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Eduardo Agtarap v. Sebastian Agtarap, et.al. (Nachura, J.

, June 8, 2011) On September 15, 1994, Eduardo (son from 2 marriage) filed with RTC Pasay a verified petition for the judicial settlement of the estate of his deceased father Joaquin. It alleged that he died intestate without debts or obligations. During his lifetime, Joaquin had 2 marriages, first with Lucia, with whom he had three children and second with Caridad with who he also had 3 children. He left 2 parcels of land in st Pasay. Joseph (grandson from 1 marriage) had been leasing and improving the said parcels of land. Eduardo prayed that an order be issued to 1. Confirm and declare the compulsory heris of Joaquin, 2. Apportion and allocate unto these heirs their aliquot shares in the estate, 3. Entitle the distributees the right to receive and enter into possession of those parts individually awarded to them. Grandchildren of Joaquin from first marriage filed their opposition alleging that the 2 subject lots belonged to the conjugal partnership of Joaquin and Lucia, and that, upon Lucias death, they became pro indiviso owners of the subject properties. They also opposed the appointment of Eduardo as administrator on the following grounds: 1. Hes not physically and mentally fit to do so, 2. His interest in the lots is minimal, 3. He does not possess the desire to earn. They prayed that Joseph be appointed as special or regular administrator. RTC issued a resolution appointing Eduardo as regular administrator. It also allocated the greater part of the estate in favor of the children of the second marriage considering that the bulk of the estate property were acquired during the existence of the second marriage.
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Ratio: GENERAL RULE: the jurisdiction of the trial court, either as a probate or an intestate court, relates only to matters having to do with the probate of the will and/or settlement of the estate of deceased persons, but does not extend to the determination of questions of ownership that arise during the proceedings. The patent rationale for this rule is that such court merely exercises special and limited jurisdiction. As held in several cases, a probate court or one in charge of estate proceedings, whether testate or intestate, cannot adjudicate or determine title to properties claimed to be a part of the estate and which are claimed to belong to outside parties, not by virtue of any right of inheritance from the deceased but by title adverse to that of the deceased and his estate. All that the said court could do as regards said properties is to determine whether or not they should be included in the inventory of properties to be administered by the administrator. If there is no dispute, there poses no problem, but if there is, then the parties, the administrator, and the opposing parties have to resort to an ordinary action before a court exercising general jurisdiction for a final determination of the conflicting claims of title. EXCEPTIONS: o the probate court may provisionally pass upon in an intestate or a testate proceeding the question of inclusion in, or exclusion from, the inventory of a piece of property without prejudice to the final determination of ownership in a separate action. o if the interested parties are all heirs to the estate, or the question is one of collation or advancement, or the parties consent to the assumption of jurisdiction by the probate court and the rights of third parties are not impaired, then the probate court is competent to resolve issues on ownership.

Issue: Did the RTC, as an intestate court, acquire jurisdiction over the issue on ownership of the properties? YES

Verily, its jurisdiction extends to matters incidental or collateral to the settlement and distribution of the estate, such as the determination of the status of each heir and whether the property in the inventory is conjugal or exclusive property of the deceased spouse. The general rule does not apply to the instant case considering that the parties are all heirs of Joaquin and that no rights of third parties will be impaired by the resolution of the ownership issue. More importantly, the determination of whether the subject properties are conjugal is but collateral to the probate courts jurisdiction to settle the estate of Joaquin. It should be remembered that when Eduardo filed his verified petition for judicial settlement of Joaquins estate, he alleged that the subject properties were owned by Joaquin and Caridad since the TCTs state that the lots were registered in the name of Joaquin Agtarap, married to Caridad Garcia. He also admitted in his petition that Joaquin, prior to contracting marriage with Caridad, contracted a first marriage with Lucia. Oppositors to the petition, grandchildren from first marriage, however, were able to present proof before the RTC that TCT were derived from a mother title in the name of their grandfather married to their grandmother. Section 2, Rule 73 of the Rules of Court provides that when the marriage is dissolved by the death of the husband or the wife, the community property shall be inventoried, administered, and liquidated, and the debts thereof paid; in the testate or intestate proceedings of the deceased spouse, and if both spouses have died, the conjugal partnership shall be liquidated in the testate or intestate proceedings of either. Thus, the RTC had jurisdiction to determine whether the properties are conjugal as it had to liquidate the conjugal partnership to determine the estate of the decedent. In fact, should Joseph and Teresa institute a settlement proceeding for the intestate estate of Lucia, the same should be

consolidated with the settlement proceedings of Joaquin, being Lucias spouse.


Testate Estate of Catalina Dela Cruz, and Andres Pascual v. Pedro Dela Cruz, et al. (Reyes, JBL, J., May 30, 1969) Facts: Catalina Dela Cruz died, single and without any surviving descendant. She left a will naming Andres Pascual as her sole heir and executor. Pascual filed for probateCatalina Dela Cruz died, single and without any surviving descendant. She left a will naming Andres Pascual as her sole heir and executor. Pascual filed for probate. Pedro dela Cruz and 26 other nephews and nieces of the decedent contested the validity of the will on the ground that the formalities required by law were not complied with: 1. The testatrix was mentally incapable of disposing of her properties, 2. The will was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of Pascual, 3. The signature of Catalina was obtained through fraud. Pascual presented the notary and the subscribing witnesses. Respondents said that there were consistencies in their testimony. RTC ruled in favor of Pascual.

Issue: Is the will valid? Yes Ratio: In this jurisdiction, it is the observed rule that, where a will is contested, the subscribing with are generally regarded as the best qualified to testify on its due execution. However, it is similarly recognized that for the testimony of such witnesses to be entitled to full credit, it must be reasonable and unbiased, and not overcome by competent evidence, direct or circumstantial. In this case, the SC agreed with the trial judge that the contradictions and inconsistencies in the testimonies of the witnesses and the notary (such as the weather condition at the time the will was executed; the sequence of the signing by the

witnesses; and the length of time it took to complete the act), relate to unimportant details of the impressions of the witnesses about certain details which could have been affected by the lapse of time and the treachery of human memory, and which inconsistencies, by themselves, would not alter the probative value of their testimonies on the due execution of the will. In Estate of Javellana vs. Javellana, the court held that for the purpose of determining the due execution of a will, it is not necessary that the instrumental witnesses should give an accurate and detailed account of the proceeding, such as recalling the order of the signing of the document by the said witnesses. It is sufficient that they have seen or at least were so situated at the moment that they could have seen each other sign, had they wanted to do so. It is a settled rule in this jurisdiction that the mere fact that a Will was made in favor of a stranger is not in itself proof that the same was obtained through fraud and undue pressure or influence, for we have numerous instances where strangers are preferred to blood relatives in the institution of heirs. But in the case at bar, Andres Pascual, although not related by blood to the deceased Catalina de la Cruz, was definitely not a stranger to the latter for she considered him as her own son. As a matter of fact it was not only Catalina de la Cruz who loved and cared for Andres Pascual but also her sisters held him with affection so much so that Catalina's sister, Florentina Cruz, made him also her sole heir to her property in her Will without any objection from Catalina and Valentina Cruz. The basic principles on undue pressure and influence as laid down by the jurisprudence of this Court: that to be sufficient to avoid a will, the influence exerted must be of a kind that so overpowers and subjugates the mind of the testator as to destroy his free agency and make him express the will of another rather than his own, that the contention that a will was obtained by undue influence or improper pressure cannot be sustained on mere conjecture or suspicion, as it is enough that there was opportunity to exercise undue influence, or a possibility that it may have been exercised, that the exercise of improper pressure and undue influence must be supported by substantial evidence that it was actually exercised, that the burden is on the person challenging the will to show that such influence was exerted at the time of its execution, that mere

general or reasonable influence is not sufficient to invalidate a will nor is moderate and reasonable solicitation and entreaty addressed to the testator or omission of relatives, not forced heirs, evidence of undue influence.