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G.R. No.

L-40804 January 31, 1978

ROSARIO FELICIANO VDA. DE RAMOS, MIGUEL DANILA, RAYMUNDO A. DANILA, CONSOLACION SANTOS, MIGUEL G. DANILA, AMOR DANILA, MOISES MARTINEZ, MIGUELA GAVINO, MELITON NISTA, PRIMITIVA NISTA, HEIRS OF DANIEL NISTA, MOISES NISTA, DOMINGO NISTA and ADELAIDA NISTA, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, MARCELINA (MARTINA) GUERRA and THE HEIRS OF BUENAVENTURA GUERRA, respondents.

DOCTRINE: The law requires at least three attesting witnesses to a notarial will. The witnesses shall be called upon, during probate, to recount the incidents which occurred thereat. To a large extent, admission to or denial of probate depends on the testimony of these instrumental witnesses . However, if contrary to expectation, these witnesses, or some of them, should testify against the formal validity of the will, the proponent of the will may use other evidence, direct or circumstantial, to establish compliance with the formalities prescribed by law. A will is not necessarily void because the witnesses declared against its validity.

FACTS: • • • Eugenia Danila allegedly executed a will and testament dated March 9, 1963 and a codicil dated April 18, 1963. Adelaida Nista, one of the instituted heirs filed a petition for the probate of the two documents. Buenaventura and Marcelina (Martina) both surnamed Guerra filed an opposition to the petition alleging among others that they are the legally adopted son and daughter of the late spouses Florentino Guerra and Eugenia Danila. RESPONDENTS’S CONTENTION: The adopted children alleged that the will and codicil were procured through fraud and undue influence. They further contend that the formalities required by law for the execution of a will and codicil have not been complied with as the same were not properly attested to or executed and not expressing the free will and deed of the testatrix. They also claim that Eugenia had already executed on November 5, 1951 her last will and testament which was duly probated and not revoked or annulled during her lifetime. PETITIONERS’ CONTENTION: The will and codicil are valid since it complied with the formalities required by law for the execution of a will and codicil.

ISSUE: Whether or not the last will and codicil were executed in accordance with the formalities of the law, considering two of the attesting witnesses testified against their due execution while other nonsubscribing witnesses testified to the contrary – YES RULING:

their testimony must be reasonable. Similarly. it does not necessarily disallow its probate. the will may. While the opposition alleged fraud and undue influence. if any or all of the subscribing witnesses testify against the due execution of the will. no evidence was presented to prove their occurrence. In the absence of any showing of self-interest that might possibly have warped his judgment and twisted his declaration. or are otherwise of doubtful credibility. if otherwise. were properly signed by the attesting witnesses. among others. Although the subscribing witnesses to a contested will are the best witnesses in connection with its due execution. the intervention of a Notary Public. With regard to the testimonies of the witnesses against the due execution of a will. the decision of the respondent Court of Appeals is hereby reversed insofar as it disallowed the probate of the will and codicil. As a rule. nevertheless. or do not remember having attested to it. in his professional capacity. it may be overcome by any competent evidence. respondent court failed to consider the presumption of regularity in the execution of the questioned documents.The last will and codicil were executed in accordance with the formalities required by law. There is no question that each and every page of the will and codicil carry the authentic signatures of Eugenia Danila and the three (3) attesting witnesses. There were no incidents brought to the attention of the trial court to arouse suspicion of anomaly. and unbiased. There is no showing that the lawyers had been remiss in their sworn duty. WHEREFORE. . direct or circumstantial. with costs against respondent. Consequently. Neither is it disputed that these witnesses took turns in signing the will and codicil in the presence of each other and the testatrix. to deserve full credit. to guard against any illegal or immoral arrangements in the execution of a will. Both instruments were duly acknowledged before a Notary Public who was all the time present during the execution. It has been regarded that the function of the Notary Public is. in the execution of a will deserves grave consideration. the attestation claim far from being deficient. be allowed if the court is satisfied from the testimony of other witnesses and from all the evidence presented that the will was executed and attested in the manner required by the law.