsel for the plaintiff confirmed the death of Fortunata Barcena, and asked for substitution by her minor children and her husband; but the court after the hearing immediately dismissed the case on the ground that a dead person
cannot be a real party in interest and has no legal personality to sue. ISSUE: W/N the CFI erred in dismissing the complaint. HELD: While it is true that a person who is dead cannot sue in court, yet he can be substituted by his heirs in pursuing the case up to its completion. The records of this case show that the death of Fortunata Barcena took place on July 9, 1975 while the complaint was filed on March 31, 1975. This means that when the complaint was filed on March 31, 1975, Fortunata Barcena was still alive, and therefore, the court had acquired jurisdiction over her person. Under Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court "whenever a party to a pending case dies ... it shall be the duty of his attorney to inform the court promptly of such death ... and to give the name and residence of his executor, administrator, guardian or other legal representatives." This duty was complied with by the counsel for the deceased plaintiff when he manifested before the respondent Court that Fortunata Barcena died on July 9, 1975 and asked for the proper substitution of parties in the case. The respondent Court, however, instead of allowing the substitution, dismissed the complaint on the ground that a dead person has no legal personality to sue. This is a grave error. Article 777 of the Civil Code provides "that the rights to the succession are transmitted from the moment of the death of the decedent." From the moment of the death of the decedent, the heirs become the absolute owners of his property, subject to the rights and obligations of the decedent, and they cannot be deprived of their rights thereto except by the methods provided for by law. The moment of death is the determining factor when the heirs acquire a definite right to the inheritance whether such right be pure or contingent. The right of the heirs to the property of the deceased vests in them even before judicial declaration of their being heirs in the testate or intestate proceedings. When Fortunata Barcena, therefore, died, her claim or right to the parcels of land in litigation in Civil Case No. 856, was not extinguished by her death but was transmitted to her heirs upon her death. Her heirs have thus acquired interest in the properties in litigation and became parties in interest in the case. There is, therefore, no reason for the respondent Court not to allow their substitution as parties in interest for the deceased plaintiff. The claim of the deceased plaintiff which is an action to quiet title over the parcels of land in litigation affects primarily and principally property and property rights and therefore is one that survives even after her death. It is, therefore, the duty of the respondent Court to order the legal representative of the deceased plaintiff to appear and to be substituted for her. But what the respondent Court did, upon being informed by the counsel for the deceased plaintiff that the latter was dead, was to dismiss the complaint. This should not have been done for under Section 17, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, it is even the duty of the court, if the legal representative fails to appear, to order the opposing party to procure the appointment of a legal representative of the deceased. Unquestionably, the respondent Court has gravely abused its discretion in not complying with the clear provision of the Rules of Court in dismissing the complaint of the plaintiff in Civil Case No. 856 and refusing the substitution of parties in the case. INTESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE VITO BORROMEO, PATROCINIO BORROMEO-HERRERA v. FORTUNATO BORROMEO and HON. FRANCISCO P. BURGOS, Judge of the CFI Cebu Branch II FACTS: Vito Borromeo, a widower and permanent resident of Cebu City, died on March 13, 1952, in Paranaque, Rizal at the age of 88 years, without forced heirs but leaving extensive properties in the province of Cebu. On April 19, 1952, Jose Junquera filed with the Court of First Instance of Cebu a petition for the probate of a one page document as the last will and testament left by the said deceased, devising all his properties to Tomas, Fortunato and Amelia, all surnamed Borromeo, in equal and undivided shares, and designating Junquera as executor thereof. After due trial, the probate court held that the document presented as the will of the deceased was a forgery. The testate proceedings was converted into an intestate proceedings. After determining the intestate heirs of the decedent, the court ordered that the assets of the intestate estate of Vito Borromeo shall be divided into 4/9 and 5/9 groups and distributed in equal and equitable shares among the 9 declared intestate heirs. On August 25, 1972, respondent Fortunato Borromeo, who had earlier claimed as heir under the forged will, filed a motion before the trial court praying that he be declared as one of the heirs of the deceased Vito Borromeo, alleging that he is an illegitimate son of the deceased and that in the declaration of heirs made by the trial court, he was omitted, in disregard of the law making him a forced heir entitled to receive a legitime like all other forced heirs. As an acknowledged illegitimate child, he stated that he was entitled to a legitime equal in every case to four-fifths of the legitime of an acknowledged natural child. Finding that the motion of Fortunato Borromeo was already barred by the order of the court dated April 12, 1969 declaring the persons named therein as the legal heirs of the deceased Vito Borromeo, the court dismissed the motion on June 25, 1973. Fortunato Borromeo filed a motion for reconsideration. In the memorandum he submitted to support his motion for reconsideration, Fortunato changed the basis for his claim to a portion of the estate. He asserted and incorporated a Waiver of Hereditary Rights dated July 31, 1967, supposedly signed by Pilar N. Borromeo, Maria B. Putong, Jose Borromeo, Canuto V. Borromeo, Jr., Salud Borromeo, Patrocinio Borromeo-Herrera, Marcial Borromeo, Asuncion Borromeo, Federico V. Borromeo, Consuelo B. Morales, Remedios Alfonso and Amelinda B. Talam In the waiver, five of the nine heirs relinquished to Fortunato their shares in the disputed estate. The motion was opposed on the ground that the trial court, acting as a probate court, had no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the claim; that respondent Fortunato Borromeo is estopped from asserting the waiver agreement; that the waiver agreement is void as it was executed before the declaration of heirs; that the same is void having been executed before the distribution of the estate and before the acceptance of the inheritance; and that it is void ab initio and inexistent for lack of subject matter.
On December 24, 1974, after due hearing, the trial court concluding that the five declared heirs who signed the waiver agreement assigning their hereditary rights to Fortunato Borromeo had lost the same rights, declared the latter as entitled to 5/9 of the estate of Vito Borromeo. It is argued by the petitioner that the document entitled " waiver of Hereditary Rights" executed on July 31, 1967, aside from having been cancelled and revoked on June 29, 1968, by Tomas L. Borromeo, Fortunato Borromeo and Amelia Borromeo, is without force and effect because there can be no effective waiver of hereditary rights before there has been a valid acceptance of the inheritance the heirs intend to transfer. Pursuant to Article 1043 of the Civil Code, to make acceptance or repudiation of inheritance valid, the person must be certain of the death of the one from whom he is to inherit and of his right to the inheritance. Since the petitioner and her co-heirs were not certain of their right to the inheritance until they were declared heirs, their rights were, therefore, uncertain. This view, according to the petitioner, is also supported by Article 1057 of the same Code which directs heirs, devicees, and legatees to signify their acceptance or repudiation within thirty days after the court has issued an order for the distribution of the estate. Respondent Fortunato Borromeo on the other hand, contends that under Article 1043 of the Civil Code there is no need for a person to be first declared as heir before he can accept or repudiate an inheritance. What is required is that he must first be certain of the death of the person from whom he is to inherit and that he must be certain of his right to the inheritance. He points out that at the time of the signing of the waiver document on July 31, 1967, the signatories to the waiver document were certain that Vito Borromeo was already dead as well as of their rights to the inheritance as shown in the waiver document itself. ISSUE: Whether or not an acceptance or renunciation of inheritance, in order to be valid, must be preceded by a court declaration that the person making the acceptance or renunciation is indeed an heir. RULING: No. The prevailing jurisprudence on waiver of hereditary rights is that "the properties included in an existing inheritance cannot be considered as belonging to third persons with respect to the heirs, who by fiction of law continue the personality of the former. Nor do such properties have the character of future property, because the heirs acquire a right to succession from the moment of the death of the deceased, by principle established in article 657 and applied by article 661 of the Civil Code, according to which the heirs succeed the deceased by the mere fact of death. More or less, time may elapse from the moment of the death of the deceased until the heirs enter into possession of the hereditary property, but the acceptance in any event retroacts to the moment of the death, in accordance with article 989 of the Civil Code. The right is vested, although conditioned upon the adjudication of the corresponding hereditary portion." The heirs, therefore, could waive their hereditary rights in 1967 even if the order to partition the estate was issued only in 1969. In this case, however, the purported "Waiver of Hereditary Rights" cannot be considered to be effective. For a waiver to exist, three elements are essential: (1) the existence of a right; (2) the knowledge of the existence thereof; and (3) an intention to relinquish such right. The intention to waive a right or advantage must be shown clearly and convincingly, and when the only proof of intention rests in what a party does, his act should be so manifestly consistent with, and indicative of an intent to, voluntarily relinquish the particular right or advantage that no other reasonable explanation of his conduct is possible. The circumstances of this case show that the signatories to the waiver document did not have the clear and convincing intention to relinquish their rights, Thus: (1) On October 27, 1967. Fortunato, Tomas, and Amelia Borromeo filed a pleading entitled "Compliance" wherein they submitted a proposal for the amicable settlement of the case. In that Compliance, they proposed to concede to all the eight (8) intestate heirs of Vito Borromeo all properties, personal and real, including all cash and sums of money in the hands of the Special Administrator, as of October 31, 1967, not contested or claimed by them in any action then pending in the Court of First Instance of Cebu. In turn, the heirs would waive and concede to them all the 14 contested lots. In this document, the respondent recognizes and concedes that the petitioner, like the other signatories to the waiver document, is an heir of the deceased Vito Borromeo, entitled to share in the estate. This shows that the "Waiver of Hereditary Rights" was never meant to be what the respondent now purports it to be. Had the intent been otherwise, there would not be any reason for Fortunato, Tomas, and Amelia Borromeo to mention the heirs in the offer to settle the case amicably, and offer to concede to them parts of the estate of the deceased; (2) On April 21 and 30, 1969, the majority of the declared heirs executed an Agreement on how the estate they inherited shall be distributed. This Agreement of Partition was approved by the trial court on August 15, 1969; (3) On June 29, 1968, the petitioner, among others, signed a document entitled Deed of Assignment" purporting to transfer and assign in favor of the respondent and Tomas and Amelia Borromeo all her (Patrocinio B. Herrera's) rights, interests, and participation as an intestate heir in the estate of the deceased Vito Borromeo. The stated consideration for said assignment was P100,000.00; (4) On the same date, June 29, 1968, the respondent Tomas, and Amelia Borromeo (assignees in the aforementioned deed of assignment) in turn executed a "Deed of Reconveyance" in favor of the heirs-assignors named in the same deed of assignment. The stated consideration was P50,000.00; (5) A Cancellation of Deed of Assignment and Deed of Reconveyance was signed by Tomas Borromeo and Amelia Borromeo on October 15, 1968, while Fortunato Borromeo signed this document on March 24, 1969. Rioferio v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 129008 FACTS: This Petition for Review on Certiorari, under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeks to set aside the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 42053 dated January 31, 1997, as well as its Resolution dated March 26, 1997, denying petitioners motion for reconsideration.
On May 13, 1995, Alfonso P. Orfinada, Jr. died without a will in Angeles City leaving several personal and real properties located in Angeles City, Dagupan City and Kalookan City. He also left a widow, respondent Esperanza P. Orfinada, whom he married on July 11, 1960 and with whom he had seven children who are the herein respondents, namely: Lourdes P. Orfinada, Alfonso Clyde P. Orfinada, Nancy P. Orfinada-Happenden, Alfonso James P. Orfinada, Christopher P. Orfinada, Alfonso Mike P. Orfinada (deceased) and Angelo P. Orfinada. Apart from the respondents, the demise of the decedent left in mourning his paramour and their children. They are petitioner Teodora Riofero, who became a part of his life when he entered into an extra-marital relationship with her during the subsistence of his marriage to Esperanza sometime in 1965, and co-petitioners Veronica, Alberto and Rowena. On November 14, 1995, respondents Alfonso James and Lourdes Orfinada discovered that on June 29, 1995, petitioner Teodora Rioferio and her children executed anExtrajudicial Settlement of Estate of a Deceased Person with Quitclaim involving the properties of the estate of the decedent located in Dagupan City and that accordingly, the Registry of Deeds in Dagupan issued Certificates of Titles Nos. 63983, 63984 and 63985 in favor of petitioners Teodora Rioferio, Veronica Orfinada-Evangelista, Alberto Orfinada and Rowena Orfinada-Ungos. Respondents also found out that petitioners were able to obtain a loan of P700,000.00 from the Rural Bank of Mangaldan Inc. by executing a Real Estate Mortgage over the properties subject of the extra-judicial settlement. On December 1, 1995, respondent Alfonso Clyde P. Orfinada III filed a Petition for Letters of Administration docketed as S.P. Case No. 5118 before the Regional Trial Court of Angeles City, praying that letters of administration encompassing the estate of Alfonso P. Orfinada, Jr. be issued to him. On December 4, 1995, respondents filed a Complaint for the Annulment/Rescission of Extra Judicial Settlement of Estate of a Deceased Person with Quitclaim, Real Estate Mortgage and Cancellation of Transfer Certificate of Titles with Nos. 63983, 63985 and 63984 and Other Related Documents with Damages against petitioners, the Rural Bank of Mangaldan, Inc. and the Register of Deeds of Dagupan City before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 42, Dagupan City. On February 5, 1996, petitioners filed their Answer to the aforesaid complaint interposing the defense that the property subject of the contested deed of extra-judicial settlement pertained to the properties originally belonging to the parents of Teodora Riofero and that the titles thereof were delivered to her as an advance inheritance but the decedent had managed to register them in his name. Petitioners also raised the affirmative defense that respondents are not the real parties-in-interest but rather the Estate of Alfonso O. Orfinada, Jr. in view of the pendency of the administration proceedings. On April 29, 1996, petitioners filed a Motion to Set Affirmative Defenses for Hearing on the aforesaid ground. The lower court denied the motion in its Order dated June 27, 1996, on the ground that respondents, as heirs, are the real parties-in-interest especially in the absence of an administrator who is yet to be appointed in S.P. Case No. 5118. Petitioners moved for its reconsideration but the motion was likewise denied. This prompted petitioners to file before the Court of Appeals their Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court docketed as CA G.R. S.P. No. 42053. Petitioners averred that the RTC committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the assailed order which denied the dismissal of the case on the ground that the proper party to file the complaint for the annulment of the extrajudicial settlement of the estate of the deceased is the estate of the decedent and not the respondents. The Court of Appeals rendered the assailed Decision dated January 31, 1997, stating that it discerned no grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction by the public respondent judge when he denied petitioners motion to set affirmative defenses for hearing in view of its discretionary nature. A Motion for Reconsideration was filed by petitioners but it was denied. Hence, the petition before this Court. ISSUE: The issue presented by the petitioners before this Court is whether the heirs have legal standing to prosecute the rights belonging to the deceased subsequent to the commencement of the administration proceedings. HELD: Petitioners vehemently fault the lower court for denying their motion to set the case for preliminary hearing on their affirmative defense that the proper party to bring the action is the estate of the decedent and not the respondents. It must be stressed that the holding of a preliminary hearing on an affirmative defense lies in the discretion of the court. This is clear from the Rules of Court, thus: SEC. 5. Pleadings grounds as affirmative defenses.- Any of the grounds for dismissal provided for in this rule, except improper venue, may be pleaded as an affirmative defense, and a preliminary hearing may be had thereon as if a motion to dismiss had been filed. (Emphasis supplied.) Certainly, the incorporation of the word may in the provision is clearly indicative of the optional character of the preliminary hearing. The word denotes discretion and cannot be construed as having a mandatory effect. Subsequently, the electivity of the proceeding was firmed up beyond cavil by the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure with the inclusion of the phrase in the discretion of the Court, apart from the retention of the word may in Section 6, in Rule 16 thereof. Just as no blame of abuse of discretion can be laid on the lower courts doorstep for not hearing petitioners affirmative defense, it cannot likewise be faulted for recognizing the legal standing of the respondents as heirs to bring the suit. Pending the filing of administration proceedings, the heirs without doubt have legal personality to bring suit in behalf of the estate of the decedent in accordance with the provision of Article 777 of the New Civil Code that (t)he rights to succession are transmitted from the moment of the death of the decedent. The provision in turn is the foundation of the principle that the property, rights and obligations to the extent and value of the inheritance of a person are transmitted through his death to another or others by his will or by operation of law. Even if administration proceedings have already been commenced, the heirs may still bring the suit if an administrator has not yet been appointed. This is the proper modality despite the total lack of advertence to the heirs in the rules on party representation, namely Section 3, Rule 3 and Section 2, Rule 87 of the Rules of Court. In fact, in the case of Gochan v. Young, this
Court recognized the legal standing of the heirs to represent the rights and properties of the decedent under administration pending the appointment of an administrator. Thus: The above-quoted rules, while permitting an executor or administrator to represent or to bring suits on behalf of the deceased, do not prohibit the heirs from representing the deceased. These rules are easily applicable to cases in which an administrator has already been appointed. But no rule categorically addresses the situation in which special proceedings for the settlement of an estate have already been instituted, yet no administrator has been appointed. In such instances, the heirs cannot be expected to wait for the appointment of an administrator; then wait further to see if the administrator appointed would care enough to file a suit to protect the rights and the interests of the deceased; and in the meantime do nothing while the rights and the properties of the decedent are violated or dissipated. Even if there is an appointed administrator, jurisprudence recognizes two exceptions, viz: (1) if the executor or administrator is unwilling or refuses to bring suit; and (2) when the administrator is alleged to have participated in the act complained of and he is made a party defendant. Evidently, the necessity for the heirs to seek judicial relief to recover property of the estate is as compelling when there is no appointed administrator, if not more, as where there is an appointed administrator but he is either disinclined to bring suit or is one of the guilty parties himself. All told, therefore, the rule that the heirs have no legal standing to sue for the recovery of property of the estate during the pendency of administration proceedings has three exceptions, the third being when there is no appointed administrator such as in this case. As the appellate court did not commit an error of law in upholding the order of the lower court, recourse to this Court is not warranted. [Pending the filing of administration proceedings, the heirs without doubt have legal personality to bring suit in behalf of the estate of the decedent in accordance with the provision of Article 777 of the New Civil Code “that (t)he rights to succession are transmitted from the moment of the death of the decedent.” The provision in turn is the foundation of the principle that the property, rights and obligations to the extent and value of the inheritance of a person are transmitted through his death to another or others by his will or by operation of law. Even if administration proceedings have already been commenced, the heirs may still bring the suit if an administrator has not yet been appointed. The heirs cannot be expected to wait for the appointment of an administrator; then wait further to see if the administrator appointed would care enough to file a suit to protect the rights and the interests of the deceased; and in the meantime do nothing while the rights and the properties of the decedent are violated or dissipated] POLLY CAYETANO vs. HON. TOMAS T. LEONIDAS and NENITA CAMPOS PAGUIA FACTS: Adoracion C. Campos died, leaving her father, petitioner Hermogenes Campos and her sisters, private respondent Nenita C. Paguia, Remedios C. Lopez and Marieta C. Medina as the surviving heirs. As Hermogenes Campos was the only compulsory heir, he executed an Affidavit of Adjudication whereby he adjudicated unto himself the ownership of the entire estate of the deceased Adoracion Campos. Eleven months after, Nenita filed a petition for the reprobate of a will of the deceased, which was allegedly executed and probated in accordance with US laws, and for her appointment as administratrix of the local estate of the deceased testatrix. Petitioner filed opposition alleging that thewill in question is a forgery; that the intrinsic provisions of the will are null and void; and that even if pertinent American laws on intrinsic provisions are invoked, the same could not apply inasmuch as they would work injustice and injury to him. But petitioner through his counsel later filed a Motion to Dismiss Opposition (With Waiver of Rights or Interests) stating that he "has been able to verify the veracity thereof (of the will) and now confirms the same to be truly the probated will of his daughter Adoracion." Respondent judge issued an order allowing probate of the will with Nenita appointed as administratrix. Hermogenes filed a petition for relief, praying that the order be set aside on the ground that the withdrawal of his opposition was secured through fraudulent means. He also alleged that the lawyer who filed the withdrawal of the opposition was not his counsel-of-record in the special proceedings case. When the case was called for hearing counsel for petitioner tried to argue his motion to vacate instead of adducing evidence in support of the petition for relief. Thus, the respondent judge issued an order dismissing the petition for relief for failure to present evidence in support thereof. Meanwhile, petitioner Hermogenes died and left a will, which, incidentally has been questioned by the respondent, his children and forced heirs as, on its face, patently null and void, and a fabrication, appointing Polly Cayetano as the executrix of his last will and testament. Cayetano, therefore, filed a motion to substitute herself as petitioner in the instant case which was granted. A motion to dismiss the petition on the ground that the rights of the petitioner Hermogenes Campos merged upon his death with the rights of the respondent and her sisters, only remaining children and forced heirs was denied. ISSUES -Whether or not respondent judge acted with grave abuse of discretion when he allowed the withdrawal of the petitioner's opposition to the reprobate of the will -Whether or not a forced heir can be divested of his legitime by a decree admitting a will to probate in which no provision is made for the forced heir in complete disregard of Law of Succession -Whether or not respondent judge acquired jurisdiction over the testate case, the fact that the Testator at the time of death was a resident of Cavite HELD: We find no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the respondent judge. No proof was adduced to support petitioner's contention that the motion to withdraw was secured through fraudulent means and that Atty. Franco Loyola was not his counsel of record. The records show that after the firing of the contested motion, the petitioner at a later date, filed a manifestation wherein he confirmed that the Motion to Dismiss Opposition was his voluntary act and deed. Moreover, at the time the motion was filed, the petitioner's former counsel, Atty. Lagrosa had long withdrawn from the case and had been substituted by Atty. Franco Loyola who in turn filed the motion. The present petitioner cannot, therefore, maintain that the old man's attorney of record was Atty. Lagrosa at the time of filing the motion. Since the withdrawal was in order, the respondent judge acted correctly in hearing the
probate of the will ex-parte, there being no other opposition to the same. The next issue raised deals with the validity of the provisions of the will. As a general rule, the probate court's authority is limited only to the extrinsic validity of the will, the due execution thereof, the testatrix's testamentary capacity and the compliance with the requisites or solemnities prescribed by law. The intrinsic validity of the will normally comes only after the court has declared that the will has been duly authenticated. However, where practical considerations demand that the intrinsic validity of the will be passed upon, even before it is probated, the court should meet the issue. Petitioner maintains that since the respondent judge allowed the reprobate of Adoracion's will, Hermogenes C. Campos was divested of his legitime which was reserved by the law for him. This contention is without merit. Although on its face, the will appeared to have preterited the petitioner and thus, the respondent judge should have denied its reprobate outright, the private respondents have sufficiently established that Adoracion was, at the time of her death, an American citizen and resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. Article 16 par. (2) and 1039 of the Civil Code provide: Art. 16 par. (2): However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the order of succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever may be the nature of the property and regardless of the country wherein said property may be found. Art. 1039: Capacity to succeed is governed by the law of the nation of the decedent. Finally, we find the contention of the petition as to the issue of jurisdiction utterly devoid of merit. Under Rule 73, Section 1, of the Rules of Court, it is provided that: SECTION 1. Where estate of deceased persons settled. — If the decedent is an inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an alien, his will shall be proved, or letters of administration granted, and his estate settled, in the Court of First Instance in the province in which he resided at the time of his death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the Court of First Instance of any province in which he had estate. The court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. The jurisdiction assumed by a court, so far as it depends on the place of residence of the decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not be contested in a suit or proceeding, except in an appeal from that court, in the original case, or when the want of jurisdiction appears on the record. Therefore, the settlement of the estate of Adoracion Campos was correctly filed with the CFI of Manila where she had an estate since it was alleged and proven that Adoracion at the time of her death was a US citizen and resident and not a "usual resident of Cavite" as alleged by the petitioner. Moreover, petitioner is now estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the probate court in the petition for relief. It is a settled rule that a party cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a court to secure affirmative relief, against his opponent and after failing to obtain such relief, repudiate or question that same jurisdiction. Parish Priest of Victoria v. Rigor FACTS: This case is about the efficaciousness or enforceability of a devise of ricelands located at Guimba, Nueva Ecija, with a total area of around forty- four hectares That devise was made in the will of the late Father Pascual Rigor, a native of Victoria Tarlac, in favor of his nearest male relative who would study for the priesthood. The parish priest of Victoria, who claimed to be a trustee of the said lands, appealed to this Court from the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the order of the probate court declaring that the said devise was inoperative (Rigor vs. Parish Priest of the Roman Catholic Church of Victoria, Tarlac, CA-G.R. No. 24319-R, August 1, 1963). The record discloses that Father Rigor, the parish priest of Pulilan, Bulacan, died on August 9, 1935, leaving a will executed on October 29, 1933 which was probated by the Court of First Instance of Tarlac in its order of December 5, 1935. Named as devisees in the will were the testators nearest relatives, namely, his three sisters: Florencia Rigor-Escobar, Belina Rigor-Manaloto and Nestora Rigor-Quiambao. The testator gave a devise to his cousin, Fortunato Gamalinda. To implement the foregoing bequest, the administratix in 1940 submitted a project containing the following item: [LEGACY OF THE CHURCH: That it be adjudicated in favor of the legacy purported to be given to the nearest male relative who shall take the priesthood, and in the interim to be administered by the actual Catholic Priest of the Roman Catholic Church of Victoria, Tarlac, Philippines, or his successors, the real properties] Judge Roman A. Cruz in his order of August 15, 1940, approving the project of partition, directed that after payment of the obligations of the estate (including the sum of P3,132.26 due to the church of the Victoria parish) the administratrix should deliver to the devisees their respective shares. It may be noted that the administratrix and Judge Cruz did not bother to analyze the meaning and implications of Father Rigor's bequest to his nearest male relative who would study for the priesthood. Inasmuch as no nephew of the testator claimed the devise and as the administratrix and the legal heirs believed that the parish priest of Victoria had no right to administer the ricelands, the same were not delivered to that ecclesiastic. The testate proceeding remained pending. About thirteen years after the approval of the project of partition, or on February 19, 1954, the parish priest of Victoria filed in the pending testate proceeding a petition praying for the appointment of a new administrator (succeeding the deceased administration Florencia Rigor), who should deliver to the church the said ricelands, and further praying that the possessors thereof be ordered to render an accounting of the fruits. The probate court granted the petition. A new administrator was appointed. On January 31, 1957 the parish priest filed another petition for the delivery of the ricelands to the church as trustee.
The intestate heirs of Father Rigor countered with a petition dated March 25, 1957 praying that the bequest be d inoperative and that they be adjudged as the persons entitled to the said ricelands since, as admitted by the parish priest of Victoria, "no nearest male relative of" the testator "has ever studied for the priesthood" (pp. 25 and 35, Record on Appeal). That petition was opposed by the parish priest of Victoria. Finding that petition to be meritorious, the lower court, through Judge Bernabe de Aquino, declared the bequest inoperative and adjudicated the ricelands to the testator's legal heirs in his order of June 28, 1957. The parish priest filed two motions for reconsideration. Judge De Aquino granted the respond motion for reconsideration in his order of December 10, 1957 on the ground that the testator had a grandnephew named Edgardo G. Cunanan (the grandson of his first cousin) who was a seminarian in the San Jose Seminary of the Jesuit Fathers in Quezon City. The administrator was directed to deliver the ricelands to the parish priest of Victoria as trustee. The legal heirs appealed to the Court of Appeals. It reversed that order. It held that Father Rigor had created a testamentary trust for his nearest male relative who would take the holy orders but that such trust could exist only for twenty years because to enforce it beyond that period would violate "the rule against perpetuities. It ruled that since no legatee claimed the ricelands within twenty years after the testator's death, the same should pass to his legal heirs, citing articles 888 and 912(2) of the old Civil Code and article 870 of the new Civil Code. The parish priest in this appeal contends that the Court of Appeals erred in not finding that the testator created a public charitable trust and in not liberally construing the testamentary provisions so as to render the trust operative and to prevent intestacy. As refutation, the legal heirs argue that the Court of Appeals d the bequest inoperative because no one among the testator's nearest male relatives had studied for the priesthood and not because the trust was a private charitable trust. According to the legal heirs, that factual finding is binding on this Court. They point out that appellant priest's change of theory cannot be countenanced in this appeal . HELD: In this case, as in cases involving the law of contracts and statutory construction, where the intention of the contracting parties or of the lawmaking body is to be ascertained, the primary issue is the determination of the testator's intention which is the law of the case (dicat testor et erit lex. Santos vs. Manarang, 27 Phil. 209, 215; Rodriguez vs. Court of Appeals, L-28734, March 28, 1969, 27 SCRA 546). The will of the testator is the first and principal law in the matter of testaments. When his intention is clearly and precisely expressed, any interpretation must be in accord with the plain and literal meaning of his words, except when it may certainly appear that his intention was different from that literally expressed (In re Estate of Calderon, 26 Phil. 333). The intent of the testator is the cardinal rule in the construction of wills." It is "the life and soul of a will It is "the first greatest rule, the sovereign guide, the polestar, in giving effect to a will". (See Dissent of Justice Moreland in Santos vs. Manarang, 27 Phil. 209, 223, 237-8.) One canon in the interpretation of the testamentary provisions is that "the testator's intention is to be ascertained from the words of the wilt taking into consideration the circumstances under which it was made", but excluding the testator's oral declarations as to his intention (Art. 789, Civil Code of the Philippines). To ascertain Father Rigor's intention, it may be useful to make the following re-statement of the provisions of his will. 1. that he bequeathed the ricelands to anyone of his nearest male relatives who would pursue an ecclesiastical career until his ordination as a priest. 2. That the devisee could not sell the ricelands. 3. That the devisee at the inception of his studies in sacred theology could enjoy and administer the ricelands, and once ordained as a priest, he could continue enjoying and administering the same up to the time of his death but the devisee would cease to enjoy and administer the ricelands if he discontinued his studies for the priesthood. 4. That if the devisee became a priest, he would be obligated to celebrate every year twenty masses with prayers for the repose of the souls of Father Rigor and his parents. 5. That if the devisee is excommunicated, he would be divested of the legacy and the administration of the riceland would pass to the incumbent parish priest of Victoria and his successors. 6. That during the interval of time that there is no qualified devisee as contemplated above, the administration of the ricelands would be under the responsibility of the incumbent parish priest of Victoria and his successors, and 7. That the parish priest-administrator of the ricelands would accumulate annually the products thereof, obtaining or getting from the annual produce five percent thereof for his administration and the fees corresponding to the twenty masses with prayers that the parish priest would celebrate for each year, depositing the balance of the income of the devise in the bank in the name of his bequest. From the foregoing testamentary provisions, it may be deduced that the testator intended to devise the ricelands to his nearest male relative who would become a priest, who was forbidden to sell the ricelands, who would lose the devise if he discontinued his studies for the priesthood, or having been ordained a priest, he was excommunicated, and who would be obligated to say annually twenty masses with prayers for the repose of the souls of the testator and his parents. On the other hand, it is clear that the parish priest of Victoria would administer the ricelands only in two situations: one, during the interval of time that no nearest male relative of the testator was studying for the priesthood and two, in case the testator's nephew became a priest and he was excommunicated. What is not clear is the duration of "el intervalo de tiempo que no haya legatario acondicionado", or how long after the testator's death would it be determined that he had a nephew who would pursue an ecclesiastical vocation. It is that patent ambiguity that has brought about the controversy between the parish priest of Victoria and the testator's legal heirs.
Interwoven with that equivocal provision is the time when the nearest male relative who would study for the priesthood should be determined. Did the testator contemplate only his nearest male relative at the time of his death? Or did he have in mind any of his nearest male relatives at anytime after his death? We hold that the said bequest refers to the testator's nearest male relative living at the time of his death and not to any indefinite time thereafter. "In order to be capacitated to inherit, the heir, devisee or legatee must be living at the moment the succession opens, except in case of representation, when it is proper" (Art. 1025, Civil Code). The said testamentary provisions should be sensibly or reasonably construed. To construe them as referring to the testator's nearest male relative at anytime after his death would render the provisions difficult to apply and create uncertainty as to the disposition of his estate. That could not have been his intention. In 1935, when the testator died, his nearest leagal heirs were his three sisters or second-degree relatives, Mrs. Escobar, Mrs. Manaloto and Mrs. Quiambao. Obviously, when the testator specified his nearest male relative, he must have had in mind his nephew or a son of his sister, who would be his third-degree relative, or possibly a grandnephew. But since he could not prognosticate the exact date of his death or state with certitude what category of nearest male relative would be living at the time of his death, he could not specify that his nearest male relative would be his nephew or grandnephews (the son of his nephew or niece) and so he had to use the term "nearest male relative". It is contended by the legal heirs that the said devise was in reality intended for Ramon Quiambao, the testator's nephew and godchild, who was the son of his sister, Mrs. Quiambao. To prove that contention, the legal heirs presented in the lower court the affidavit of Beatriz Gamalinda, the maternal grandmother of Edgardo Cunanan, who deposed that after Father Rigor's death her own son, Valentin Gamalinda, Jr., did not claim the devise, although he was studying for the priesthood at the San Carlos Seminary, because she (Beatriz) knew that Father Rigor had intended that devise for his nearest male relative beloning to the Rigor family (pp. 105-114, Record on Appeal). Mrs. Gamalinda further deposed that her own grandchild, Edgardo G. Cunanan, was not the one contemplated in Father Rigor's will and that Edgardo's father told her that he was not consulted by the parish priest of Victoria before the latter filed his second motion for reconsideration which was based on the ground that the testator's grandnephew, Edgardo, was studying for the priesthood at the San Jose Seminary. Parenthetically, it should be stated at this juncture that Edgardo ceased to be a seminarian in 1961. For that reason, the legal heirs apprised the Court of Appeals that the probate court's order adjudicating the ricelands to the parish priest of Victoria had no more leg to stand on (p. 84, Appellant's brief). Of course, Mrs. Gamalinda's affidavit, which is tantamount to evidence aliunde as to the testator's intention and which is hearsay, has no probative value. Our opinion that the said bequest refers to the testator's nephew who was living at the time of his death, when his succession was opened and the successional rights to his estate became vested, rests on a judicious and unbiased reading of the terms of the will. Had the testator intended that the "cualquier pariente mio varon mas cercano que estudie la camera eclesiatica" would include indefinitely anyone of his nearest male relatives born after his death, he could have so specified in his will He must have known that such a broad provision would suspend for an unlimited period of time the efficaciousness of his bequest. What then did the testator mean by "el intervalo de tiempo que no haya legatario acondicionado"? The reasonable view is that he was referring to a situation whereby his nephew living at the time of his death, who would like to become a priest, was still in grade school or in high school or was not yet in the seminary. In that case, the parish priest of Victoria would administer the ricelands before the nephew entered the seminary. But the moment the testator's nephew entered the seminary, then he would be entitled to enjoy and administer the ricelands and receive the fruits thereof. In that event, the trusteeship would be terminated. Following that interpretation of the will the inquiry would be whether at the time Father Rigor died in 1935 he had a nephew who was studying for the priesthood or who had manifested his desire to follow the ecclesiastical career. That query is categorically answered in paragraph 4 of appellant priest's petitions of February 19, 1954 and January 31, 1957. He unequivocally alleged therein that "not male relative of the late (Father) Pascual Rigor has ever studied for the priesthood" (pp. 25 and 35, Record on Appeal). Inasmuch as the testator was not survived by any nephew who became a priest, the unavoidable conclusion is that the bequest in question was ineffectual or inoperative. Therefore, the administration of the ricelands by the parish priest of Victoria, as envisaged in the wilt was likewise inoperative. The appellant in contending that a public charitable trust was constituted by the testator in is favor assumes that he was a trustee or a substitute devisee That contention is untenable. A reading of the testamentary provisions regarding the disputed bequest not support the view that the parish priest of Victoria was a trustee or a substitute devisee in the event that the testator was not survived by a nephew who became a priest. It should be understood that the parish priest of Victoria could become a trustee only when the testator's nephew living at the time of his death, who desired to become a priest, had not yet entered the seminary or, having been ordained a priest, he was excommunicated. Those two contingencies did not arise, and could not have arisen in this case because no nephew of the testator manifested any intention to enter the seminary or ever became a priest. The Court of Appeals correctly ruled that this case is covered by article 888 of the old Civil Code, now article 956, which provides that if "the bequest for any reason should be inoperative, it shall be merged into the estate, except in cases of substitution and those in which the right of accretion exists" ("el legado ... por qualquier causa, no tenga efecto se refundira en la masa de la herencia, fuera de los casos de sustitucion y derecho de acrecer"). This case is also covered by article 912(2) of the old Civil Code, now article 960 (2), which provides that legal succession takes place when the will "does not dispose of all that belongs to the testator." There being no substitution nor accretion as to the said ricelands the same should be distributed among the testator's legal heirs. The effect is as if the testator had made no disposition as to the said ricelands.
The Civil Code recognizes that a person may die partly testate and partly intestate, or that there may be mixed succession. The old rule as to the indivisibility of the testator's win is no longer valid. Thus, if a conditional legacy does not take effect, there will be intestate succession as to the property recovered by the said legacy (Macrohon Ong Ham vs. Saavedra, 51 Phil. 267). Reyes v. CA 281 SCRA 277 | Tan FACTS: This case involves a 383 sq.m. parcel of land owned by pettitioner’s and respondents’ father. Petitioner alleges that a Deed of Exrajudicial Partition (Deed) was entered into between him and the respondents. Petitioner managed to register 335 sq.m. of the land under his name; while 50 sq.m. of the land was registered under the name of his sister, Paula (one of the respondents). After discovering the registration of the Deed, respondents denied having knowledge of its execution and disclaimed having signed the same; nor did they ever waive their rights, shares and interest in the subject parcel of land. According to respondents, subject Deed was fraudulently prepared by petitioner and that their signatures thereon were forged. They also assert that one Atty. Jose Villena, the Notary Public who notarized the said Deed was not even registered in the list of accredited Notaries Public of Pasay City. Thereafter, petitioner executed a Deed of Absolute Sale selling 240 square meters of the land to his children. After the property was partitioned, petitioner, his children and private respondent Paula allegedly executed a Deed of Co-owners' Partition dividing the property among themselves. This led the respondents to file a Complaint for "Annulment of Sale and Damages With Prayer for Preliminary Injunction/Restraining Order" before the RTC, which ruled that private respondents' signatures on the questioned Deed of Extrajudicial Partition and Settlement were indeed forged and simulated. The CA affirmed. Hence, this petition. ISSUES: 1. Whether the Deed was forged. 2. Whether petitioner(s) had become absolute owners of the subject property by virtue of acquisitive prescription. RULING: 1. YES. Petitioner(s) cast doubt on the findings of the lower court as affirmed by the Court of Appeals regarding the existence of forgery. Factual findings of the trial court, adopted and confirmed by the Court of Appeals, are final and conclusive and may not be reviewed on appeal. Petitioners' ludicrous claim that private respondents imputed no deception on his part but only forgery of the subject Deed and the simulation of their signatures is nothing short of being oxymoronic. For what is forgery and simulation of signatures if not arrant deception! The allegation made by petitioner that the execution of a public document ratified before a notary public cannot be impugned by the mere denial of the signatory is baseless. It should be noted that there was a finding that the subject Deed was notarized by one Atty. Villena who at that time was not commissioned as a notary in Pasay City. 2. NO. Petitioners cannot justify their ownership and possession of the subject parcel of land since they could not ave been possessors in good faith of the subject parcel of land considering the finding that at the very inception they forged the Deed of Extrajudicial Partition and Settlement which they claim to be the basis for their just title. Having forged the Deed and simulated the signatures of private respondents, petitioners, in fact, are in bad faith. The forged Deed containing private respondents' simulated signatures is a nullity and cannot serve as a just title. There can be no acquisitive prescription considering that the parcel of land in dispute is titled property, i.e., titled in the name of the late Bernardino Reyes, the father of both petitioner Florentino and the private respondents. Samaniego-Celada v. Abena FACTS: Petitioner Paz Samaniego-Celada was the first cousin of decent Margarita S. Mayores (Margarita) while respondent was the decedent’s lifelong companion since 1929. On April 27, 1987, Margarita died single and without any ascending nor descending heirs as her parents, grandparents, and siblings predeceased her. She was survived by her first cousins which included petitioner. Before her death, Margarita executed a will where she bequeathed portions of her undivided shares in real properties to respondent. Margarita also left all her personal properties to respondent whom she likewise designated as sole executor of her will. RTC rendered a decision declaring the last will and testament of Margarita probated and respondent as executor of the will. CA affirmed. ISSUES: (1) W/N the CA erred in not declaring the will invalid for failure to comply with the formalities required by law. – NO (2) W/N it erred in not declaring petitioner and her siblings as the legal heirs of Margarita, and in not issuing letters of administration to petitioner. – NO HELD:
We rule in favor of respondent. (1) A review of the findings of the RTC reveal that petitioner’s arguments lack basis. The RTC correctly held: “About the contestant’s submission that the will is fatally defective for the reason that its attestation clause states that the will is composed of 3 pages while the will, in truth, only consists of 2 pages only because the attestation is not part of the notarial will, the same is not accurate. While it is true that the attestation clause is not a part of the will, the court is of the considered opinion that error in the number of pages of the will as stated in the attestation clause is not material to invalidate the subject will. It must be noted that the subject instrument is consecutively lettered with pages A, B, and C which is sufficient safeguard from the possibility of an omission of some of the pages. The error must have been brought about by the honest belief that the will is the whole instrument consisting of 3 pages inclusive of the attestation clause and the acknowledgement. The position of the court is in consonance with the doctrine of liberal interpretation enunciated in Article 809 of the Civil Code. The Court also rejects the contention that the signatures of the testator were affixed on different occasions as the signature on the first page is allegedly different in size, texture, and appearance as compared to the signatures on the succeeding pages. The picture shows that the testator was affixing her signature in the presence of the instrumental witnesses and the notary. There is no evidence to show that the first signature was procured earlier than February 2, 1987.” We find no reason to disturb the abovementioned findings of the RTC. Since, petitioner and her siblings are not compulsory heirs of the decedent under Article 887 of the Civil Code and as the decedent validly disposed of her properties in a will duly executed and probated, petitioner has no legal right to claim any part of the decedent’s estate. In re: Will and Testament of the deceased REVEREND SANCHO ABADIA, SEVERINA A. VDA. DE ENRIQUEZ, ET AL. v. MIGUEL ABADIA, ET AL. FACTS: On September 6, 1923, Father Sancho Abadia executed a document purporting to be his Last Will and Testament. Resident of the City of Cebu, he died on January 14, 1943. He left properties estimated at P8,000 in value. On October 2, 1946, one Andres Enriquez, one of the legatees, filed a petition for its probate in the Court of First Instance of Cebu. Some cousins and nephews who would inherit the estate of the deceased if he left no will, filed opposition. During the hearing, it was established that Father Sancho wrote out the will in longhand in Spanish which the testator spoke and understood, and that he signed on the left hand margin of the front page of each of the three folios or sheets of which the document is composed, and numbered the same with Arabic numerals, and that he signed his name at the end of his writing at the last page. All this was done in the presence of the three attesting witnesses after telling that it was his last will. The said three witnesses signed their names on the last page after the attestation clause in his presence and in the presence of each other. The trial court found and declared the will to be a holographic will. Although at the time it was executed and at the time of the testator's death, holographic wills were not permitted by law, still, because at the time of the hearing and when the case was to be decided the new Civil Code was already in force, which Code permitted the execution of holographic wills, under a liberal view, and to carry out the intention of the testator which according to the trial court is the controlling factor and may override any defect in form, said trial court by order dated January 24, 1952, admitted to probate the will as the Last Will and Testament of Father Sancho Abadia. The oppositors appealed from that decision, and because only questions of law are involved in the appeal, the case was certified to the Supreme Court by the Court of Appeals. ISSUE: Whether or not a will which purportedly is a holographic will executed before the New Civil Code may be considered for probate as such during the effectivity of the same. RULING: No. At the time Father Abadia died in 1943, holographic wills were not permitted. The law at the time imposed certain requirements for the execution of wills, such as numbering correlatively each page in letters and signing on the left hand margin by the testator and by the three attesting witnesses, requirements which were not complied with. The failure of the testator and his witnesses to sign on the left hand margin of every page vitiates the testament. What is the law to apply to the probate of the will of Father Abadia? May we apply the provisions of the new Civil Code which not allows holographic wills? But article 795 of this same new Civil Code expressly provides: "The validity of a will as to its form depends upon the observance of the law in force at the time it is made." The above provision is but an expression or statement of the weight of authority to the affect that the validity of a will is to be judged not by the law enforce at the time of the testator's death or at the time the supposed will is presented in court for probate or when the petition is decided by the court but at the time the instrument was executed. One reason in support of the rule is that although the will operates upon and after the death of the testator, the wishes of the testator about the disposition of his estate among his heirs and among the legatees is given solemn expression at the time the will is executed, and in reality, the legacy or bequest then becomes a completed act. Of course, there is the view that the intention of the testator should be the ruling and controlling factor and that all adequate remedies and interpretations should be resorted to in order to carry out said intention, and that when statutes passed after the execution of the will and after the death of the testator lessen the formalities required by law for the execution of wills, said subsequent statutes should be applied so as to validate wills defectively executed according to the law in force at the time of execution. However, we should not forget that from the day of the death of the testator, if he leaves a will, the title of the legatees and devisees under it becomes a vested right, protected under the due process clause of the constitution against a subsequent change in the statute adding new legal requirements of execution of wills which would invalidate such a will. By parity of
reasoning, when one executes a will which is invalid for failure to observe and follow the legal requirements at the time of its execution then upon his death he should be regarded and declared as having died intestate, and his heirs will then inherit by intestate succession, and no subsequent law with more liberal requirements or which dispenses with such requirements as to execution should be allowed to validate a defective will and thereby divest the heirs of their vested rights in the estate by intestate succession. The general rule is that the Legislature can not validate void wills. In view of the foregoing, the will concerned is denied probate. FLEUMER v. HIX FACTS: Fleumer, the special administrator of the estate of Edward Randolph Hix appealed from a decision of Judge of First Instance Tuason denying the probate of the document alleged to by the last will and testament of the deceased. Appellee is not authorized to carry on this appeal. We think, however, that the appellant, who appears to have been the moving party in these proceedings, was a "person interested in the allowance or disallowance of a will by a Court of First Instance," and so should be permitted to appeal to the Supreme Court from the disallowance of the will (Code of Civil Procedure, sec. 781, as amended; Villanueva vs. De Leon , 42 Phil., 780). It is theory of the petitioner that the alleged will was executed in Elkins, West Virginia, on November 3, 1925, by Hix who had his residence in that jurisdiction, and that the laws of West Verginia Code, Annotated, by Hogg, Charles E., and as certified to by the Director of the National Library, should govern. ISSUE: Whether or not the laws of West Virginia should govern. RULING: The laws of a foreign jurisdiction do not prove themselves in our courts. the courts of the Philippine Islands are not authorized to take American Union. Such laws must be proved as facts.(In re Estate of Johnson , 39 Phil., 156.) Here the requirements of the law were not met. There was no was printed or published under the authority of the State of West Virginia, as provided in section 300 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Nor was the extract from the law attested by the certificate of the officer having charge of the original, under the sale of the State of West Virginia, as provided in section 301 of the Code of Civil Procedure. No evidence was introduced to show that the extract from the laws of West Virginia was in force at the time the alleged will was executed. Note: In addition, the due execution of the will was not established. The only evidence on this point is to be found in the testimony of the petitioner. Aside from this, there was nothing to indicate that the will was acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two competent witnesses, of that these witnesses subscribed the will in the presence of the testator and of each other as the law of West Virginia seems to require. On the supposition that the witnesses to the will reside without the Philippine Islands, it would then the duty of the petitioner to prove execution by some other means (Code of Civil Procedure, sec. 633.) It was also necessary for the petitioner to prove that the testator had his domicile in West Virginia and not establish this fact consisted of the recitals in the CATHY will and the testimony of the petitioner. Also in beginning administration proceedings originally in the Philippine Islands, the petitioner violated his own theory by attempting to have the principal administration in the Philippine Islands. While the appeal pending submission in this court, the attorney for the appellant presented an unverified petition asking the court to accept as part of the evidence the documents attached to the petition. One of these documents discloses that a paper writing purporting to be the was presented for probate on June 8, 1929, to the clerk of Randolph Country, State of West Virginia, in vacation, and was duly proven by the oaths of Dana Wamsley and Joseph L. MAdden, the subscribing witnesses thereto , and ordered to be recorded and filed. It was shown by another document that, in vacation, on June 8, 1929, the clerk of court of Randolph Country, West Virginia, appointed Claude W. Maxwell as administrator, cum testamento annexo, of the estate of Edward Randolph Hix, deceased. In this connection, it is to be noted that the application for the probate of the will in the Philippines was filed on February 20, 1929, while the proceedings in West Virginia appear to have been initiated on June 8, 1929. These facts are strongly indicative of an intention to make the Philippines the principal administration and West Virginia the ancillary administration. However this may be, no attempt has been made to comply with Civil Procedure, for no hearing on the question of the allowance of a will said to have been proved and allowed in West Virginia has been requested. There is no showing that the deceased left any property at any place other than the Philippine Islands and no contention that he left any in West Virginia. Reference has been made by the parties to a divorce purported to have been awarded Edward Randolph Hix from Annie Cousins Hix on October 8, 1925, in the State of West specific pronouncements on the validity or validity of this alleged divorce. For all of the foregoing, the judgment appealed from will be affirmed, with the costs of this instance against the appellant. Dela Cerna v. Potot FACTS: Spouses Bernabe de la Serna and Gervasia Rebaca, executed a joint last will ad testament where they willed that their 2 parcels of land be given to Manuela Rebaca, their niece and that while each of them are living, he/she will continue to enjoy the fruits of the lands mentioned. Bernabe died. Gervasia submitted the will for probated. By order of Oct. 31, 1939, the Court admitted for probate the said will but only for the part of Bernabe. When Gervasia died, another petition for probate was instituted by Manuela, but because she and her attorney failed to appear in court, the petition was dismissed. When the same was heard, the CFI declared the will void for being executed contrary to the prohibition on joint wills. On appeal, the order was reversed.
ISSUE: W/N the will may be probated. HELD: Admittedly the probate of the will in 1939 was erroneous, however, because it was probated by a court of competent jurisdiction it has conclusive effect and a final judgment rendered on a petition for the probate of a will is binding upon the whole world. However, this is only with respect to the estate of the husband but cannot affect the estate of the wife; considering that a joint will is a separate will of each testator. The joint will being prohibited by law, its validity, in so far as the estate of the wife is concerned, must be reexamine and adjudicated de novo. The undivided interest of the wife should pass upon her death to her intestate heirs and not to the testamentary heir. Thus as to the disposition of the wife, the will cannot be given effect. A decree of probate decree is conclusive on the due execution and the formal validity of the will subject to such probate. Estate of Amos Bellis FACTS: Amos Bellis, born in Texas, was a citizen of the State of Texas and of the United States. He had 5 legitimate children with his wife, Mary Mallen, whom he had divorced, 3 legitimate children with his 2nd wife, Violet Kennedy and finally, 3 illegitimate children. Prior to his death, Amos Bellis executed a will in the Philippines in which his distributable estate should be divided in trust in the following order and manner: a. $240,000 to his 1st wife Mary Mallen; b. P120,000 to his 3 illegitimate children at P40,000 each; c. The remainder shall go to his surviving children by his 1st and 2nd wives, in equal shares. Subsequently, Amos Bellis died a resident of San Antonio, Texas, USA. His will was admitted to probate in the Philippines. The People’s Bank and Trust Company, an executor of the will, paid the entire bequest therein. Preparatory to closing its administration, the executor submitted and filed its “Executor’s Final Account, Report of Administration and Project of Partition” where it reported, inter alia, the satisfaction of the legacy of Mary Mallen by the shares of stock amounting to $240,000 delivered to her, and the legacies of the 3 illegitimate children in the amount of P40,000 each or a total of P120,000. In the project partition, the executor divided the residuary estate into 7 equal portions for the benefit of the testator’s 7 legitimate children by his 1st and 2nd marriages. Among the 3 illegitimate children, Mari Cristina and Miriam Palma Bellis filed their respective opposition to the project partition on the ground that they were deprived of their legitimates as illegitimate children. The lower court denied their respective motions for reconsideration. ISSUE: Whether Texan Law of Philippine Law must apply. RULING: It is not disputed that the decedent was both a national of Texas and a domicile thereof at the time of his death. So that even assuming Texan has a conflict of law rule providing that the same would not result in a reference back (renvoi) to Philippine Law, but would still refer to Texas Law. Nonetheless, if Texas has conflict rule adopting the situs theory (lex rei sitae) calling for the application of the law of the place where the properties are situated, renvoi would arise, since the properties here involved are found in the Philippines. In the absence, however of proofs as to the conflict of law rule of Texas, it should not be presumed different from our appellants, position is therefore not rested on the doctrine of renvoi. The parties admit that the decedent, Amos Bellis, was a citizen of the State of Texas, USA and that under the Laws of Texas, there are no forced heirs or legitimates. Accordingly, since the intrinsic validity of the provision of the will and the amount of successional rights has to be determined under Texas Law, the Philippine Law on legitimates can not be applied to the testate of Amos Bellis.