Enriquez vs Abadia

FACTS: In 1923, Father Abadia, executed a document purporting to be his Last Will and Testament. He died in 1943 and left properties worth P8,000. In 1946, Andres Enriquez, one of the legatees filed a petition for the probate of the will in the CFI. Some of Father Abadia’s cousins and nephews who would inherit the estate of the deceased, in the absence of any testament executed by the deceased opposed the petition for probation. One of the attesting witnesses, the other two being dead, testified that in his presence together with his co-witness, Father Abadia wrote out in longhand the will in Spanish which the testator spoke and understood; 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 finally signed his name at the end of his writing at the last page, all this, in the presence of the three attesting witnesses after telling that it was his last will and that 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 oppositors did not submit any evidence. The trial court declared the will to be a holographic will; that it was in the handwriting of the testator and that 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 admitted to probate the Last Will and Testament of Father Abadia. The oppositors appealed the CFI’s Decision. ISSUE: Should the holographic will be probated despite that when it was executed the Civil Code effective at that time does not provide for holographic wills? RULING: The Supreme Court held that despite the effectivity of the new Civil Code allowing the execution of holographic wills, the contested holographic will still cannot be allowed and admitted to probate. As stated in Art. 795 of the New Civil Code, the extrinsic validity of a will should be judged not by the law existing at the time of the testator’s death nor the law at the time of its probate, but by the law existing at the time of the execution of the instrument. For the very simple reason that although the will becomes operative only after the testator’s death, still his wishes are given expression at the time of execution. The general rule is that the Legislature can not validate void wills.

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