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AdministrationoftheestateofAgripinoNeriyChavez.ELEUTERIONERI,ETAL.

, petitioners,
vs.
IGNACIAAKUTINANDHERCHILDREN,respondents.
Ozamiz&Capistranoforpetitioners.
Gullas,Leuterio,Tanner&Laputforrespondents.
AgripinoNeriyChavez,whodiedonDecember12,1931,hadbyhisfirstmarriagesixchildrennamed
Eleuterio,Agripino,Agapito,Getulia,Rosarioand Celerina; and byhissecondmarriage withIgnacia
Akutin,fivechildrennamedGracia,Godofredo,Violeta,EstelaMaria,andEmma.Getulia,daughterinthe
first marriage,diedonOctober2,1923,that is,alittlelessthaneightyearsbeforethedeathofsaid
AgripinoNeriyChavez,andwassurvivedbysevenchildrennamedRemedios,Encarnacion,Carmen,
Trinidad,Luz,AlbertoandMinda.InAgripinoNeri'stestament,whichwasadmittedtoprobateonMarch
21,1932,hewilledthathischildrenbythefirstmarriageshallhavenolongeranyparticipationinhis
estate,astheyhadalreadyreceivedtheircorrespondingsharesduringhislifetime.Atthehearingforthe
declarationofheirs,thetrialcourtfound,contrarytowhatthetestatorhaddeclaredinhiswill,thatallhis
childrenbythefirstandsecondmarriagesintestateheirsofthedeceasedwithoutprejudicetoonehalfof
theimprovementsintroducedinthepropertiesduringtheexistenceofthelastconjugalpartnership,which
should belong to Ignacia Akutin. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision with the
modificationthatthewillwas"validwithrespecttothetwothirdspartwhichthetestatorcouldfreely
disposeof."ThisjudgmentoftheCourtofAppealsisnowsoughttobereviewedinthispetitionfor
certiorari.
Thedecisivequestionhereraisediswhether,upontheforegoingfacts,theomissionofthechildrenofthe
firstmarriageannulstheinstitutionofthechildrenofthefirstmarriageassoleheirsofthetestator,or
whetherthewillmaybeheldvalid,atleastwithrespecttoonethirdoftheestatewhichthetestatormay
disposeofaslegacyandtotheotheronethirdwhichhemaybequeathasbetterment,tosaidchildrenofthe
secondmarriage.
TheCourtofAppealsinvokedtheprovisionsofarticle851oftheCivilCode,whichreadinpartasfollows:
Disinheritance made without a statement of the cause, or for a cause the truth of which, if
contradicted,isnotproven,...shallannultheinstitutionoftheheirinsofarasitprejudicesthe
persondisinherited;butthelegacies,betterments,andothertestamentarydispositions,insofaras
theydonoencroachuponthelegitime,shallbevalid.
Theappellatecourtthusseemedtohaveresteditsjudgmentupontheimpressionthatthetestatorhad
intendedtodisinherit,thoughineffectively,thechildrenofthefirstmarriage.Thereisnothinginthewill
thatsupportsthisconclusion.True,thetestatorexpresslydeniedthemanyshareinhisestate;butthedenial
waspredicated,notuponthedesiretodisinherit,butuponthebelief,mistakenthoughitwas,thatthe
childrenbythefirstmarriagehadalreadyreceivedmorethantheircorrespondingsharesinhislifetimein
theformofadvancement.Suchbeliefconclusivelynegativesallinferenceastoanyintentiontodisinherit,
unlesshisstatementtothateffectisprovetobedeliberatelyfictitious,afactnotfoundbytheCourtof
Appeals.Thesituationcontemplatedintheaboveprovisionisoneinwhichthepurposetodisinheritis
clear,butuponacausenotstatedornotproved,asituationwhichdoesnotobtainintheinstantcase.
TheCourtofAppealsquotesManresathus:
Enelterrenodelosprincipios,lasolucionmasjustadelproblemaquehemoshechonotaral
comentarelarticulo,seriadistinguirelcasoenqueelherederoomitidoviviesealotorgarseel
testamento,siendoconocidasuexistenciaporeltestador,deaquelenque,onaciesedespues,ose

ignorasesuexistencia,aplicandoenelprimercasoladoctrinadelarticulo851,yenelsegundola
del814.(6Manresa,354355.)
Butitmustbeobservedthatthisopinionisfoundedonmereprinciples(enelterrenodelosprincipios)and
notontheexpressprovisionsofthelaw.Manresahimselfadmitsthataccordingtolaw,"noexistehoy
cuestionalgunaenestamateria:lapretericionproducesiemprelosmismosefectos,yaserefieraapersonas
vivas al hacer el testamento o nacidas despues. Este ultimo grupo solo puede hacer relacion a los
descendienteslegitimos,siemprequeademastenganderechoalegitima."(6Manresa,381.)
Appellants,ontheotherhand,maintainthatthecaseisoneofvoluntarypreteritionoffourofthechildren
bythefirstmarriage,andofinvoluntarypreteritionofthechildrenbythedeceasedGetulia,alsoofthefirst
marriage,andisthusgovernedbytheprovisionsofarticle814oftheCivilCode,whichreadinpartas
follows:
Thepreteritionofoneoralloftheforcedheirsinthedirectline,whetherlivingatthetimeofthe
executionofthewillorbornafterthedeathofthetestator,shallvoidtheinstitutionofheir;butthe
legaciesandbettermentsshallbevalid,insofarastheyarenotinofficious.
Preteritionconsistsintheomissioninthetestator'swill oftheforcedheirsoranyoneofthem,either
becausetheyarenotmentionedtherein,or,thoughmentioned,theyareneitherinstitutedasheirsnorare
expresslydisinherited.(Cf.6Manresa,346.)Intheinstantcase,whilethechildrenofthefirstmarriagewere
mentionedinthewill,theywerenotaccordedanyshareintheheriditaryproperty,withoutexpresslybeing
disinherited.Itis,therefore,aclearcaseofpreteritionascontendedbyappellants.Theomissionofthe
forcedheirsoranyoneofthem,whethervoluntaryorinvoluntary,isapreteritionifthepurposetodisinherit
isnotexpresslymadeorisnotatleastmanifest.
Exceptasto"legaciesandbetterments"which"shallbevalidinsofarastheyarenotinofficious"(art.814
oftheCivilCode),preteritionavoidstheinstitutionofheirsandgivesrisetointestatesuccession.(Art.814,
CivilCode;DecisionsoftheSupremeCourtofSpainofJune17,1908andFebruary27,1909.)Inthe
instantcase,nosuchlegaciesorbettermentshavebeenmadebythetestator."Mejoras"orbettermentsmust
beexpresslyprovided,accordingtoarticles825and828oftheCivilCode,andwherenoexpressprovision
thereforismadeinthewill,thelawwouldpresumethatthetestatorhadnointentiontothateffect.(Cf.6
Manresa,479.)Inthewillhereinquestion,noexpressbettermentismadeinfavorofthechildrenbythe
secondmarriage;neitheristhereanylegacyexpresslymadeintheirbehalfconsistingofthethirdavailable
forfreedisposal.Thewholeinheritanceisaccordedtheheirsbythesecondmarriageuponthemistaken
beliefthattheheirsbythefirstmarriagehavealreadyreceivedtheirshares.Wereitnotforthismistake,the
testator'sintention,asmaybeclearlyinferredfromhiswill,wouldhavebeentodividehispropertyequally
amongallhischildren.
JudgmentoftheCourtofAppealsisreversedandthatofthetrialcourtaffirmed,withoutprejudicetothe
widow'slegalusufruct,withcostsagainstrespondents.

DY YIENG SEANGIO, BARBARA D. SEANGIO and VIRGINIA D. SEANGIO, Petitioners,


vs.
HON.AMORA.REYES,inhercapacityasPresidingJudge,RegionalTrialCourt,NationalCapital
JudicialRegion,Branch21,Manila,ALFREDOD.SEANGIO,ALBERTOD.SEANGIO,ELISAD.
SEANGIOSANTOS,VICTORD.SEANGIO,ALFONSOD.SEANGIO,SHIRLEYD.SEANGIO
LIM,BETTYD.SEANGIOOBASandJAMESD.SEANGIO,Respondents.
Thisisapetitionforcertiorari1withapplicationfortheissuanceofawritofpreliminaryinjunctionand/or
temporaryrestrainingorderseekingthenullificationoftheorders,datedAugust10,1999andOctober14,
1999,oftheRegionalTrialCourtofManila,Branch21(theRTC),dismissingthepetitionforprobateon
thegroundofpreterition,intheconsolidatedcases,docketedasSP.Proc.No.9890870andSP.Proc.No.
9993396,andentitled,"IntheMatteroftheIntestateEstateofSegundoC.Seangiov.AlfredoD.Seangio,
etal."and"IntheMatteroftheProbateoftheWillofSegundoC.Seangiov.DyYiengSeangio,Barbara
D.SeangioandVirginiaSeangio."
Thefactsofthecasesareasfollows:
OnSeptember21,1988,privaterespondentsfiledapetitionforthesettlementoftheintestateestateofthe
lateSegundoSeangio,docketedasSp.Proc.No.9890870oftheRTC,andprayingfortheappointmentof
privaterespondentElisaD.SeangioSantosasspecialadministratorandguardianadlitemofpetitionerDy
YiengSeangio.
PetitionersDyYieng,BarbaraandVirginia,allsurnamedSeangio,opposedthepetition.Theycontended
that:1)DyYiengisstillveryhealthyandinfullcommandofherfaculties;2)thedeceasedSegundo
executedageneralpowerofattorneyinfavorofVirginiagivingherthepowertomanageandexercise
controlandsupervisionoverhisbusinessinthePhilippines;3)Virginiaisthemostcompetentandqualified
toserveastheadministratoroftheestateofSegundobecausesheisacertifiedpublicaccountant;and,4)
Segundoleftaholographicwill,datedSeptember20,1995,disinheritingoneoftheprivaterespondents,
AlfredoSeangio,forcause.Inviewofthepurportedholographicwill,petitionersaverredthatintheevent
thedecedentisfoundtohaveleftawill,theintestateproceedingsaretobeautomaticallysuspendedand
replacedbytheproceedingsfortheprobateofthewill.
OnApril7,1999,apetitionfortheprobateoftheholographicwillofSegundo,docketedasSP.Proc.No.
9993396,wasfiledbypetitionersbeforetheRTC.Theylikewisereiteratedthattheprobateproceedings
shouldtakeprecedenceoverSP.Proc.No.9890870becausetestateproceedingstakeprecedenceand
enjoypriorityoverintestateproceedings.2
ThedocumentthatpetitionersrefertoasSegundosholographicwillisquoted,asfollows:
Kasulatansapagaalisngmana
Tantuninngsinuman
AkosiSegundoSeangioFilipinomayasawananinirahansa465AFloresSt.,Ermita,Manilaatnagtatalay
ngmaiwanagnapagiisipatdisposisyonaytahasanathayaganginaalisankonglahatatanumangmana
angpaganaykonganaknasiAlfredoSeangiodahilsiyaaynaginglapastangansaakinatisanbesessiyang
sasalitangmasamaharapankoatmgakapatidniyanasiVirginiaSeangiolabiskongkinasamangloobko

atsasaberinniAlfredosaakinnaakonasaibabawgayongunitdaratinangarawnaakonasailalimsiyaat
siyanasaibabaw.
LabiskongikinasamangloobkoanggamitniAlfredongakinpagalanparamakapagutangnakuartasiya
atkanyaasawanasiMernadelosReyessaChinaBangkingCorporationnamillonpesosathinding
babayadathindingbabayaditoaynagdulotsaakingngmalakingkahihiyasamgamayariatstockholders
ngChinaBanking.
AtikinagalitkoparinangpagkuhaniAlfredoatngkanyangasawanamgacustome[r]ngTravelCenterof
thePhilippinesnapinagasiwaankoatnganakkosiVirginia.
DitoakonagalitdinkayagayonayokonabilaninsiAlfredonganakkoathayanankonginaalisannglahat
atanomanmananasiAlfredoatsiAlfredoSeangioayhindikosiyaanakathindisiyamakohamana.
Nila[g]daankongayonika20ngSetyembre1995salongsodngManilasaharapngtatlongsaksi.3
(signed)
SegundoSeangio
Nilagdaansaharapnamin
(signed)
DyYiengSeangio(signed)
UnangSaksiikalawangsaksi
(signed)
ikatlongsaksi
OnMay29,1999,uponpetitionersmotion,SP.Proc.No.9890870andSP.Proc.No.9993396were
consolidated.4
OnJuly1,1999,privaterespondentsmovedforthedismissaloftheprobateproceedings 5primarilyonthe
ground that the document purporting to be the holographic will of Segundo does not contain any
dispositionoftheestateofthedeceasedandthusdoesnotmeetthedefinitionofawillunderArticle783of
theCivilCode.Accordingtoprivaterespondents,thewillonlyshowsanallegedactofdisinheritanceby
thedecedentofhiseldestson,Alfredo,andnothingelse;thatallothercompulsoryheirswerenotnamed
norinstitutedasheir,deviseeorlegatee,hence,thereispreteritionwhichwouldresulttointestacy.Such
beingthecase,privaterespondentsmaintainedthatwhileprocedurallythecourtiscalledupontoruleonly
ontheextrinsicvalidityofthewill,itisnotbarredfromdelvingintotheintrinsicvalidityofthesame,and
orderingthedismissalofthepetitionforprobatewhenonthefaceofthewillitisclearthatitcontainsno
testamentarydispositionofthepropertyofthedecedent.
Petitionersfiledtheiroppositiontothemotiontodismisscontendingthat:1)generally,theauthorityofthe
probatecourtislimitedonlytoadeterminationoftheextrinsicvalidityofthewill;2)privaterespondents
questiontheintrinsicandnottheextrinsicvalidityofthewill;3)disinheritanceconstitutesadispositionof
theestateofadecedent;and,4)theruleonpreteritiondoesnotapplybecauseSegundoswilldoesnot
constituteauniversalheirorheirstotheexclusionofoneormorecompulsoryheirs.6

OnAugust10,1999,theRTCissueditsassailedorder,dismissingthepetitionforprobateproceedings:A
perusalofthedocumenttermedas"will"byoppositors/petitionersDyYiengSeangio,etal.,clearlyshows
thatthereispreterition,astheonlyheirsmentionedthereatareAlfredoandVirginia.[T]heotherheirs
beingomitted,Article854oftheNewCivilCodethusapplies.However,insofarasthewidowDyYieng
Seangioisconcerned,Article854doesnotapply,shenotbeingacompulsoryheirinthedirectline.
Assuch,thisCourtisboundtodismissthispetition,fortodootherwisewouldamounttoanabuseof
discretion.TheSupreme Court inthe caseofAcainv.Intermediate Appellate Court [155SCRA100
(1987)]hasmadeitspositionclear: "forrespondentstohavetoleratedtheprobateofthewill and
allowedthecasetoprogresswhen,onitsface,thewillappearstobeintrinsicallyvoidwouldhavebeen
anexerciseinfutility.Itwouldhavemeantawasteoftime,effort,expense,plusaddedfutility.Thetrial
court could have denied its probate outright or could have passed upon the intrinsic validity of the
testamentaryprovisionsbeforetheextrinsicvalidityofthewillwasresolved(underscoringsupplied).
WHEREFORE,premisesconsidered,theMotiontoSuspendProceedingsisherebyDENIEDforlackof
merit.SpecialProceedingsNo.9993396isherebyDISMISSEDwithoutpronouncementastocosts.
SOORDERED.7
PetitionersmotionforreconsiderationwasdeniedbytheRTCinitsorderdatedOctober14,1999.
Petitionerscontendthat:
THE RESPONDENT JUDGE ACTED IN EXCESS OF HER JURISDICTION OR WITH GRAVE
ABUSEOFDISCRETIONAMOUNTINGTOLACKOREXCESSOFJURISDICTIONANDDECIDED
AQUESTIONOFLAWNOTINACCORDWITHLAWANDJURISPRUDENCEINISSUINGTHE
QUESTIONEDORDERS,DATED10AUGUST1999AND14OCTOBER1999(ATTACHMENTS"A"
AND"B"HEREOF)CONSIDERINGTHAT:
I
THERESPONDENTJUDGE,WITHOUTEVENCOMPLYINGWITHSECTIONS3AND4OFRULE
76OFTHERULESOFCOURTONTHEPROPERPROCEDUREFORSETTINGTHECASEFOR
INITIALHEARINGFORTHEESTABLISHMENTOFTHEJURISDICTIONALFACTS,DISMISSED
THE TESTATE CASE ON THE ALLEGED GROUND THAT THE TESTATORS WILL IS VOID
ALLEGEDLY BECAUSE OF THE EXISTENCE OF PRETERITION, WHICH GOES INTO THE
INTRINSICVALIDITYOFTHEWILL,DESPITETHEFACTTHATITISASETTLEDRULETHAT
THEAUTHORITYOFPROBATECOURTSISLIMITEDONLYTOADETERMINATIONOFTHE
EXTRINSICVALIDITYOFTHEWILL,I.E.,THEDUEEXECUTIONTHEREOF,THETESTATORS
TESTAMENTARY CAPACITY AND THE COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUISITES OR
SOLEMNITIESPRESCRIBEDBYLAW;
II
EVEN ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT THE RESPONDENT JUDGE HAS THE AUTHORITY TO
RULEUPONTHEINTRINSICVALIDITYOFTHEWILLOFTHETESTATOR,ITISINDUBITABLE
FROMTHEFACEOFTHETESTATORSWILLTHATNOPRETERITONEXISTSANDTHATTHE
WILLISBOTHINTRINSICALLYANDEXTRINSICALLYVALID;AND,
III

RESPONDENT JUDGE WAS DUTY BOUND TO SUSPEND THE PROCEEDINGS IN THE


INTESTATE CASE CONSIDERING THAT IT IS A SETTLED RULE THAT TESTATE
PROCEEDINGSTAKEPRECEDENCEOVERINTESTATEPROCEEDINGS.
Petitionersargue,asfollows:
First,respondentjudgedidnotcomplywithSections3and4ofRule76oftheRulesofCourtwhich
respectivelymandatethecourtto:a)fixthetimeandplaceforprovingthewillwhenallconcernedmay
appeartocontesttheallowancethereof,andcausenoticeofsuchtimeandplacetobepublishedthree
weekssuccessivelyprevioustotheappointedtimeinanewspaperofgeneralcirculation;and,b)causethe
mailingofsaidnoticetotheheirs,legateesanddeviseesofthetestatorSegundo;
Second,theholographicwilldoesnotcontainanyinstitutionofanheir,butrather,asitstitleclearlystates,
KasulatanngPagAalisngMana,simplycontainsadisinheritanceofacompulsoryheir.Thus,thereisno
preteritioninthedecedentswillandtheholographicwillonitsfaceisnotintrinsicallyvoid;
Third,thetestatorintendedallhiscompulsoryheirs,petitionersandprivaterespondentsalike,withthesole
exceptionofAlfredo,toinherithisestate.NoneofthecompulsoryheirsinthedirectlineofSegundowere
preteritedintheholographicwillsincetherewasnoinstitutionofanheir;
Fourth,inasmuchasitclearlyappearsfromthefaceoftheholographicwillthatitisbothintrinsicallyand
extrinsicallyvalid,respondentjudgewasmandatedtoproceedwiththehearingofthetestatecase;and,
Lastly,thecontinuationoftheproceedingsintheintestatecasewillworkinjusticetopetitioners,andwill
rendernugatorythedisinheritanceofAlfredo.
ThepurportedholographicwillofSegundothatwaspresentedbypetitionerswasdated,signedandwritten
byhiminhisownhandwriting.Exceptonthegroundofpreterition,privaterespondentsdidnotraiseany
issueasregardstheauthenticityofthedocument.
Thedocument,entitled KasulatanngPagAalisngMana,unmistakablyshowedSegundosintentionof
excludinghiseldestson,Alfredo,asanheirtohisestateforthereasonsthathecitedtherein.Ineffect,
AlfredowasdisinheritedbySegundo.
Fordisinheritancetobevalid,Article916oftheCivilCoderequiresthatthesamemustbeeffectedthrough
awillwhereinthelegalcausethereforshallbespecified.Withregardtothereasonsforthedisinheritance
thatwerestatedbySegundoinhisdocument,theCourtbelievesthattheincidents,takenasawhole,canbe
consideredaformofmaltreatmentofSegundobyhisson,Alfredo,andthatthematterpresentsasufficient
causeforthedisinheritanceofachildordescendantunderArticle919oftheCivilCode:
Article919.Thefollowingshallbesufficientcausesforthedisinheritanceofchildrenanddescendants,
legitimateaswellasillegitimate:
(1)Whenachildordescendanthasbeenfoundguiltyofanattemptagainstthelifeofthetestator,
hisorherspouse,descendants,orascendants;
(2)Whenachildordescendanthasaccusedthetestatorofacrimeforwhichthelawprescribes
imprisonmentforsixyearsormore,iftheaccusationhasbeenfoundgroundless;
(3)Whenachildordescendanthasbeenconvictedofadulteryorconcubinagewiththespouseof
thetestator;

(4)Whenachildordescendantbyfraud,violence,intimidation,orundueinfluencecausesthe
testatortomakeawillortochangeonealreadymade;
(5)Arefusalwithoutjustifiablecausetosupporttheparentsorascendantwhodisinheritsuch
childordescendant;
(6)Maltreatmentofthetestatorbywordordeed,bythechildordescendant;8
(7)Whenachildordescendantleadsadishonorableordisgracefullife;
(8)Convictionofacrimewhichcarrieswithitthepenaltyofcivilinterdiction.
Now,thecriticalissuetobedeterminediswhetherthedocumentexecutedbySegundocanbeconsidered
asaholographicwill.
Aholographicwill,asprovidedunderArticle810oftheCivilCode,mustbeentirelywritten,dated,and
signedbythehandofthetestatorhimself.Itissubjecttonootherform,andmaybemadeinoroutofthe
Philippines,andneednotbewitnessed.
Segundosdocument,althoughitmayinitiallycomeacrossasameredisinheritanceinstrument,conforms
totheformalitiesofaholographicwillprescribedbylaw.Itiswritten,datedandsignedbythehandof
Segundohimself.Anintent todispose mortiscausa[9] canbeclearlydeducedfrom thetermsofthe
instrument,andwhileitdoesnotmakeanaffirmativedispositionofthelattersproperty,thedisinheritance
ofAlfredo,nonetheless,isanactofdispositioninitself.Inotherwords,thedisinheritanceresultsinthe
dispositionofthepropertyofthetestatorSegundoinfavorofthosewhowouldsucceedintheabsenceof
Alfredo.10
Moreover,itisafundamentalprinciplethattheintentorthewillofthetestator,expressedintheformand
withinthelimitsprescribedbylaw,mustberecognizedasthesupremelawinsuccession.Allrulesof
constructionaredesignedtoascertainandgiveeffecttothatintention.Itisonlywhentheintentionofthe
testatoriscontrarytolaw,morals,orpublicpolicythatitcannotbegiveneffect.11
Holographicwills,therefore,beingusuallypreparedbyonewhoisnotlearnedinthelaw,asillustratedin
thepresentcase,shouldbeconstruedmoreliberallythantheonesdrawnbyanexpert,takingintoaccount
thecircumstancessurroundingtheexecutionoftheinstrumentandtheintentionofthetestator. 12 Inthis
regard,theCourtisconvincedthatthedocument,evenifcaptionedasKasulatanngPagAalisngMana,
wasintendedbySegundotobehislasttestamentaryactandwasexecutedbyhiminaccordancewithlawin
theformofaholographicwill.Unlessthewillisprobated,13thedisinheritancecannotbegiveneffect.14
Withregardtotheissueonpreterition, 15theCourtbelievesthatthecompulsoryheirsinthedirectlinewere
notpreteritedinthewill.Itwas,intheCourtsopinion,Segundoslastexpressiontobequeathhisestateto
allhiscompulsoryheirs,withthesoleexceptionofAlfredo.Also,Segundodidnotinstituteanheir 16tothe
exclusionofhisothercompulsoryheirs.Themerementionofthenameofoneofthepetitioners,Virginia,
inthedocumentdidnotoperatetoinstituteherastheuniversalheir.Hernamewasincludedplainlyasa
witnesstothealtercationbetweenSegundoandhisson,Alfredo.1wphi1
ConsideringthatthequestioneddocumentisSegundosholographicwill,andthatthelawfavorstestacy
overintestacy,theprobateofthewillcannotbedispensedwith.Article838oftheCivilCodeprovidesthat
nowillshallpasseitherrealorpersonalpropertyunlessitisprovedandallowedinaccordancewiththe
RulesofCourt.Thus,unlessthewillisprobated,therightofapersontodisposeofhispropertymaybe
renderednugatory.17

Inviewoftheforegoing,thetrialcourt,therefore,shouldhaveallowedtheholographicwilltobeprobated.
Itissettledthattestateproceedingsforthesettlementoftheestateofthedecedenttakeprecedenceover
intestateproceedingsforthesamepurpose.18
WHEREFORE,thepetitionisGRANTED.TheOrdersoftheRegionalTrialCourtofManila,Branch21,
datedAugust10,1999andOctober14,1999,aresetaside.Respondentjudgeisdirectedtoreinstateand
hearSPProc.No.9993396fortheallowanceoftheholographicwillofSegundoSeangio.Theintestate
case or SP. Proc. No. 9890870 is hereby suspended until the termination of the aforesaid testate
proceedings.

LUCILLEFISCHER,APPELLANT
v.
MRS.MARTINJOHNSONETAL.,APPELLEES
WILLIAMDIXON,SpecialCommissioner.
ThisisanappealfromajudgmentoftheJeffersonCircuitCourtrefusingtoorderprobateofapurported
will.
DanielR.andNelliePetersonhadbeenmarriedformanyyearsandaccumulatedanestateworthmorethan
$43,000.Theyhadnochildrenandeachexecutedawillleavingtheirpropertytothesurvivor.Afteralong
illness,NelliediedonJuly14,1966,andDanieldiedFebruary2,1967.Whilevisitinghiswifeatthe
hospital,Danielmettheappellant,LucilleFischer,whoattendedhiswifeduringherillness,andhebecame
verymuchattachedtoappellant.
OnOctober10,1966,Mr.Petersonwroteinhisownhandwritingtoalawyerwhohadpreparedhisandhis
wife'swillandhaddoneotherlegalworkforthefamily.inwordsandfiguresasfollows:
"Mr.HenryBurt
AttorneyatLaw
KentuckyHomeLifeBuilding
Louisville,Kentucky
DearHenry:
Ihavethoughtthisoververycarefullythepastfewweeks.Myrelativesonmywife'ssidehavenevercared
verymuchformeotherthanmymotherinlaw.Shewouldtakefrommeandgivetothem.Ithinkthe
attitudeisthatIhavesomanythingsandtheyhavesolittle.Aftermywife'sdeath,theyhavebecomevery
grasping,therefore,Ithinktheydeserveverylittle.Put theseexplanationsinmyWillifyouthinkit
advisable.
1.TomysisterRuth,$1,000.
2.ToMayMurphyNurseatNortonInfirmary,$1,000.
3.Tomynamesake,DanielBoston,$1,000tobeinvestedinU.S.Gov.Bondsuntilheis18sohisparents
won'tblowit.

4.The balanceafter funeral expensetobegiven toLucille Fischer,an aidat Norton Infirmary.Any


furniture,paintingorotherpossessionstobedisposedofasshewishesotherthantheitemssetoutbelow.
Sheistobeexecutrixwithoutbondorsurety.
5.GrandfatherTablefromtheFreemanfamilytoClarenceFreeman.
6.GrandfatherTable,BlanketChestfromthePetersonfamilytoNormanA.Johnson.
Someofmyrelativeswillprobablythinkthisalittlestrange,butIcaredformymotherinlawfor27years
withoutanyfinancialassistancefromherson.Ihaveprovidedagraveandstoneforherburial.Hecan
surelypaytherest.ThisdivisionhaspartiallybeencausedinthelastfewdayswhenMrs.Freemanbegan
topackherthingsformoving.ThingsthatNellieandIboughtyearsagoandsheused,shetooktoher
granddaughtersthinkingtheywereherown.ItoldNellIwouldneversquabblewiththemoveranything.I
haven't.Istayawayfromhomesotheycouldtakewhatevertheywant.Intheeventthisdoesn'treachyou
beforemydeath,trytomakethisaslegalandbindingaspossible.
Sincerely,
DanielR.Peterson"
ThisletterwasofferedandfinallydeniedprobatebytheJeffersonCircuitCourtwhichresultedinthis
appealbyMrs.Fischer.
Mr.Petersonandhiswifehadpreviouslyexecutedaformalwilldrawnbytheirattorneyanditappearsthat
hehadconsiderableknowledgeoftherequirementsofdraftingandexecutingawill,whichisverifiedby
thelettertohisattorney.
OnthesamedaythatMr.Petersonwrotetheletterinquestion,hismotherinlawandherson,Colonel
ClarenceL.Freeman,wereathishomeselectingsomefurnitureandbelongingstotakefromMr.Peterson's
home.ThisappearedtomakeMr.Petersonveryangry,accordingtoColonelFreeman,andthismayhave
accountedfortheletterbeingwrittenbyMr.Petersononthesamedatetohislawyerconcerningthe
dispositionofhisproperty.
Onthe12thor13th,threeorfourdayslater,Mr.PetersonvisitedwithColonelFreemanandwasvery
pleasantandstatedhewasgoingtohavetomakeawillsincehiswifehaddied.
AccordingtoWilliamWeaver,averyclosefriend,Mr.PetersonhadexpressedaninterestinleavingMrs.
Fischerapartofhisestatebut,also,accordingtoMr.Weaver,hehadatnotimeevertoldhimthatheleft
heranypartofhisestatebywill.
TheletterinquestionshowsthatitwasnotregardedbyMr.Petersonasawillbutwassimplyadirectionto
hisattorney,Mr.Burt,towriteawill.Itsaid,"Puttheseexplanationsinmywillifyouthinkadvisable,"
andthenhesetoutsixitemsandtowhomhewantedthembequeathed.Thenextsentenceintheletter
stated,"Intheevent thisdoesn't reachyoubeforemydeath,trytomakethisaslegalandbindingas
possible."
ThisletterwaswrittenthreemonthsandtwentydaysbeforeMr.Peterson'sdeath.Awillwasprepared
accordingtoitsinstructionsandgivenMr.Petersonforexecutionandhevisitedtheofficeofhislawyer
whoprepareditonfourorfivedifferentoccasionsandmadenoefforttoexecuteitorlegalizeit.
InthecaseofNelsonv.Nelson,235Ky.189,30S.W.2d893(1930),itisstated:

"We take it there will be no disputing the fact that the determination of whether an instrument is
testamentaryincharacterdependswhollyupontheintentionofthemaker,andthat,intheabsenceofa
testamentaryintent,therecanneverbeawill."
Thiscase,insomerespects,issimilartoWalkerv.Hibbard,185Ky.795,215S.W.800,11A.L.R.832
(1919),whereawomanwashavinganoperationanddirectedheraunttoseethatherboyfriendreceived
herpropertyifshedidnotgetwell.Butshedidgetwellandthiscourtheldthathergettingwelldestroyed
thewill.
InthiscaseMr.Petersonlivedmorethanthreemonthsafterwritingtheletterinquestiontohislawyer.He
hadawillpreparedanddeliveredtohim.Itappearsthathewasamanofaboveaverageintelligenceand
havinghadexperienceinmakingawill,itmaybeassumedthathewouldhaveknownmuchaboutthe
requirementsofawillastheletterinquestionindicates.Hepickedupaproposedwillfromhisattorney
whichhadsetoutthedispositionsofhispropertyasdirectedintheletterandneverexecutedit;also,atno
timedidheindicatetothemanwhowashisclosestfrienduntilthedayofhisdeaththathehadeverleft
Mrs.Fischeranything.
Weareoftheopinionthattheletterinquestionwasnottestamentaryincharacteratthetimeofthedeathof
Mr.Peterson.

MANUELG.REYES,MILAG.REYES,DANILOG.REYES,LYNAGAPE,ESTEBANA
GALOLO,andCELSAAGAPE,petitioners,
vs.
COURTOFAPPEALSANDJULIOVIVARES,respondent.
Unless legally flawed, atestator'sintention inhislast will and testament isits"life and soul" which
deservesreverentialobservance.
Thecontroversybeforeusdealswithsuchacase.
PetitionersManuel G.Reyes,MilaG.Reyes,DaniloG.Reyes,LynAgape,MaritesAgape,Estebana
GaloloandCelsaAgape,theoppositorsinSpecialProceedingsNo.112fortheprobateofthewillof
TorcuatoJ.Reyes,assailinthispetitionforreviewthedecisionoftheCourtofAppeals 1datedNovember
29,1995,thedispositiveportionofwhichreads:
Wherefore,premisesconsidered,thejudgmentappealedfromallowingoradmittingthewillofTorcuatoJ.
ReyestoprobateanddirectingtheissuanceofLettersTestamentaryinfavorofpetitionJulioA.Vivaresas
executorwithoutbondisAFFIRMEDbutmodifiedinthatthedeclarationthatparagraphIIoftheTorcuato
Reyes'lastwillandtestament,includingsubparagraphs(a)and(b)arenullandvoidforbeingcontraryto
lawisherebySETASIDE,saidparagraphIIandsubparagraphs(a)and(b)aredeclaredVALID.Exceptas
abovemodified,thejudgmentappealedfromisAFFIRMED.
SOORDERED.2
Theantecedentfacts:
OnJanuary3,1992,TorcuatoJ.Reyesexecutedhislastwillandtestamentdeclaringthereininpart,towit:
xxxxxxxxx

II.IgiveandbequeathtomywifeAsuncion"Oning"R.Reyesthefollowingpropertiestowit:
a.Allmysharesofourpersonalpropertiesconsistingamongothersofjewelries,coins,antiques,statues,
tablewares,furnitures,fixturesandthebuilding;
b.Allmysharesconsistingofonehalf(1/2)or50%ofalltherealestatesIownincommonwithmy
brotherJose,situatedinMunicipalitiesofMambajao,Mahinog,Guinsiliban,SagayallinCamigiun;real
estates in Lunao, Gingoog, Caamulan, Sugbongcogon, BolocBoloc, Kinoguitan, Balingoan, Sta. Ines,
Talisay,allintheprovinceofMisamisOriental.3
ThewillconsistedoftwopagesandwassignedbyTorcuatoReyesinthepresenceofthreewitnesses:
Antonio Veloso, Gloria Borromeo, and Soledad Gaputan. Private respondent Julio A. Vivares was
designatedtheexecutorandinhisdefaultorincapacity,hissonRochAlanS.Vivares.
ReyesdiedonMay12,1992andonMay21,1992,privaterespondentfiledapetitionforprobateofthe
willbeforetheRegionalTrialCourtofMambajao,Camiguin.Thepetitionwassetforhearingandtheorder
waspublishedintheMindanaoDailyPost,anewspaperofgeneralcirculation,onceaweekforthree
consecutiveweeks.Noticeswerelikewisesenttoallthepersonsnamedinthepetition.
On July 21, 1992, the recognized natural children of Torcuato Reyes with Estebana Galolo, namely
Manuel,Mila,andDaniloallsurnamedReyes,andthedeceased'snatural childrenwithCelsaAgape,
namelyLynandMaritesAgape,filedanoppositionwiththefollowingallegations:a)thatthelastwilland
testamentofReyeswasnotexecutedandattestedinaccordancewiththeformalitiesoflaw;andb)that
AsuncionReyesEbarleexertedundueandimproperinfluenceuponthetestatoratthetimeoftheexecution
of the will. The opposition further averred that Reyes was never married to and could never marry
AsuncionReyes,thewomanheclaimedtobehiswifeinthewill,becausethelatterwasalreadymarriedto
LupoEbarlewhowasstillthenaliveandtheirmarriagewasneverannulled.Thus,Asuncioncannotbea
compulsoryheirforheropencohabitationwithReyeswasviolativeofpublicmorals.
OnJuly22,1992,thetrialcourtissuedanorderdeclaringthatithadAcquiredjurisdictionoverthepetition
and,therefore,allowedthepresentationofevidence.Afterthepresentationofevidenceandsubmissionof
therespectivememoranda,thetrialcourtissueditsdecisiononApril23,1993.
Thetrialcourtdeclaredthatthewillwasexecutedinaccordancewiththeformalitiesprescribedbylaw.It,
however,ruledthatAsuncionReyes,basedonthetestimoniesofthewitnesses,wasnevermarriedtothe
deceasedReyesand,therefore,theirrelationshipwasanadulterousone.
Thus:
TheadmissioninthewillbythetestatortotheillicitrelationshipbetweenhimandASUNCIONREYES
EBARLEwhoissomebodyelse'swife,isfurtherbolstered,strengthened,andconfirmedbythedirect
testimoniesofthepetitionerhimselfandhistwo"attesting"witnessesduringthetrial.
Inbothcases,thecommondenominatoristheimmoral,meretrecious,adulterousandillicitrelationship
existingbetweenthetestatorandthedeviseepriortothedeathofthetestator,whichconstitutedthesole
andprimaryconsiderationforthedeviseorlegacy,thusmakingthewillintrinsicallyinvalid. 4
ThewillofReyeswasadmittedtoprobateexcept forparagraphII(a)and(b)ofthewillwhichwas
declarednullandvoidforbeingcontrarytolawandmorals.Hence,JulioVivaresfiledanappealbeforethe
CourtofAppealswiththeallegationthattheoppositorsfailedtopresentanycompetentevidencethat

AsuncionReyeswaslegallymarriedtoanotherpersonduringtheperiodofhercohabitationwithTorcuato
Reyes.
OnNovember29,1995,theCourtofAppealspromulgatedtheassaileddecisionwhichaffirmedthetrial
court's decision admitting the will for probate but with the modification that paragraph II including
subparagraphs(a)and(b)weredeclaredvalid.Theappellatecourtstated:
Consideringthattheoppositorsnevershowedanycompetent,documentaryorotherwiseduringthetrialto
showthatAsuncion"Oning"Reyes'marriagetothetestatorwasinexistentorvoid,eitherbecauseofapre
existingmarriageoradulterousrelationship,thetrialcourtgravelyerredinstrikingdownparagraphII(a)
and (b) of the subject Last Will and Testament, as void for being contrary to law and morals. Said
declarationsarenotsufficienttodestroythepresumptionofmarriage.Norisitenoughtoovercomethe
verydeclarationofthetestatorthatAsuncionReyesishiswife.5
DissatisfiedwiththedecisionoftheCourtofAppeals,theoppositorsfiledthispetitionforreview.
PetitionerscontendthatthefindingsandconclusionoftheCourtofAppealswascontrarytolaw,public
policyandevidenceonrecord.TorcuatoReyesandAsuncion"Oning"Reyeswerecollateralrelativesupto
thefourthcivildegree.WitnessGloriaBorromeotestifiedthatOningReyeswashercousinashermother
andthelatter'sfatherweresisterandbrother.TheywerealsoniecesofthelateTorcuatoReyes.Thus,the
purportedmarriageofthedeceasedReyesandOningReyeswasvoid abinitio asitwasagainstpublic
policypursuanttoArticle38(1)oftheFamilyCode.PetitionersfurtherallegedthatOningReyeswas
alreadymarriedtoLupoEbarleatthetimeshewascohabitingwiththetestatorhence,shecouldnever
contractanyvalidmarriagewiththelatter.Petitionersarguedthatthetestimoniesofthewitnessesaswell
asthepersonaldeclarationofthetestator,himself,weresufficienttodestroythepresumptionofmarriage.
Tofurthersupporttheircontention,petitionersattachedacopyofthemarriagecertificateofAsuncion
ReyesandLupoEbarle.6
Thepetitionisdevoidofmerit.
Asageneralrule,courtsinprobateproceedingsarelimitedtopassonlyupontheextrinsicvalidityofthe
will sought tobe probated. 7 Thus,the court merelyinquires on its due execution,whether or not it
complieswiththeformalitiesprescribedbylaw,andthetestamentarycapacityofthetestator.Itdoesnot
determinenorevenbyimplicationprejudgethevalidityorefficacyofthewill'sprovisions. 8Theintrinsic
validityisnotconsideredsincetheconsiderationthereofusuallycomesonlyafterthewillhasbeenproved
andallowed.Thereare,however,notablecircumstanceswhereintheintrinsicvaliditywasfirstdetermined
aswhenthedefectofthewillisapparentonitsfaceandtheprobateofthewillmaybecomeauseless
ceremony if it is intrinsically invalid. 9 The intrinsic validity of a will may be passed upon because
"practicalconsiderations"demandeditaswhenthereispreteritionofheirsorthetestamentaryprovisions
areofdoubtfullegality.10Wherethepartiesagreethattheintrinsicvaliditybefirstdetermined,theprobate
court may also do so. 11 Parenthetically, the rule on probate is not inflexible and absolute. Under
exceptionalcircumstances,theprobatecourtisnotpowerlesstodowhatthesituationconstrainsittodo
andpassuponcertainprovisionsofthewill.12
ThecaseatbararosefromtheinstitutionofthepetitionfortheprobateofthewillofthelateTorcuato
Reyes.Perforce,theonlyissuestobesettledinthesaidproceedingwere:(1)whetherornotthetestatorhad
animustestandi;(2)whetherornotvicesofconsentattendedtheexecutionofthewill;and(3)whetheror
nottheformalitiesofthewillhadbeencompliedwith.Thus,thelowercourtwasnotaskedtoruleuponthe
intrinsicvalidityorefficacyoftheprovisionsofthewill.Asaresult,thedeclarationofthetestatorthat
Asuncion"Oning"Reyeswashiswifedidnothavetobescrutinizedduringtheprobateproceedings.The
proprietyoftheinstitutionofOningReyesasoneofthedevisees/legateesalreadyinvolvedinquiryonthe
will'sintrinsicvalidityandwhichneednotbeinquireduponbytheprobatecourt.

ThelowercourterroneouslyinvokedtherulinginNepomucenovs.CourtofAppeals(139SCRA206)in
theinstantcase.Inthecaseaforesaid,thetestatorhimself,acknowledgedhisillicitrelationshipwiththe
devisee,towit:
Art.IV.Thatsince1952,Ihavebeenliving,asmanandwife,withoneSofiaJ.Nepomuceno,whomI
declaredandavowtobeentitledtomylovean[sic]affection,forallthethingswhichshehasdoneforme,
nowandinthepast;thatwhileSofiaJ.Nepomucenohaswithmyfullknowledgeandconsent,didcomfort
andrepresentmyselfasherownhusband,intruthandinfact,aswellasintheeyesofthelaw,Icouldnot
bindhertomeintheholybondsofmatrimonybecauseofmyaforementionedpreviousmarriage.
Thus,theverytenorofthewillinvalidatesthelegacybecausethetestatoradmittedhewasdisposingofthe
propertiestoapersonwithwhomhehadbeenlivinginconcubinage. 13Toremandthecasewouldonlybea
wasteoftimeandmoneysincetheillegalityordefectwasalreadypatent.Thiscaseisdifferentfromthe
Nepomucenocase.TestatorTorcuatoReyesmerelystatedinhiswillthathewasbequeathingsomeofhis
personalandrealpropertiestohiswife,Asuncion"Oning"Reyes.Therewasneveranopenadmissionof
anyillicitrelationship.InthecaseofNepomuceno,thetestatoradmittedthathewasalreadypreviously
marriedandthathehadanadulterousrelationshipwiththedevisee.
WeagreewiththeCourtofAppealsthatthetrialcourtreliedonuncorroboratedtestimonialevidencethat
Asuncion Reyes was still married to another during the time she cohabited with the testator. The
testimoniesofthewitnessesweremerelyhearsayandevenuncertainastothewhereaboutsorexistenceof
LupoEbarle,thesupposedhusbandofAsuncion.Thus:
TheforegoingtestimonycannotgoagainstthedeclarationofthetestatorthatAsuncion"Oning"Reyesis
hiswife.InAlvaradov.CityGovernmentofTacloban(supra)theSupremeCourtstatedthatthedeclaration
oftheofthehusbandiscompetentevidencetoshowthefactofmarriage.
Consideringthattheoppositorsnevershowedanycompetentevidence,documentaryorotherwiseduring
thetrialtoshowthatAsuncion"Oning"Reyes'marriagetothetestatorwasinexistent orvoid,either
becauseofapreexistingmarriageoradulterousrelationship,thetrialcourtgravelyerredinstrikingdown
paragraphII(a)and(b)ofthesubjectLastWillandTestament,asvoidforbeingcontrarytolawand
morals.Saiddeclarationsarenotsufficienttodestroythepresumptionofmarriage.Norisitenoughto
overcometheverydeclarationofthetestatorthatAsuncionReyesishiswife.14
In the elegant language of Justice Moreland written decades ago, he
said
Awillisthetestatorspeakingafterdeath.Itsprovisionshavesubstantiallythesameforceandeffectinthe
probatecourtasifthetestatorstoodbeforethecourtinfulllifemakingthedeclarationsbywordofmouth
astheyappearinthewill.Thatwasthespecialpurposeofthelawinthecreationoftheinstrumentknown
asthelastwillandtestament.Menwishedtospeakaftertheyweredeadandthelaw,bythecreationofthat
instrument,permittedthemtodoso....Alldoubtsmustberesolvedinfavorofthetestator'shavingmeant
justwhathesaid.(Santosvs.Manarang,27Phil.209).
PetitionerstriedtorefutethisconclusionoftheCourtofAppealsbypresentingbelatedlyacopyofthe
marriagecertificateofAsuncionReyesandLupoEbarle.Theirfailuretopresentthesaidcertificatebefore
the probate court tosupport theirpositionthat AsuncionReyes hadan existingmarriage withEbarle
constitutedawaiverandthesameevidencecannolongerbeentertainedonappeal,muchlessinthis
petitionforreview.ThisCourtwouldnottrythecaseaneworsettlefactualissuessinceitsjurisdictionis
confinedtoresolvingquestionsoflawwhichhavebeenpasseduponbythelowercourts.Thesettledruleis
thatthefactualfindingsoftheappellatecourtwillnotbedisturbedunlessshowntobecontrarytothe
evidenceontherecord,whichpetitionershavenotshowninthiscase.15

Consideringtheforegoingpremises,wesustainthefindingsoftheappellatecourtitappearingthatitdid
notcommitareversibleerrorinissuingthechallengeddecision.
ACCORDINGLY, decision appealed from dated November 29, 1995, is hereby AFFIRMED and the
instantpetitionforreviewisDENIEDforlackofmerit.

MARINADIZONRIVERA,executrixappellee,
vs.
ESTELADIZON,TOMASV.DIZON,BERNARDITADIZON,JOSEFINADIZON,ANGELINA
DIZONandLILIADIZON,oppositorsappellants.
Punzalan,Yabut&Eusebioforexecutrixappellee.
LeonardoAbolaforoppositorsappellants.
AppealfromordersoftheCourtofFirstInstanceofPampangaapprovingtheExecutrixappellee'sproject
ofpartitioninsteadofOppositorsAppellants'proposedcounterprojectofpartition.1
OnJanuary28,1961,thetestatrix,AgripinaJ.Valdez,awidow,diedinAngeles,Pampanga,andwas
survivedbysevencompulsoryheirs,towit,sixlegitimatechildrennamedEstelaDizon,TomasV.Dizon,
BernarditaDizon,MarinaDizon(hereinexecutrixappellee),AngelinaDizonandJosefinaDizon,anda
legitimategranddaughternamedLiliaDizon,whoistheonlylegitimatechildandheirofRamonDizon,a
predeceasedlegitimatesonofthesaiddecedent.Sixofthesesevencompulsoryheirs(except Marina
Dizon,theexecutrixappellee)aretheoppositorsappellants.
ThedeceasedtestatrixleftalastwillexecutedonFebruary2,1960andwritteninthePampangodialect.
Named beneficiaries in her will were the abovenamed compulsory heirs, together with seven other
legitimategrandchildren,namelyPabloRivera,Jr.,GilbertD.Garcia,CayetanoDizon,FranciscoRivera,
AgripinaAyson,JollyJimenezandLaureanoTiambon.
Inherwill,thetestatrixdivided,distributedanddisposedofallherpropertiesappraisedatP1,801,960.00
(excepttwosmallparcelsoflandappraisedatP5,849.60,householdfurniturevaluedatP2,500.00,abank
deposit in the sum of P409.95 and ten shares of Pampanga Sugar Development Company valued at
P350.00)amongherabovenamedheirs.
Testateproceedingswereinduecoursecommenced 2andbyorderdatedMarch13,1961,thelastwilland
testamentofthedecedentwasdulyallowedandadmittedtoprobate,andtheappelleeMarinaDizonRivera
wasappointedexecutrixofthetestatrix'estate,anduponherfilingherbondandoathofoffice,letters
testamentaryweredulyissuedtoher.
Aftertheexecutrixfiledherinventoryoftheestate,Dr.AdelaidoBernardoofAngeles,Pampangawas
appointed commissioner to appraise the properties of the estate. He filed in due course his report of

appraisalandthesamewasapprovedintotobythelowercourtonDecember12,1963uponjointpetition
oftheparties.
Therealandpersonalpropertiesofthetestatrixatthetimeofherdeaththushadatotalappraisedvalueof
P1,811,695.60,andthelegitimeofeachofthesevencompulsoryheirsamountedtoP129,362.11. 3(/7of
thehalfoftheestatereservedforthelegitimeoflegitimatechildrenanddescendants). 4 Inherwill,the
testatrix "commanded that her property be divided" in accordance with her testamentary disposition,
wherebyshedevisedandbequeathedspecificrealpropertiescomprisingpracticallytheentirebulkofher
estateamonghersixchildrenandeightgrandchildren.Theappraisedvaluesoftherealpropertiesthus
respectivelydevisedbythetestatrixtothebeneficiariesnamedinherwill,areasfollows:
1.EstelaDizon.......................................P98,474.80
2.AngelinaDizon..................................106,307.06
3.BernarditaDizon..................................51,968.17
4.JosefinaDizon......................................52,056.39
5.TomasDizon.......................................131,987.41
6.LiliaDizon..............................................72,182.47
7.MarinaDizon.....................................1,148,063.71
8.PabloRivera,Jr.......................................69,280.00
9.LiliaDizon,GilbertGarcia,
CayetanoDizon,FranciscoRivera,
AgripinaAyson,DioliorJolly
Jimenez,LaureanoTiamzon.................72,540.00
TotalValue......................P1,801,960.01
TheexecutrixfiledherprojectofpartitiondatedFebruary5,1964,insubstanceadjudicatingtheestateas
follows:
(1) with the figure of P129,254.96 as legitime for a basis Marina (exacultrixappellee) and Tomas
(appellant)areadmittedlyconsideredtohavereceivedinthewillmorethantheirrespectivelegitime,while
therestoftheappellants,namely,Estela,Bernardita,Angelina,JosefinaandLiliareceivedlessthantheir
respectivelegitime;
(2)thus,toeachofthelatterareadjudicatedthepropertiesrespectivelygiventheminthewill,pluscash
and/orproperties,tocompletetheirrespectivelegitimestoP129,254.96;(3)ontheotherhand,Marinaand
Tomasareadjudicatedthepropertiesthattheyreceivedinthewilllessthecashand/orpropertiesnecessary
tocompletetheprejudicedlegitimementionedinnumber2above;
(4)theadjudicationsmadeinthewillinfavorofthegrandchildrenremainuntouched.<re||an1w>
OntheotherhandoppositorssubmittedtheirowncounterprojectofpartitiondatedFebruary14,1964,
whereintheyproposedthedistributionoftheestateonthefollowingbasis:
(a)allthetestamentarydispositionswereproportionallyreducedtothevalueofonehalf()oftheentire
estate,thevalueofthesaidonehalf()amountingtoP905,534.78;(b)thesharesoftheOppositors
Appellantsshouldconsistoftheirlegitime,plusthedevisesintheirfavorproportionallyreduced;(c)in
paymentofthetotalsharesoftheappellantsintheentireestate,thepropertiesdevisedtothemplusother
propertiesleftbytheTestatrixand/orcashareadjudicatedtothem;and(d)tothegrandchildrenwhoare
notcompulsoryheirsareadjudicatedthepropertiesrespectivelydevisedtothemsubjecttoreimbursement
byGilbert D.Garcia,et al.,ofthe sumsbywhich the deviseintheir favor shouldbeproportionally
reduced.

Undertheoppositors'counterprojectofpartition,thetestamentarydispositionmadebythetestatrixof
practicallyherwholeestateofP1,801,960.01,asabovestated,wereproposedtobereducedtotheamounts
setforthafterthenamesoftherespectiveheirsanddeviseestotallingonehalfthereofasfollows:
1.EstelaDizon...........................................P49,485.56
2.AngelinaDizon.........................................53,421.42
3.BernarditaDizon.......................................26,115.04
4.JosefinaDizon..........................................26,159.38
5.TomasV.Dizon.........................................65,874.04
6.LiliaDizon..................................................36,273.13
7.MarinaDizon...........................................576,938.82
8.PabloRivera,Jr..........................................34,814.50
9.GrandchildrenGilbertGarciaetal..........36,452.80
Total...................................................P905,534.78
while the other half of the estate (P905,534.78) would be deemed as constituting the legitime of the
executrixappellee and oppositorsappellants, to be divided among them in seven equal parts of
P129,362.11astheirrespectivelegitimes.
The lower court, after hearing, sustained and approved the executrix' project of partition, ruling that
"(A)rticles906and907oftheNewCivilCodespecificallyprovidethatwhenthelegitimeisimpairedor
prejudiced,thesameshallbecompletedandsatisfied.Whileitistruethatthisprocesshasbeenfollowed
andadheredtointhetwoprojectsofpartition,itisobservedthattheexecutrixandtheoppositorsdifferin
respecttothesourcefromwhichtheportionorportionsshallbetakeninordertofullyrestoretheimpaired
legitime.Thepropositionoftheoppositors,ifupheld,willsubstantiallyresultinadistributionofintestacy,
whichisincontroversionofArticle791oftheNewCivilCode"addingthat"thetestatrixhaschosento
favorcertainheirsinherwillforreasonsofherown,cannotbedoubted.Thisislegallypermissiblewithin
thelimitationofthelaw,asaforecited."WithreferencetothepaymentincashofsomeP230,552.38,
principally by the executrix as the largest beneficiary of the will to be paid to her five coheirs, the
oppositors(excludingTomasDizon),tocompletetheirimpairedlegitimes,thelowercourtruledthat"(T)he
paymentincashsoastomaketheproperadjustmenttomeetwiththerequirementsofthelawinrespectto
legitimeswhichhavebeenimpairedis,inouropinion,apracticalandvalidsolutioninordertogiveeffect
tothelastwishesofthetestatrix."
Fromthelowercourt'sordersofapproval,oppositorsappellantshavefiledthisappeal,andraiseanewthe
followingissues:.
1.Whetherornotthetestamentarydispositionsmadeinthetestatrix'willareinthenatureofdevises
imputabletothefreeportionofherestate,andthereforesubjecttoreduction;
2.WhethertheappellantsareentitledtothedeviseplustheirlegitimeunderArticle1063,ormerelyto
demandcompletionoftheirlegitimeunderArticle906oftheCivilCode;and
3.Whethertheappellantsmaybecompelledtoacceptpaymentincashonaccountoftheirlegitime,instead
ofsomeoftherealpropertiesleftbytheTestatrix;
whichwereadverselydecidedagainstthemintheproceedingsbelow.
Theissuesraisedpresentamatterofdeterminingtheavowedintentionofthetestatrixwhichis"thelifeand
soulofawill."5Inconsonancetherewith,ourCivilCodeincludedthenewprovisionsfoundinArticles788
and791thereofthat"(I)fatestamentarydispositionadmitsofdifferentinterpretations,incaseofdoubt,

thatinterpretationbywhichthedispositionistobeoperativeshallbepreferred"and"(T)hewordsofawill
aretoreceiveaninterpretationwhichwillgivetoeveryexpressionsomeeffect,ratherthanonewhichwill
renderanyoftheexpressionsinoperative;andoftwomodesofinterpretingawill,thatistobepreferred
whichwillpreventintestacy."InVillanuevavs.Juico6forviolationoftheserulesofinterpretationaswell
asofRule123,section59oftheoldRulesofCourt, 7 theCourt,speakingthroughMr.JusticeJ.B.L.
Reyes,overturnedthelowercourt'sdecisionandstressedthat"theintentionandwishesofthetestator,
whenclearlyexpressedinhiswill,constitutethefixedlawofinterpretation,andallquestionsraisedatthe
trial,relativetoitsexecutionandfulfillment,mustbesettledinaccordancetherewith,followingtheplain
andliteralmeaningofthetestator'swords,unlessitclearlyappearsthathisintentionwasotherwise."8
Thetestator'swishesandintentionconstitutethefirstandprincipallawinthematteroftestaments,andto
paraphraseanearlydecisionoftheSupremeCourtofSpain,9whenexpressedclearlyandpreciselyinhis
lastwillamounttotheonlylawwhosemandatemustimperativelybefaithfullyobeyedandcompliedwith
byhisexecutors,heirsanddeviseesandlegatees,andneithertheseinterestedpartiesnorthecourtsmay
substitutetheirowncriterionforthetestator'swill.Guidedandrestrictedbythesefundamentalpremises,
theCourtfindsfortheappellee.
1.Decisiveoftheissuesatbaristhefactthatthetestatrix'testamentarydispositionwasinthenatureofa
partitionofherestatebywill.Thus,inthethirdparagraphofherwill,aftercommandingthatuponher
deathallherobligationsaswellastheexpensesofherlastillnessandfuneralandtheexpensesforprobate
ofherlastwillandfortheadministrationofherpropertyinaccordancewithlaw,bepaid,sheexpressly
provided that "it is my wish and I command that my property be divided" in accordance with the
dispositionsimmediatelythereafterfollowing,wherebyshespecifiedeachrealpropertyinherestateand
designatedtheparticularheiramonghersevencompulsoryheirsandsevenothergrandchildrentowhom
shebequeathedthesame.Thiswasavalidpartition 10ofherestate,ascontemplatedandauthorizedinthe
firstparagraphofArticle1080oftheCivilCode,providingthat"(S)houldapersonmakeapartitionofhis
estatebyanactintervivosorbywill,suchpartitionshallberespected,insofarasitdoesnotprejudicethe
legitimeofthecompulsoryheirs."Thisrightofatestatortopartitionhisestateissubjectonlytotherightof
compulsory heirs to their legitime. The Civil Code thus provides the safeguard for the right of such
compulsoryheirs:
ART.906.Anycompulsoryheirtowhomthetestatorhasleftbyanytitlelessthanthelegitimebelonging
tohimmaydemandthatthesamebefullysatisfied.
ART.907.Testamentarydispositionsthatimpairordiminishthelegitimeofthecompulsoryheirsshallbe
reducedonpetitionofthesame,insofarastheymaybeinofficiousorexcessive.
This was properly complied with in the executrixappellee's project of partition, wherein the five
oppositorsappellants namely Estela, Bernardita, Angelina, Josefina and Lilia, were adjudicated the
propertiesrespectivelydistributedandassignedtothembythetestatrixinherwill,andthedifferentialto
completetheirrespectivelegitimesofP129,362.11eachweretakenfromthecashand/orpropertiesofthe
executrixappellee,Marina,andtheircooppositorappellant,Tomas,whoadmittedlywerefavoredbythe
testatrixandreceivedinthepartitionbywillmorethantheirrespectivelegitimes.
2.ThisrightofatestatortopartitionhisestatebywillwasrecognizedeveninArticle1056oftheoldCivil
CodewhichhasbeenreproducednowasArticle1080ofthepresentCivilCode.Theonlyamendmentin
theprovisionwasthatArticle1080"nowpermitsany person (notatestator,asundertheoldlaw)to
partitionhisestatebyactintervivos."11Thiswasintendedtorepealthethenprevailingdoctrine 12thatfora
testatortopartitionhisestatebyanact intervivos,hemustfirst makeawillwithalltheformalities
providedbylaw.Authoritativecommentatorsdoubttheefficacyoftheamendment 13butthequestiondoes
nothereconcernus,forthisisaclearcaseofpartitionbywill,dulyadmittedtoprobate,whichperforce
mustbegivenfullvalidityandeffect.AsidefromtheprovisionsofArticles906and907abovequoted,

othercodalprovisionssupporttheexecutrixappellee'sprojectofpartitionasapprovedbythelowercourt
ratherthanthecounterprojectofpartitionproposedbyoppositorsappellantswherebytheywouldreduce
thetestamentarydispositionorpartitionmadebythetestatrixtoonehalfandlimitthesame,whichthey
wouldconsiderasmeredevisesorlegacies,toonehalfoftheestateasthedisposablefreeportion,and
applytheotherhalfoftheestatetopaymentofthelegitimesofthesevencompulsoryheirs.Oppositors'
proposalwouldamountsubstantiallytoadistributionbyintestacyandprotantonullifythetestatrix'will,
contrarytoArticle791oftheCivilCode.ItwouldfurtherruncountertotheprovisionsofArticle1091of
theCivilCodethat"(A)partitionlegallymadeconfersuponeachheirtheexclusiveownershipofthe
propertyadjudicatedtohim."
3.InHabanavs.Imbo,14theCourtupheldthedistributionmadeinthewillofthedeceasedtestatorPedro
Tevesoftwolargecoconutplantationsinfavorofhisdaughter,Concepcion,asagainstadverseclaimsof
othercompulsoryheirs,asbeingapartitionbywill,whichshouldberespectedinsofarasitdoesnot
prejudicethelegitimeofthecompulsoryheirs,inaccordancewithArticle1080oftheCivilCode.In
upholdingthesalemadebyConcepciontoastrangeroftheplantationsthuspartitionedinherfavorinthe
deceased's will which was being questioned by the other compulsory heirs, the Court ruled that
"ConcepcionTevesbyoperationoflaw,becametheabsoluteownerofsaidlotsbecause'Apartitionlegally
madeconfersuponeachheirtheexclusiveownershipofthepropertyadjudicatedtohim'(Article1091,
NewCivilCode),fromthedeathofherancestors,subjecttorightsandobligationsofthelatter,and,she
cannotbedeprivedofherrightstheretoexceptbythemethodsprovidedforbylaw(Arts.657,659,and
661,CivilCode).15ConcepcionTevescould,asshedid,sellthelotsinquestionaspartofhershareofthe
proposedpartitionoftheproperties,especiallywhen,asinthepresentcase,thesalehasbeenexpressly
recognizedbyherselfandhercoheirs..."
4.Theburdenofoppositors'contentionisthatthetestamentarydispositionsintheirfavorareinthenature
ofdevisesofrealproperty,citingthetestatrix'repeateduseofthewords"Ibequeath"inherassignmentor
distributionofherrealpropertiestotherespectiveheirs.Fromthiserroneouspremise,theyproceedtothe
equallyerroneousconclusionthat"thelegitimeofthecompulsoryheirspassestothembyoperationoflaw
andthatthetestatorcanonlydisposeofthefreeportion,thatis,theremainderoftheestateafterdeducting
thelegitimeofthecompulsoryheirs...andalltestamentarydispositions,eitherinthenatureofinstitution
ofheirsorofdevisesorlegacies,havetobetakenfromtheremainderofthetestator'sestateconstituting
thefreeportion."16
Oppositorserrintheirpremises,fortheadjudicationsandassignmentsinthetestatrix'willofspecific
propertiestospecificheirscannotbeconsideredalldevises,foritclearlyappearfromthewholecontextof
thewillandthedispositionbythetestatrixofherwholeestate(saveforsomesmallpropertiesoflittle
valuealreadynotedatthebeginningofthisopinion)thatherclearintentionwastopartitionherwhole
estatethroughherwill.Therepeateduseofthewords"Ibequeath"inhertestamentarydispositionsacquire
nolegalsignificance,suchastoconvertthesameintodevisestobetakensolelyfromthefreeonehalf
disposableportionoftheestate.Furthermore,thetestatrix'intentthathertestamentarydispositionswereby
wayofadjudicationstothebeneficiariesasheirsandnotasmeredevisees,andthatsaiddispositionswere
thereforeonaccountoftherespectivelegitimesofthecompulsoryheirsisexpresslyborneoutinthefourth
paragraphofherwill,immediatelyfollowinghertestamentaryadjudicationsinthethirdparagraphinthis
wise:"FOURTH:IlikewisecommandthatincaseanyofthoseInamedasmyheirsinthistestamentanyof
themshalldiebeforeIdo,hisforcedheirsunderthelawenforcedatthetimeofmydeathshallinheritthe
propertiesIbequeathtosaiddeceased."17
Oppositors' conclusions necessarily are in error. The testamentary dispositions of the testatrix, being
dispositionsinfavorofcompulsoryheirs,donothavetobetakenonlyfromthefreeportionoftheestate,
ascontended,forthesecondparagraphofArticle842oftheCivilCodepreciselyprovidesthat"(O)newho
hascompulsoryheirsmaydisposeofhisestateprovidedhedoesnotcontravenetheprovisionsofthisCode
withregardtothelegitimeofsaidheirs."Andevengoingbyoppositors'owntheoryofbequests,the

second paragraph of Article 912 Civil Code covers precisely the case of the executrixappellee, who
admittedlywasfavoredbythetestatrixwiththelargebulkofherestateinprovidingthat"(T)hedevisee
whoisentitledtoalegitimemayretaintheentireproperty,provideditsvaluedoesnotexceedthatofthe
disposableportionandofthesharepertainingtohimaslegitime."For"diversityofapportionmentisthe
usual reason for making a testament; otherwise, the decedent might as well die intestate." 18
Fundamentally,ofcourse,thedispositionsbythetestatrixconstitutedapartitionbywill,whichbymandate
ofArticle1080oftheCivilCodeandoftheothercitedcodalprovisionsupholdingtheprimacyofthe
testator'slastwillandtestament,havetoberespectedinsofarastheydonotprejudicethelegitimeofthe
othercompulsoryheirs.
Oppositors'invokingofArticle1063oftheCivilCodethat"(P)ropertyleftbywillisnotdeemedsubjectto
collation,ifthetestatorhasnototherwiseprovided,butthelegitimeshallinanycaseremainunimpaired"
andinvokingoftheconstructionthereofgivenbysomeauthoritiesthat"'notdeemedsubjecttocollation'in
thisarticlereallymeansnotimputabletoorchargeableagainstthelegitime",whileitmayhavesome
plausibility 19 inanappropriatecase,hasnoapplicationinthepresentcase.Here,wehaveacaseofa
distribution and partition of the entire estate by the testatrix, without her having made any previous
donationsduringherlifetimewhichwouldrequirecollationtodeterminethelegitimeofeachheirnor
havingleftmerelysomepropertiesbywillwhichwouldcallfortheapplicationofArticles1061to1063of
theCivilCodeoncollation.Theamountofthelegitimeoftheheirsisheredeterminedandundisputed.
5. With this resolution of the decisive issue raised by oppositorsappellants, the secondary issues are
likewisenecessarilyresolved.TheirrightwasmerelytodemandcompletionoftheirlegitimeunderArticle
906oftheCivilCodeandthishasbeencompliedwithintheapprovedprojectofpartition,andtheycanno
longerdemandafurthersharefromtheremainingportionoftheestate,asbequeathedandpartitionedby
thetestatrixprincipallytotheexecutrixappellee.
Neithermaytheappellantslegallyinsistontheirlegitimebeingcompletedwithrealpropertiesoftheestate
insteadofbeingpaidincash,pertheapprovedprojectofpartition.Thepropertiesarenotavailableforthe
purpose,asthetestatrixhadspecificallypartitionedanddistributedthemtoherheirs,andtheheirsare
calledupon,asfarasfeasibletocomplywithandgiveeffecttotheintentionofthetestatrixassolemnized
inherwill,byimplementinghermanifestwishoftransmittingtherealpropertiesintacttohernamed
beneficiaries,principallytheexecutrixappellee.Theappraisalreportofthepropertiesoftheestateasfiled
bythecommissionerappointedbythelowercourtwasapprovedintotouponjointpetitionoftheparties,
andhence,therecannotbesaidtobeanyquestionandnoneispresentedastofairnessofthe
valuationthereoforthatthelegitimeoftheheirsintermsofcashhasbeenunderstated.Theplaintof
oppositorsthatthepurchasingvalueofthePhilippinepesohasgreatlydeclinedsincethetestatrix'deathin
January,1961providesnolegalbasisorjustificationforoverturningthewishesandintentofthetestatrix.
Thetransmissionofrightstothesuccessionaretransmittedfromthemomentofdeathofthedecedent
(Article777,CivilCode)andaccordingly,thevaluethereofmustbereckonedasofthen,asotherwise,
estateswouldneverbesettledifthereweretobearevaluationwitheverysubsequentfluctuationinthe
valuesofthecurrencyandpropertiesoftheestate.ThereisevidenceintherecordthatpriortoNovember
25,1964,oneoftheoppositors,Bernardita,acceptedthesumofP50,000.00onaccountofherinheritance,
which,pertheparties'manifestation, 20 "doesnotinanywayaffecttheadjudicationmadetoherinthe
projectsofpartitionofeitherpartyasthesameisamereadvanceofthecashthatsheshouldreceiveinboth
projectsofpartition."Thepaymentincashbywayofmakingtheproperadjustmentsinordertomeetthe
requirementsofthelawonnonimpairmentoflegitimesaswellastogiveeffecttothelastwillofthe
testatrixhasinvariablybeenavailedofandsanctioned. 21Thathercooppositorswouldreceivetheircash
differentials only now when the value of the currency has declined further, whereas they could have
receivedthemearlier,likeBernardita,atthetimeofapprovaloftheprojectofpartitionandwhenthepeso's
purchasingvaluewashigher,isduetotheirowndecisionofpursuingthepresentappeal.

ESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE REVEREND FATHER PASCUAL RIGOR. THE PARISH
PRIESTOFTHEROMANCATHOLICCHURCHOFVICTORIA,TARLAC,petitionerappellant,
vs.
BELINA RIGOR, NESTORA RIGOR, FRANCISCA ESCOBAR DE RIGOR and JOVITA
ESCOBARDEFAUSTO,respondentsappellees.
D.Taedo,Jr.forappellants.
J.Palanca,Sr.forappellee.
ThiscaseisabouttheefficaciousnessorenforceabilityofadeviseofricelandslocatedatGuimba,Nueva
Ecija,withatotalareaofaroundfortyfourhectaresThatdevisewasmadeinthewillofthelateFather
PascualRigor,anativeofVictoriaTarlac,infavorofhisnearestmalerelativewhowouldstudyforthe
priesthood.
TheparishpriestofVictoria,whoclaimedtobeatrusteeofthesaidlands,appealedtothisCourtfromthe
decisionoftheCourtofAppealsaffirmingtheorderoftheprobatecourtdeclaringthatthesaiddevisewas
inoperative(Rigorvs.ParishPriestoftheRomanCatholicChurchofVictoria,Tarlac,CAG.R.No.24319
R,August1,1963).
Therecorddisclosesthat FatherRigor,theparishpriestofPulilan,Bulacan,diedonAugust9,1935,
leavingawillexecutedonOctober29,1933whichwasprobatedbytheCourtofFirstInstanceofTarlacin
itsorderofDecember5,1935.Namedasdeviseesinthewillwerethetestatorsnearestrelatives,namely,
his three sisters: Florencia RigorEscobar, Belina RigorManaloto and Nestora RigorQuiambao. The
testatorgaveadevisetohiscousin,FortunatoGamalinda.
In addition, the will contained the followingcontroversial bequest (paragraphing supplied tofacilitate
comprehensionofthetestamentaryprovisions):
DoyydejocomolegadoCUATRO(4)PARCELASdeterrenopalayerossituadosenelmunicipiooode
GuimbadelaprovinciaaadeNUEVAECIJA,cuyonum.deCERTIFICADODETRANSFERENCIADE
TITULOSON;TituloNum.6530,mide16,249m.cuadradosdesuperficieTituloNum.6548,mide
242,998m.cuadradosdesuperficieyannual6525,mide62,665m.cuadradosdesuperficie;yTituloNum.
6521,mide119,251m.cuadradosdesuperficie;acualquierparientemiovaronmascercanoqueestudiela
carreraeclesiaticahastaordenarsedePresbiteradooseaSacerdote;lascondicionesdeestatelegadoson;
(1.a)Prohibeenabsolutolaventadeestosterrenosarribasituadosobjectosdeestelegado;
(2.a)Queellegatarioparientemiomascercanotendraderechodeempezaragozaryadministrardeeste
legadoalprincipiaracurzarlaSagradaTeologio,yordenadodeSacerdote,hastasumuerte;peroque
pierdeellegatarioestederechodeadministrarygozardeestelegadoaldejardecontinuarsusestudiospara
ordenarsedePresbiterado(Sacerdote).
QueellegatariounavezSacerdoteyaestaraobligadoacelebrarcadaaoVEINTE(20)Misasrezadasen
sufragiodemialmaydemispadresdifuntos,ysielactuallegatario,quedaseexcomulgado,IPSOFACTO
seledespojaestelegado,ylaadministraciondeestopasaraacargodelactualParrocoysussucesoresdela
IgleciaCatolicadeVictoria,Tarlac.
Yenintervalodetiempoquenohayalegatarioacondicionadosegunloarribaquedaexpresado,pasarala
administraciondeestelegadoacargodelactualParrocoCatolicoysussucesores,deVictoria,Tarlac.

ElParrocoadministradordeestatelegado,acumulara,anualmentetodoslosproductosquepuedetener
estatelegado,ganandoosacandodelosproductosanualeselCINCO(5)porcientoparasuadministracion,
ylosderechoscorrespondientesdelasVEINTE(20)MisasrezadasquedebieraelParrococelebrarcada
ao,depositandotodolorestantedelosproductosdeestatelegado,enunbanco,anombredeestatelegado.
Toimplementtheforegoingbequest,theadministratixin1940submittedaprojectcontainingthefollowing
item:
5.LEGACYOFTHECHURCH
Thatitbeadjudicatedinfavorofthelegacypurportedtobegiventothenearestmalerelativewhoshall
takethepriesthood,andintheinterimtobeadministeredbytheactualCatholicPriestoftheRoman
Catholic Church of Victoria, Tarlac, Philippines, or his successors, the real properties hereinbelow
indicated,towit:
TitleNo.

LotNo.

AreainHas.

TaxDec.

Ass.Value

T6530

3663

1.6249

18740

P340.00

T6548

3445C

24.2998

18730

7,290.00

T6525

3670

6.2665

18736

1,880.00

T6521

3666

11.9251

18733

3,580.00

Totalamountandvalue44.1163P13,090.00
JudgeRomanA.CruzinhisorderofAugust15,1940,approvingtheprojectofpartition,directedthatafter
paymentoftheobligationsoftheestate(includingthesumofP3,132.26duetothechurchoftheVictoria
parish)theadministratrixshoulddelivertothedeviseestheirrespectiveshares.
It may be noted that the administratrix and Judge Cruz did not bother to analyze the meaning and
implicationsofFatherRigor'sbequesttohisnearestmalerelativewhowouldstudyforthepriesthood.
Inasmuchasnonephewofthetestatorclaimedthedeviseandastheadministratrixandthelegalheirs
believedthattheparishpriestofVictoriahadnorighttoadministerthericelands,thesamewerenot
deliveredtothatecclesiastic.Thetestateproceedingremainedpending.
Aboutthirteenyearsaftertheapprovaloftheprojectofpartition,oronFebruary19,1954,theparishpriest
of Victoria filed in the pending testate proceeding a petition praying for the appointment of a new
administrator(succeedingthedeceasedadministrationFlorenciaRigor),whoshoulddelivertothechurch
thesaidricelands,andfurtherprayingthatthepossessorsthereofbeorderedtorenderanaccountingofthe
fruits.Theprobatecourtgrantedthepetition.Anewadministratorwasappointed.OnJanuary31,1957the
parishpriestfiledanotherpetitionforthedeliveryofthericelandstothechurchastrustee.

TheintestateheirsofFatherRigorcounteredwithapetitiondatedMarch25,1957prayingthatthebequest
bedinoperativeandthattheybeadjudgedasthepersonsentitledtothesaidricelandssince,asadmittedby
theparishpriestofVictoria,"nonearestmalerelativeof"thetestator"haseverstudiedforthepriesthood"
(pp.25and35,RecordonAppeal).ThatpetitionwasopposedbytheparishpriestofVictoria.
Findingthatpetitiontobemeritorious,thelowercourt,throughJudgeBernabedeAquino,declaredthe
bequestinoperativeandadjudicatedthericelandstothetestator'slegalheirsinhisorderofJune28,1957.
Theparishpriestfiledtwomotionsforreconsideration.
JudgeDeAquinograntedtherespondmotionforreconsiderationinhisorderofDecember10,1957onthe
groundthatthetestatorhadagrandnephewnamedEdgardoG.Cunanan(thegrandsonofhisfirstcousin)
whowasaseminarianintheSanJoseSeminaryoftheJesuitFathersinQuezonCity.Theadministrator
wasdirectedtodeliverthericelandstotheparishpriestofVictoriaastrustee.
ThelegalheirsappealedtotheCourtofAppeals.Itreversedthatorder.ItheldthatFatherRigorhad
createdatestamentarytrustforhisnearestmalerelativewhowouldtaketheholyordersbutthatsuchtrust
couldexistonlyfortwentyyearsbecausetoenforceitbeyondthatperiodwouldviolate"theruleagainst
perpetuities.Itruledthatsincenolegateeclaimedthericelandswithintwentyyearsafterthetestator's
death,thesameshouldpasstohislegalheirs,citingarticles888and912(2)oftheoldCivilCodeand
article870ofthenewCivilCode.
TheparishpriestinthisappealcontendsthattheCourtofAppealserredinnotfindingthatthetestator
createdapubliccharitabletrustandinnotliberallyconstruingthetestamentaryprovisionssoastorender
thetrustoperativeandtopreventintestacy.
Asrefutation,thelegalheirsarguethattheCourtofAppealsdthebequestinoperativebecausenoone
amongthetestator'snearestmalerelativeshadstudiedforthepriesthoodandnotbecausethetrustwasa
privatecharitabletrust.Accordingtothelegalheirs,thatfactualfindingisbindingonthisCourt.They
pointoutthatappellantpriest'schangeoftheorycannotbecountenancedinthisappeal.
Inthiscase,asincasesinvolvingthelawofcontractsandstatutoryconstruction,wheretheintentionofthe
contractingpartiesorofthelawmakingbodyistobeascertained,theprimaryissueisthedeterminationof
thetestator'sintentionwhichisthelawofthecase(dicattestoreteritlex.Santosvs.Manarang,27Phil.
209,215;Rodriguezvs.CourtofAppeals,L28734,March28,1969,27SCRA546).
Thewillofthetestatoristhefirstandprincipallawinthematteroftestaments.Whenhisintentionis
clearlyandpreciselyexpressed,anyinterpretationmustbeinaccordwiththeplainandliteralmeaningof
hiswords,exceptwhenitmaycertainlyappearthathisintentionwasdifferentfromthatliterallyexpressed
(InreEstateofCalderon,26Phil.333).
Theintentofthetestatoristhecardinalruleintheconstructionofwills."Itis"thelifeandsoulofawillIt
is"thefirstgreatestrule,thesovereignguide,thepolestar,ingivingeffecttoawill".(SeeDissentofJustice
MorelandinSantosvs.Manarang,27Phil.209,223,2378.)
Onecanonintheinterpretationofthetestamentaryprovisionsisthat "thetestator'sintentionistobe
ascertainedfromthewordsofthewilttakingintoconsiderationthecircumstancesunderwhichitwas
made", but excluding the testator's oral declarations as to his intention (Art. 789, Civil Code of the
Philippines).
ToascertainFatherRigor'sintention,itmaybeusefultomakethefollowingrestatementoftheprovisions
ofhiswill.

1. that he bequeathed the ricelands to anyone of his nearest male relatives who would pursue an
ecclesiasticalcareeruntilhisordinationasapriest.
2.Thatthedeviseecouldnotsellthericelands.
3. That the devisee at the inceptionof hisstudies insacred theology couldenjoy and administer the
ricelands,andonceordainedasapriest,hecouldcontinueenjoyingandadministeringthesameuptothe
timeofhisdeathbutthedeviseewouldceasetoenjoyandadministerthericelandsifhediscontinuedhis
studiesforthepriesthood.
4.Thatifthedeviseebecameapriest,hewouldbeobligatedtocelebrateeveryyeartwentymasseswith
prayersforthereposeofthesoulsofFatherRigorandhisparents.
5.Thatifthedeviseeisexcommunicated,hewouldbedivestedofthelegacyandtheadministrationofthe
ricelandwouldpasstotheincumbentparishpriestofVictoriaandhissuccessors.
6. That during the interval of time that there is no qualified devisee as contemplated above, the
administrationofthericelandswouldbeundertheresponsibilityoftheincumbentparishpriestofVictoria
andhissuccessors,and
7.Thattheparishpriestadministratorofthericelandswouldaccumulateannuallytheproductsthereof,
obtaining or getting from the annual produce five percent thereof for his administration and the fees
correspondingtothetwentymasseswithprayersthat theparishpriest wouldcelebrateforeachyear,
depositingthebalanceoftheincomeofthedeviseinthebankinthenameofhisbequest.
Fromtheforegoingtestamentaryprovisions,itmaybededucedthatthetestatorintendedtodevisethe
ricelandstohisnearestmalerelativewhowouldbecomeapriest,whowasforbiddentosellthericelands,
whowouldlosethedeviseifhediscontinuedhisstudiesforthepriesthood,orhavingbeenordaineda
priest,hewasexcommunicated,andwhowouldbeobligatedtosayannuallytwentymasseswithprayers
forthereposeofthesoulsofthetestatorandhisparents.
Ontheotherhand,itisclearthattheparishpriestofVictoriawouldadministerthericelandsonlyintwo
situations:one,duringtheintervaloftimethatnonearestmalerelativeofthetestatorwasstudyingforthe
priesthoodandtwo,incasethetestator'snephewbecameapriestandhewasexcommunicated.
Whatisnotclearisthedurationof"elintervalodetiempoquenohayalegatarioacondicionado",orhow
long after the testator's death would it be determined that he had a nephew who would pursue an
ecclesiasticalvocation.Itisthatpatentambiguitythathasbroughtaboutthecontroversybetweentheparish
priestofVictoriaandthetestator'slegalheirs.
Interwovenwiththatequivocalprovisionisthetimewhenthenearestmalerelativewhowouldstudyfor
thepriesthoodshouldbedetermined.Didthetestatorcontemplateonlyhisnearestmalerelativeatthetime
ofhisdeath?Ordidhehaveinmindanyofhisnearestmalerelativesatanytimeafterhisdeath?
Weholdthatthesaidbequestreferstothetestator'snearestmalerelativelivingatthetimeofhisdeathand
nottoanyindefinitetimethereafter."Inordertobecapacitatedtoinherit,theheir,deviseeorlegateemust
belivingatthemomentthesuccessionopens,exceptincaseofrepresentation,whenitisproper"(Art.
1025,CivilCode).

Thesaidtestamentaryprovisionsshouldbesensiblyorreasonablyconstrued.Toconstruethemasreferring
tothetestator'snearestmalerelativeat anytimeafterhisdeath wouldrendertheprovisionsdifficultto
applyandcreateuncertaintyastothedispositionofhisestate.Thatcouldnothavebeenhisintention.
In1935,whenthetestatordied,hisnearestleagalheirswerehisthreesistersorseconddegreerelatives,
Mrs.Escobar,Mrs.ManalotoandMrs.Quiambao.Obviously,whenthetestatorspecifiedhisnearestmale
relative,hemusthavehadinmindhisnepheworasonofhissister,whowouldbehisthirddegreerelative,
orpossiblyagrandnephew.Butsincehecouldnotprognosticatetheexactdateofhisdeathorstatewith
certitudewhatcategoryofnearestmalerelativewouldbelivingatthetimeofhisdeath,hecouldnot
specifythathisnearestmalerelativewouldbehisnepheworgrandnephews(thesonofhisnephewor
niece)andsohehadtousetheterm"nearestmalerelative".
ItiscontendedbythelegalheirsthatthesaiddevisewasinrealityintendedforRamonQuiambao,the
testator'snephewandgodchild,whowasthesonofhissister,Mrs.Quiambao.Toprovethatcontention,the
legalheirspresentedinthelowercourttheaffidavitofBeatrizGamalinda,thematernalgrandmotherof
EdgardoCunanan,whodeposedthatafterFatherRigor'sdeathherownson,ValentinGamalinda,Jr.,did
notclaimthedevise,althoughhewasstudyingforthepriesthoodattheSanCarlosSeminary,becauseshe
(Beatriz)knewthatFatherRigorhadintendedthatdeviseforhisnearestmalerelative beloningtothe
Rigorfamily(pp.105114,RecordonAppeal).
Mrs. Gamalinda further deposed that her own grandchild, Edgardo G. Cunanan, was not the one
contemplatedinFatherRigor'swillandthatEdgardo'sfathertoldherthathewasnotconsultedbythe
parishpriestofVictoriabeforethelatterfiledhissecondmotionforreconsiderationwhichwasbasedon
the ground that the testator's grandnephew, Edgardo, was studying for the priesthood at the San Jose
Seminary.
Parenthetically,itshouldbestatedatthisjuncturethatEdgardoceasedtobeaseminarianin1961.Forthat
reason, the legal heirs apprised the Court of Appeals that the probate court's order adjudicating the
ricelandstotheparishpriestofVictoriahadnomorelegtostandon(p.84,Appellant'sbrief).
Ofcourse,Mrs.Gamalinda'saffidavit,whichistantamounttoevidencealiundeastothetestator'sintention
andwhichishearsay,hasnoprobativevalue.Ouropinionthatthesaidbequestreferstothetestator's
nephewwhowaslivingatthetimeofhisdeath,whenhissuccessionwasopenedandthesuccessional
rightstohisestatebecamevested,restsonajudiciousandunbiasedreadingofthetermsofthewill.
Had the testator intended that the "cualquier pariente mio varon mas cercano que estudie la camera
eclesiatica"wouldincludeindefinitelyanyoneofhisnearestmalerelativesbornafterhisdeath,hecould
havesospecifiedinhiswill Hemusthaveknownthat suchabroadprovisionwouldsuspendforan
unlimitedperiodoftimetheefficaciousnessofhisbequest.
Whatthendidthetestatormeanby"elintervalodetiempoquenohayalegatarioacondicionado"?The
reasonableviewisthathewasreferringtoasituationwherebyhisnephewlivingatthetimeofhisdeath,
whowouldliketobecomeapriest,wasstillingradeschoolorinhighschoolorwasnotyetinthe
seminary.Inthatcase,theparishpriest ofVictoriawouldadministerthericelandsbeforethenephew
enteredtheseminary.Butthemomentthetestator'snephewenteredtheseminary,thenhewouldbeentitled
toenjoyandadministerthericelandsandreceivethefruitsthereof.Inthatevent,thetrusteeshipwouldbe
terminated.
FollowingthatinterpretationofthewilltheinquirywouldbewhetheratthetimeFatherRigordiedin1935
hehadanephewwhowasstudyingforthepriesthoodorwhohadmanifestedhisdesiretofollowthe
ecclesiasticalcareer.Thatqueryiscategoricallyansweredinparagraph4ofappellantpriest'spetitionsof

February19,1954andJanuary31,1957.Heunequivocallyallegedthereinthat"notmalerelativeofthe
late(Father)PascualRigorhaseverstudiedforthepriesthood"(pp.25and35,RecordonAppeal).
Inasmuchasthetestatorwasnotsurvivedbyanynephewwhobecameapriest,theunavoidableconclusion
isthatthebequestinquestionwasineffectualorinoperative.Therefore,theadministrationofthericelands
bytheparishpriestofVictoria,asenvisagedinthewiltwaslikewiseinoperative.
Theappellantincontendingthatapubliccharitabletrustwasconstitutedbythetestatorinisfavorassumes
thathewasatrusteeorasubstitutedeviseeThatcontentionisuntenable.Areadingofthetestamentary
provisionsregardingthedisputedbequestnotsupporttheviewthattheparishpriestofVictoriawasa
trusteeorasubstitutedeviseeintheeventthatthetestatorwasnotsurvivedbyanephewwhobecamea
priest.
ItshouldbeunderstoodthattheparishpriestofVictoriacouldbecomeatrusteeonlywhenthetestator's
nephewlivingatthetimeofhisdeath,whodesiredtobecomeapriest,hadnotyetenteredtheseminaryor,
havingbeenordainedapriest,hewasexcommunicated.Thosetwocontingenciesdidnotarise,andcould
not have arisen in this case because no nephew of the testator manifested any intention to enter the
seminaryoreverbecameapriest.
TheCourtofAppealscorrectlyruledthatthiscaseiscoveredbyarticle888oftheoldCivilCode,now
article956,whichprovidesthatif"thebequestforanyreasonshouldbeinoperative,itshallbemergedinto
theestate,exceptincasesofsubstitutionandthoseinwhichtherightofaccretionexists"("ellegado...por
qualquiercausa,notengaefectoserefundiraenlamasadelaherencia,fueradeloscasosdesustituciony
derechodeacrecer").
Thiscaseisalsocoveredbyarticle912(2)oftheoldCivilCode,nowarticle960(2),whichprovidesthat
legalsuccessiontakesplacewhenthewill"doesnotdisposeofallthatbelongstothetestator."Therebeing
nosubstitutionnoraccretionastothesaidricelandsthesameshouldbedistributedamongthetestator's
legalheirs.Theeffectisasifthetestatorhadmadenodispositionastothesaidricelands.
TheCivilCoderecognizesthatapersonmaydiepartlytestateandpartlyintestate,orthattheremaybe
mixedsuccession.Theoldruleastotheindivisibilityofthetestator'swinisnolongervalid.Thus,ifa
conditionallegacydoesnottakeeffect,therewillbeintestatesuccessionastothepropertyrecoveredbythe
saidlegacy(MacrohonOngHamvs.Saavedra,51Phil.267).

EstateofRussell
EstateofTHELMAL.RUSSELL,Deceased.GEORGIANANRUSSELLHEMBREE,Plaintiffand
Appellant,v.CHESTERH.QUINN,DefendantandRespondent.
COUNSEL
Higgs,Jennings,Fletcher&Mack,VincentE.Whelan,GeraldJ.O'Neill,JoelC.EstesandDonaldR.
LincolnforPlaintiffandAppellant.
McInnis,Focht&FitzgeraldandJamesL.FochtforDefendantandRespondent.

GeorgiaNanRussellHembreeappealsfromajudgment(Prob.Code,1240fn.1)enteredinproceedings
forthedeterminationofheirship(10801082)decreeinginteraliathatunderthetermsofthewillof
ThelmaL.Russell,deceased,alloftheresidueofherestateshouldbedistributedtoChesterH.Quinn.
ThelmaL.RusselldiedtestateonSeptember8,1965,leavingavalidlyexecutedholographicwillwritten
onasmallcard.Thefrontofthecardreads:[69Cal.2d203]
"Turnthecard
March181957
Ileaveeverything
IownReal&
PersonaltoChester
H.Quinn&RoxyRussell
ThelmaL.Russell"
THEREVERSESIDEREADS:
My($10.)Tendollargold
Piece&diamondsIleave
toGeorgiaNanRussell.
Alverata,Geogia[sic]."
ChesterH.Quinnwasaclosefriendandcompanionoftestatrix,whoforover25yearspriortoherdeath
hadresidedinoneofthelivingunitsonherpropertyandhadstoodinarelationofpersonaltrustand
confidencetowardher.RoxyRussellwastestatrix'petdogwhichwasaliveonthedateoftheexecutionof
testatrix'willbutpredeceasedher.fn.2plaintiffistestatrix'nieceandheronlyheiratlaw.
Inherpetitionfordeterminationofheirshipplaintiffalleges,interalia,that"RoxyRussellisanAiredale
dog";fn.3thatsection27enumeratesthoseentitledtotakebywill;that"Dogsarenotincludedamong
thoselistedin...Section27.NotevenAiredaledogs";thatthegiftofonehalfoftheresidueoftestatrix'
estatetoRoxyRussellisinvalidandvoid;andthatplaintiffwasentitledtosuchonehalfastestatrix'sole
heiratlaw.
Atthehearingonthepetition,plaintiffintroducedwithoutobjectionextrinsicevidenceestablishingthat
RoxyRussellwastestatrix'AiredaledogwhichdiedonJune9,1958.Tothisendplaintiff,inadditiontoan
independentwitness,calleddefendantpursuanttoformerCodeofCivilProcedure[69Cal.2d204]section
2055(nowEvid.Code,776).Uponredirectexamination,counselforQuinnthensoughttointroduce
evidenceofthelatter'srelationshipwithtestatrix"intheeventthatyourHonorfeelsthatthereisany
necessityforfurtherascertainmentoftheintentaboveandbeyondthedocument."plaintiff'sobjectionson
thegroundthatitwasinadmissibleunderthestatuteofwillsandtheparoleevidencerule"becausethereis
noambiguity"andthatitwasinadmissibleundersection105,wereoverruled.Overplaintiff'sobjection,
counselforQuinnalsointroducedcertaindocumentaryevidenceconsistingoftestatrix'addressbookanda
certainquitclaimdeed"forthepurposeofdemonstratingtheintentiononthepartofthedeceasedthatshe
not die intestate." Of all this extrinsic evidence only the following infinitesimal portion of Quinn's
testimonyrelatestocareofthedog:"Q.[CounselforQuinn]PriortothefirstRoxy'sdeathdidyouever
discusswithMissRusselltakingcareofRoxyifanythingshouldeverhappentoher?A.Yes."plaintiff
carefullypreservedanobjectionrunningtoalloftheabovelineoftestimonyandattheconclusionofthe
hearingmovedtostrikesuchevidence.Hermotionwasdenied.
Thetrialcourtfound,sofarasisherematerial,thatitwastheintentionofthetestatrix"thatChesterH.
Quinnwastoreceiveherentireestate,exceptingthegoldcoinanddiamondsbequeathedto"plaintiffand
thatQuinn"wastocareforthedog,RoxyRussell,intheeventofTestatrix'sdeath.Thelanguagecontained
intheWillconcerningthedog,RoxyRussell,wasprecatoryinnatureonly,andmerelyindicativeofthe
wish, desire and concern of Testatrix that Chester H. Quinn was to care for the dog, Roxy Russell,

subsequenttoTestatrix'sdeath."fn.4Thecourtconcludedthattestatrix[69Cal.2d205]intendedtoand
didmakeanabsoluteandoutrightgifttoMr.Quinnofalltheresidueofherestate,adding:"Thereoccurred
nolapseastoanyportionoftheresiduarygifttoChesterH.Quinnbyreasonofthelanguagecontainedin
theWillconcerningthedog,RoxyRussell,suchlanguagenothavingtheeffectofbeinganattempted
outrightgiftorgiftintrusttothedog.Theeffectofsuchlanguageismerelytoindicatetheintentionof
TestatrixthatChesterH.Quinnwastotaketheentireresiduaryestateandtousewhateverportionthereof
asmightbenecessarytocareforandmaintainthedog,RoxyRussell."Judgmentwasenteredaccordingly.
Thisappealfollowed.
Plaintiff'spositionbeforeusmaybesummarizedthusly:Thatthegiftofonehalfoftheresidueoftheestate
totestatrix'dogwasclearandunambiguous;thatsuchgiftwasvoidandthepropertysubjectthereofpassed
to plaintiff under the laws of intestate succession; and that the court erred in admitting the extrinsic
evidenceofferedbyQuinnbutthatinanyeventtheuncontradictedevidenceintherecorddidnotcurethe
invalidityofthegift.
Weproceedtosetforththeruleshereapplicablewhichgoverntheinterpretationofwills.
[1a]First,aswehavesaidmanytimes:"Theparamountruleintheconstructionofwills,towhichallother
rulesmustyield,isthatawillistobeconstruedaccordingtotheintentionofthetestatorasexpressed
therein,andthisintentionmustbegiveneffectasfaraspossible."(EstateofWilson(1920)184Cal.63,
6667[193P.581].)fn.5Theruleisimbedded[69Cal.2d206]intheProbateCode.(101.)fn.6Its
objectiveistoascertainwhatthetestatormeantbythelanguageheused.fn.7
[2a]Whenthelanguageofawillisambiguousoruncertainresortmaybehadtoextrinsicevidenceinorder
toascertaintheintentionofthetestator.fn.8Wehavesaidthatextrinsicevidenceisadmissible"toexplain
anyambiguityarisingonthefaceofawill,ortoresolvealatentambiguitywhichdoesnotsoappear."
(EstateofTorregano(1960) 54Cal.2d234, [69Cal.2d207] 246[5Cal.Rptr.137,352P.2d505,88
A.L.R.2d597],citing105.)fn.9[3a]Alatentambiguityisonewhichisnotapparentonthefaceofthe
willbutisdisclosedbysomefactcollateraltoit.(See4PageonWills(BoweParkerRev.)32.7,p.255;
Comment:ExtrinsicEvidenceandtheConstructionofWillsinCalifornia(1962)50Cal.L.Rev.283,284
291.)
Astolatentambiguities,thiscourtintheDonnellancasesaid:"Broadlyspeaking,therearetwoclassesof
willspresentinglatentambiguities,fortheremovalofwhichambiguitiesresorttoextrinsicevidenceis
permissible.Theoneclassiswheretherearetwoormorepersonsorthingsexactlymeasuringuptothe
descriptionandconditionsofthewill,...Theotherclassiswherenopersonorthingexactlyanswersthe
declarations and descriptions of the will, but where two or more persons or things in part though
imperfectlydosoanswer."(EstateofDonnellan(1912)164Cal.14,20[127P.166].)fn.10Extrinsic
evidencealwaysmaybeintroducedinitiallyinordertoshowthatunderthecircumstancesofaparticular
casetheseeminglyclearlanguageofawilldescribingeitherthesubjectofortheobjectofthegiftactually
embodiesalatentambiguityforitisonlybytheintroductionofextrinsicevidencethattheexistenceof
suchanambiguitycanbeshown.Onceshown,suchambiguitymayberesolvedbyextrinsicevidence.
(EstateofDominici(1907)151Cal.181,184[90P.448];Taylorv.McCowen(1908)154Cal.798,802
[99P.351];EstateofDonnellan,supra,164Cal.14,20,2224;cf.EstateofSargavak(1953) 41Cal.2d
314,320[259P.2d897];EstateofCarter(1956)47Cal.2d200,207208[302P.2d301].)
[2b]Apatentambiguityisanuncertaintywhichappearsonthefaceofthewill.(EstateofWomersley
(1912)164Cal.85,87[127P.645];EstateofWillson(1915)171Cal.449,456457[153P.927];Estateof
Salmonski(1951)38Cal.2d [69Cal.2d208] 199,214[238P.2d966];seegenerally4PageonWills,
op.cit.supra,32.7,p.255;Comment:supra,50Cal.L.Rev.283,284291.)"Whenanuncertaintyarises
uponthefaceofawillastothemeaningofanyofitsprovisions,thetestator'sintentistobeascertained
fromthewordsofthewill,butthecircumstancesoftheexecutionthereofmaybetakenintoconsideration,
excludingtheoraldeclarationsofthetestatorastohisintentions."(EstateofSalmonski,supra,38Cal.2d
199,214.)fn.11Thisisbutacorollaryderivedfromanolderformalism.LongbeforeSalmonskiitwas

saidinEstateofWillson,supra,171Cal.449,456:"Theruleiswellestablishedthatwherethemeaningof
thewill,onitsface,takingthewordsintheordinarysense,isentirelyclear,andwherenolatentambiguity
ismadetoappearbyextrinsicevidence,therecanbenoevidenceofextrinsiccircumstancestoshowthat
thetestatrixintendedordesiredtodosomethingnotexpressedinthewill."fn.12However,thisancient
touchstonehasnotnecessarilyuncoveredjudicialmaterialofunquestionedpurity.
Inordertodetermineinitiallywhetherthetermsofanywritteninstrumentareclear,definiteandfreefrom
ambiguity the court must examine the instrument in the light of the [69 Cal. 2d 209] circumstances
surroundingsitsexecutionsoastoascertainwhatthepartiesmeantbythewordsused.Onlythencanitbe
determinedwhethertheseeminglyclearlanguageoftheinstrumentisinfactambiguous."Wordsareused
inanendlessvarietyofcontexts.Theirmeaningisnotsubsequentlyattachedtothembythereaderbutis
formulatedbythewriterandcanonlybefoundbyinterpretationinthelightofallthecircumstancesthat
reveal the sense inwhich the writer used the words. The exclusion of parol evidence regarding such
circumstancesmerelybecausethewordsdonotappearambiguoustothereadercaneasilyleadtothe
attribution to a written instrument of a meaning that was never intended." (Universal Sales Corp. v.
Californiaetc.Mfg.Co.(1942) 20Cal.2d751,776[128P.2d665](Traynor,J.,concurring).)[4]"The
courtmustdeterminethetruemeaningoftheinstrumentinthelightoftheevidenceavailable.Itcanneither
excludeextrinsic evidencerelevant tothat determinationnor invokesuchevidence towritea newor
differentinstrument."(Lauxv.Freed(1960)53Cal.2d512,527[2Cal.Rptr.265,348P.2d873](Traynor,
J., concurring); see also Corbin, The Interpretation of Words and the Parol Evidence Rule(1965) 50
CornellL.Q.161,164:"[W]henajudgerefusestoconsiderrelevantextrinsicevidenceonthegroundthat
themeaningofwrittenwordsistohimplainandclear,hisdecisionisformedbyandwhollybasedupon
thecompletelyextrinsicevidenceofhisownpersonaleducationandexperience";Corbin,op.cit.supra,pp.
189190;Farnsworth,"Meaning"intheLawofContracts(1967)76YaleL.J.939,957965;Holmes,The
TheoryofLegalInterpretation(1899)12Harv.L.Rev.417,420;Rest.,Contracts,230,coms.a,b,235,
cls.(a),(d),coms.a,f,238,cl.(a),com.a,242,com.a;3CorbinonContracts(1960)535,pp.1721,
536,pp.2730etseq.;4PageonWills,op.cit.supra,30.8,p.59,32.1,pp.232233,32.2pp.236
237;9WigmoreonEvidence(3ded.1940)2470etseq.;4WillistononContracts(3ded.1961)610,
pp.499503;610A,pp.517519,629,pp.923925;Witkin,Cal.Evidence(2ded.1966)730,p.675
etseq.)
The foregoing reflects the modern development of rules governing interpretation, for in the words of
Wigmore"ThehistoryofthelawofInterpretationisthehistoryofaprogressfromastiffandsuperstitious
formalismtoaflexiblerationalism."(9Wigmore,op.cit.supra,2461,p.187.)While"stillsurvivingto
us,inmanyCourts,fromtheoldformalism...[is]therulethatyoucannotdisturbaplain [69Cal.2d210]
meaning"(9Wigmore,op.cit.supra,p.191,originalemphasis)neverthelessdecisionsandauthoritieslike
thosecitedabovebespeakthecurrenttendencytoabandonthe"stiffformalismofearlierinterpretation"
andtoshowthemeaningofwordseventhoughnoambiguityappearsonthefaceofthedocument.
Thereisnothingintheserulesofinterpretationwhichconfinestheirapplicationtocontracts.Indeedquite
thecontrary.Therulesarearesponseto"problemswhichrunthroughallthevarietiesofjuralacts,"are
thereforenotnecessarilysolvableseparatelyfordeeds,contractsandwills,arenotpeculiartoanyonekind
ofjuralact,butinvolveageneralprincipleapplicabletoall.(9Wigmore,op.cit.supra,2401,pp.67,
2458,pp.179181,2463,2467.)ThusWigmoresays:"Inthefieldofwills,wherethereisnonebutthe
individualstandardfn.[13]ofmeaningtobeconsidered,thisprincipleisseeninunrestrictedoperation;..."
fn.14(2470,p.228.)
Accordingly,wethinkitisselfevidentthatintheinterpretationofawill,acourtcannotdeterminewhether
thetermsofthewillareclearanddefiniteinthefirstplaceuntilitconsidersthecircumstancesunderwhich
thewillwasmadesothatthejudgemaybeplacedinthepositionofthetestatorwhoselanguageheis
interpreting.(Cf.CodeCiv.Proc.,[69Cal.2d211]1860.)fn.15Failuretoenteruponsuchaninquiryis
failuretorecognizethatthe"ordinarystandardor'plainmeaning,'issimplythemeaningofthepeoplewho
didnotwritethedocument."(9Wigmore,op.cit.supra,2462,p.191.)

Thuswehavedeclaredinaslightlydifferentcontextthatextrinsicevidenceastothecircumstancesunder
whichawritteninstrument wasmadeis" 'admissibletointerpret theinstrument,but not togiveita
meaningtowhichitisnotreasonablysusceptible'(CoastBankv.Minderhout,61Cal.2d311,315[38Cal.
Rptr.505,392P.2d265];...),anditistheinstrumentitselfthatmustbegiveneffect.(Civ.Code,1638,
1639;CodeCiv.Proc.,1856.)"(Parsonsv.BristolDev.Co.(1965)62Cal.2d861,865[44Cal.Rptr.
767, 402 P.2d 839].) fn. 16 "If the evidence offered would not persuade a reasonable man that the
instrumentmeantanythingotherthantheordinarymeaningofitswords,itisuseless."(EstateofRule
(1944)25Cal.2d1,22[152P.2d1003,155A.L.R.1319](Traynor,J.,dissenting),disapprovedonother
grounds,Parsonsv.BristolDev.Co.,supra,62Cal.2d861,866,fn.2.)fn.17[3b]Ontheotherhandan
ambiguity is said to exist when, in the light of the circumstances surrounding the execution of an
instrument,"thewrittenlanguageisfairlysusceptibleoftwoormoreconstructions."(Hulsev.Juillard
FancyFoodsCo.(1964)61Cal.2d571,573[39Cal.Rptr.529,394P.2d65];Nofzigerv.Holman(1964)
61Cal.2d[69Cal.2d212]526,528[39Cal.Rptr.384,393P.2d696];CoastBankv.Minderhout(1964)
61Cal.2d311,315[38Cal.Rptr.505,392P.2d265],citingcases;seePacificGas&E.Co.v.G.W.
ThomasDrayageetc.Co.,ante,p.40.)
Aswehaveexplained,whatishereinvolvedisageneralprincipleofinterpretationofwritteninstruments,
applicabletowillsaswellastodeedsandcontracts.Evenwhentheanswertotheproblemofinterpretation
isdifferentfordifferentkindsofwritteninstruments,"itappearsinallcasesasavariationfromsome
generaldoctrine."(9Wigmore,op.cit.supra,2401,p.7.)Undertheapplicationofthisgeneralprinciple
inthefieldofwills,extrinsicevidenceofthecircumstancesunderwhichawillismade(exceptevidence
expresslyexcludedbystatute)fn.18maybeconsideredbythecourtinascertainingwhatthetestatormeant
bythewordsusedinthewill.Ifinthelightofsuchextrinsicevidence,theprovisionsofthewillare
reasonably susceptible of two or more meanings claimed to have been intended by the testator, "an
uncertaintyarisesuponthefaceofawill"(105)andextrinsicevidencerelevanttoproveanyofsuch
meaningsisadmissible(see106),fn.19subjecttotherestrictionsimposedbystatute(105).[5a]If,on
the other hand, in the light of such extrinsic evidence, the provisions of the will are not reasonably
susceptibleoftwoormoremeanings,thereisnouncertaintyarisinguponthefaceofthewill(105;see
EstateofBeldon(1938)11Cal.2d108,117[77P.2d1052];EstateofPierce(1948)32Cal.2d265,272
[196P.2d1];EstateofCarter,supra,47Cal.2d200,207)andanyprofferedevidenceattemptingtoshow
anintentiondifferentfromthatexpressedbythewordstherein,givingthemtheonlymeaningtowhich
theyarereasonablysusceptible,isinadmissible.Inthelattercasetheprovisionsofthewillaretobe
interpretedaccordingtosuchmeaning.Inshort,weholdthatwhilesection105delineatesthemannerof
ascertainingthetestator's[69Cal.2d213]intention"whenanuncertaintyarisesuponthefaceofawill,"it
cannotalwaysbedeterminedwhetherthewillisambiguousornotuntilthesurroundingcircumstancesare
firstconsidered.
[1b]Finally,beforetakinguptestatrix'will,weaddabriefwordconcerningourproperfunctiononthis
appeal.Thisfunctionmustsubservetheparamountrulethatthe"willistobeconstruedaccordingtothe
intentionofthetestator."(Seefns.5and6,ante,andaccompanyingtext.)[6]AswesaidinParsonsv.
BristolDev.Co.,supra,62Cal.2d861,865,itis"solelyajudicialfunctiontointerpretawritteninstrument
unlesstheinterpretationturnsuponthecredibilityofextrinsicevidence."(Seefn.8,ante.)Accordingly,"an
appellatecourtisnotboundbyaconstructionofadocumentbasedsolelyuponthetermsofthewritten
instrument without the aid of extrinsic evidence, where there is no conflict in the evidence, or a
determinationhasbeenmadeuponincompetentevidence.[Citations.]"(EstateofWunderle(1947)30Cal.
2d274,280[181P.2d874];seeEstateofDonnellan,supra,164Cal.14,19;EstateofPlatt(1942)21Cal.
2d343,352[131P.2d825];Parsonsv.BristolDev.Co.,supra,62Cal.2d861,865.)
WesaidinEstateofBeldon,supra,11Cal.2d108,111112,"'Themakingofawillraisesapresumption
thatthetestatorintendedtodisposeofallhisproperty.Residuaryclausesaregenerallyinsertedforthe
purposeofmakingthatdispositioncomplete,andtheseclausesarealwaystoreceiveabroadandliberal
interpretation,withaviewofpreventingintestacyastoanyportionoftheestateofthetestator,andthis

generalruleisinharmonywiththedeclarationofourcodethattheprovisionsofawillmustbeconstrued,
ifpossible,soastoeffectthatpurpose.'(O'Connorv.Murphy,147Cal.148,153[81P.406].)Butthereis
no room for application of the rule if the testator's language, taken in the light of surrounding
circumstances,willnotreasonablyadmitofmorethanoneconstruction....If[testator]usedlanguage
whichresultsinintestacy,andtherecanbenodoubtaboutthemeaningofthelanguagewhichwasused,
thecourtmustholdthatintestacywasintended."[5b]Therefore,ifhavingascertainedintheinstantcase
thattheprovisionsofthewillarenotreasonablysusceptibleoftwoormoremeanings,weconcludethatthe
onlymeaningtowhichthewordsexpressedbytestatrixarereasonablysusceptibleresultsinintestacy,we
mustgiveeffecttoherwillaccordingly.(EstateofBeldon,supra,[69Cal.2d214]11Cal.2d108,112;
EstateofAkeley(1950)35Cal.2d26,32[215P.2d921,17A.L.R.2d647](Traynor,J.dissenting);Estate
ofBarnes(1965)63Cal.2d580,583584[47Cal.Rptr.480,407P.2d656].)
[7a]Examiningtestatrix'willinthelightoftheforegoingrules,wearriveatthefollowingconclusions:
Extrinsic evidence offered by plaintiff was admitted without objection and indeed would have been
properlyadmittedoverobjectiontoraiseandresolvethelatentambiguityastoRoxyRussellandultimately
toestablishthatRoxyRussellwasadog.Extrinsicevidenceofthesurroundingcircumstancesfn.20was
properlyconsideredinordertoascertainwhattestatrixmeantbythewordsofthewill,includingthewords:
"IleaveeverythingIownReal&PersonaltoChesterH.Quinn&RoxyRussell"orasthosewordscannow
beread"toChesterH.QuinnandmydogRoxyRussell."
However,viewingthewillinthelightofthesurroundingcircumstancesasaredisclosedbytherecord,we
concludethatthewillcannotreasonablybeconstruedasurgedbyQuinnanddeterminedbythetrialcourt
asprovidingthattestatrixintendedtomakeanabsoluteandoutrightgiftoftheentireresidueofherestate
toQuinnwhowas"tousewhateverportionthereofasmightbenecessarytocareforandmaintainthedog."
NowordsofthewillgavetheentireresiduumtoQuinn,muchlessindicatethattheprovisionforthedogis
merelyprecatoryinnature.Suchaninterpretationisnotconsistentwithadispositionwhichbyitslanguage
leavestheresiduuminequalsharestoQuinnandthedog.Adispositioninequalsharestotwobeneficiaries
cannotbeequatedwithadispositionofthewholetooneofthemwhomayuse"whateverportionthereofas
mightbenecessary"onbehalfoftheother.(See104;cf.EstateofKearns(1950)36Cal.2d531,534536
[225P.2d218].)[8]Neithercanthebarelanguageofagiftofonehalfoftheresiduetothedogbeso
expandedastomeanagifttoQuinnintrustforthecareofthedog,therebeingnowordsindicatingan
enforceabledutyuponQuinntodosoorindicatingtowhomthetrustpropertyistogouponterminationof
thetrust."Whilenoparticularformofexpressionisnecessaryforthecreationofatrust,neverthelesssome
expressionofintenttothatendisrequisite."(EstateofDoane,supra,190Cal.412,415;see104;[69Cal.
2d215]EstateofMarti(1901)132Cal.666,669[61P.964,64P.1071];EstateofMcCray(1928)204
Cal.399,402[268P.647];EstateofSargavak,supra,41Cal.2d314,319,citingcases.)
[7b]Accordingly,sinceinthelightoftheextrinsicevidenceintroducedbelow,thetermsofthewillarenot
reasonablysusceptibleofthemeaningclaimedbyQuinntohavebeenintendedbytestatrix,theextrinsic
evidenceofferedtoshowsuchanintentionshouldhavebeenexcludedbythetrialcourt.fn.21Uponan
independentexaminationofthewillweconcludethatthetrialcourt'sinterpretationofthetermsthereof
waserroneous.Interpretingtheprovisionsrelatingtotestatrix'residuaryestateinaccordancewiththeonly
meaningtowhichtheyarereasonablysusceptible,weconcludethattestatrixintendedtomakeadisposition
ofalloftheresidueoftheestatetoQuinnandthedoginequalshares;therefore,astenantsincommon.(
29;EstateofHittell(1903)141Cal.432,434436[75P.53];EstateofMurphy(1909)157Cal.63,6672
[106P.230,137Am.St.Rep.110];EstateofKunkler(1912)163Cal.797,800[127P.43];Noblev.Beach
(1942)21Cal.2d91,94[130P.2d426].)Asadogcannotbethebeneficiaryunderawill(27;see1Page
onWills,op.cit.supra,17.21,p.851)theattemptedgifttoRoxyRussellisvoid.fn.22(27;Estateof
Burnison(1949) 33Cal.2d638,646[204P.2d330],affd. 339U.S.87 [94L.Ed.675,70S.Ct.503];
EstateofDoane,supra,190Cal.412.)
Thereremainsonlythenecessityofdeterminingtheeffectofthevoidgifttothedoguponthedisposition
oftheresiduaryestate.[9]Thatportionofanyresiduaryestatethatisthesubjectofalapsedgifttooneof
theresiduarybeneficiariesremainsundisposedofbythewillandpassestotheheirsatlaw.(92,220;

EstateofHittell,supra,141Cal.[69Cal.2d216]432,437;EstateofKunkler,supra,163Cal.797,800;
EstateofHall(1920)183Cal.61,63[190P.364].)Theruleisequallyapplicablewithrespecttoavoidgift
tooneoftheresiduarybeneficiaries.(220;see96C.J.S.,Wills,1226;53Cal.Jur.2d,Wills,271,p.
531.)[7c]Therefore,notwithstandingtestatrix'expressedintentiontolimittheextentofhergiftbywillto
plaintiff (see Estateof Barnes,supra, 63Cal.2d580,583) onehalf ofthe residuary estate passesto
plaintiffastestatrix'onlyheiratlaw(225).Weconcludethattheresidueoftestatrix'estateshouldbe
distributedinequalsharestoChesterH.QuinnandGeorgiaNanRussellHembree,testatrix'niece.
Thejudgment isreversedandthecauseisremandedwithdirectionstothetrialcourt toset asidethe
findings of fact and conclusions of law; to make and file findings of fact and conclusions of law in
conformitywiththeviewshereinexpressed;andtoenterjudgmentaccordingly.Suchfindingsoffact,
conclusionsoflawandjudgmentshallbeprepared,signed,filedandenteredinthemannerprovidedby
law.plaintiffshallrecovercostsonappeal.
Traynor,C.J.,Peters,J.,Tobriner,J.,Mosk,J.,andBurke,J.,concurred.
McCOMB,J.
Idissent.IwouldaffirmthejudgmentforthereasonsexpressedbyMr.PresidingJusticeBrowninthe
opinion prepared by him for the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division One (Estate of
Russell,4Civ.8740,filedOctober16,1967,certifiedfornonpublication).
FN1.HereafterunlessotherwiseindicatedallsectionreferencesaretotheProbateCode.
FN2.ActuallytherecordindicatestheexistenceoftwoRoxyRussells.TheoriginalRoxywasanAiredale
dogwhichtestatrixownedatthetimeshemadeherwill,butwhich,accordingtoQuinn,diedafterhaving
hadafoxtailremovedfromitsnose,andwhich,accordingtothetestimonyofoneArthurTurner,ownerof
apetcemetery,wasburiedonJune9,1958.Roxywasreplacedwithanotherdog(breednotindicatedinthe
recordbeforeus)which,althoughitansweredtothenameRoxy,was,accordingtotherecord,infact
registeredwiththeAmericanKennelClubas"Russel's[sic]RoyalKickRoxy."
FN3.Inhis"PetitionforProbateofHolographicWillandforLettersofAdministrationwiththeWill
Annexed,"Quinnincludedunderthenames,agesandresidencesofthedeviseesandlegateesoftestatrix(
326,subd.(3))thefollowing:"RoxyRussell,A9yearoldAiredaledog,[residingat]4422PalmAvenue,
LaMesa,Calif."
FN4.Thememorandumdecisionelaboratesonthispoint,statinginpart:"Theobviousconcernofthe
humanwholovesherpetistoseethatitisproperlycaredforbysomeonewhomaybetrustedtohonorthat
concernandthroughresourcesthepersonmaymakeavailableinthewilltocarryoutthisentreaty,desire,
wish,recommendationorprayer.This,inotherwords,isamostlogicalexampleofaprecatoryprovision.It
istheonlylogicalconclusiononecancometowhichwouldnotdoviolencetotheapparentintentofMrs.
Russell."
Thetrialcourtfoundfurther:"TestatrixintendedthatGeorgiaNanRussellHembreewasnottohaveany
otherrealorpersonalpropertybelongingtoTestatrix,otherthanthegoldcoinanddiamonds."Thisfinding
alsowaselaboratedoninthememorandumdecision:"InmakingthewillitisapparentshehadGeorgiaon
hermind.WhilethereisotherevidenceinthecaseaboutThelmaRussell'sframeofmindconcerningher
realpropertyandherniece,whichwasadmittedbytheCourt,overcounsel'svigorousobjection,becauseit
concernedtestatrix'frameofmind,aconditionrelevanttothematerialissueofintent,neverthelessthis
additionalevidencewasnotnecessarytothisCourtinreachingitsconclusion."Theadditionalevidence,
referredtoincludedanaddressbookoftestatrixuponwhichshehadwritten:"Chester,Don'tletAugusta
andGeorgiahaveonepennyofmyplaceifittakesitalltofightitinCourt.Thelma."

ESTATEESTATEOFAMOSG.BELLIS,deceased.
PEOPLE'SBANKandTRUSTCOMPANY,executor.
MARIACRISTINABELLISandMIRIAMPALMABELLIS,oppositorsappellants,
vs.
EDWARDA.BELLIS,ETAL.,heirsappellees.
VicenteR.MacasaetandJoseD.Villenaforoppositorsappellants.
Paredes,Poblador,CruzandNazarenoforheirsappelleesE.A.Bellis,etal.
QuijanoandArroyoforheirsappelleesW.S.Bellis,etal.
J.R.BalonkitaforappelleePeople'sBank&TrustCompany.
Ozaeta,GibbsandOzaetaforappelleeA.B.Allsman.

ThisisadirectappealtoUs,uponaquestionpurelyoflaw,fromanorderoftheCourtofFirstInstanceof
ManiladatedApril30,1964,approvingtheprojectofpartitionfiledbytheexecutorinCivilCaseNo.
37089therein.1wph1.t
Thefactsofthecaseareasfollows:
AmosG.Bellis,borninTexas,was"acitizenoftheStateofTexasandoftheUnitedStates."Byhisfirst
wife,MaryE.Mallen,whomhedivorced,hehadfivelegitimatechildren:EdwardA.Bellis,GeorgeBellis
(whopredeceasedhimininfancy),HenryA.Bellis,AlexanderBellisandAnnaBellisAllsman;byhis
secondwife,VioletKennedy,whosurvivedhim,hehadthreelegitimatechildren:EdwinG.Bellis,Walter
S.BellisandDorothyBellis;andfinally,hehadthreeillegitimatechildren:AmosBellis,Jr.,MariaCristina
BellisandMiriamPalmaBellis.
OnAugust5,1952,AmosG.BellisexecutedawillinthePhilippines,inwhichhedirectedthatafterall
taxes,obligations,andexpensesofadministrationarepaidfor,hisdistributableestateshouldbedivided,in
trust,inthefollowingorderandmanner:(a)$240,000.00tohisfirstwife,MaryE.Mallen;(b)P120,000.00
to his three illegitimate children, Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis, Miriam Palma Bellis, or
P40,000.00eachand(c)aftertheforegoingtwoitemshavebeensatisfied,theremaindershallgotohis
seven surviving children by his first and second wives, namely: Edward A. Bellis, Henry A. Bellis,
AlexanderBellisandAnnaBellisAllsman,EdwinG.Bellis,WalterS.Bellis,andDorothyE.Bellis,in
equalshares.1wph1.t
Subsequently,oronJuly8,1958,AmosG.BellisdiedaresidentofSanAntonio,Texas,U.S.A.Hiswill
wasadmittedtoprobateintheCourtofFirstInstanceofManilaonSeptember15,1958.
ThePeople'sBankandTrustCompany,asexecutorofthewill,paidallthebequeststhereinincludingthe
amountof$240,000.00intheformofsharesofstocktoMaryE.Mallenandtothethree(3)illegitimate
children, Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis, various amounts totalling
P40,000.00eachinsatisfactionoftheirrespectivelegacies,oratotalofP120,000.00,whichitreleased
fromtimetotimeaccordingasthelowercourtapprovedandallowedthevariousmotionsorpetitionsfiled
bythelatterthreerequestingpartialadvancesonaccountoftheirrespectivelegacies.

On January 8, 1964, preparatory to closing its administration, the executor submitted and filed its
"Executor'sFinalAccount,ReportofAdministrationandProjectofPartition"whereinitreported,inter
alia,thesatisfactionofthelegacyofMaryE.Mallenbythedeliverytoherofsharesofstockamountingto
$240,000.00,andthelegaciesofAmosBellis,Jr.,MariaCristinaBellisandMiriamPalmaBellisinthe
amountofP40,000.00eachoratotalofP120,000.00.Intheprojectofpartition,theexecutorpursuantto
the"Twelfth"clauseofthetestator'sLastWillandTestamentdividedtheresiduaryestateintoseven
equalportionsforthebenefitofthetestator'ssevenlegitimatechildrenbyhisfirstandsecondmarriages.
OnJanuary17,1964,MariaCristinaBellisandMiriamPalmaBellisfiledtheirrespectiveoppositionsto
theprojectofpartitiononthegroundthattheyweredeprivedoftheirlegitimesasillegitimatechildrenand,
therefore,compulsoryheirsofthedeceased.
AmosBellis,Jr.interposednooppositiondespitenoticetohim,proofofserviceofwhichisevidencedby
theregistryreceiptsubmittedonApril27,1964bytheexecutor.1
Afterthepartiesfiledtheirrespectivememorandaandotherpertinentpleadings,thelowercourt,onApril
30,1964,issuedanorderoverrulingtheoppositionsandapprovingtheexecutor'sfinalaccount,reportand
administrationandprojectofpartition.RelyinguponArt.16oftheCivilCode,itappliedthenationallaw
ofthedecedent,whichinthiscaseisTexaslaw,whichdidnotprovideforlegitimes.
TheirrespectivemotionsforreconsiderationhavingbeendeniedbythelowercourtonJune11,1964,
oppositorsappellantsappealedtothisCourttoraisetheissueofwhichlawmustapplyTexaslawor
Philippinelaw.
Inthisregard,thepartiesdonotsubmitthecaseon,norevendiscuss,thedoctrineofrenvoi,appliedbythis
CourtinAznarv.ChristensenGarcia,L16749,January31,1963.Saiddoctrineisusuallypertinentwhere
thedecedentisanationalofonecountry,andadomicileofanother.Inthepresentcase,itisnotdisputed
thatthedecedentwasbothanationalofTexasandadomicilethereofatthetimeofhisdeath.2Sothateven
assumingTexashasaconflictoflawruleprovidingthatthedomiciliarysystem(lawofthedomicile)
shouldgovern,thesamewouldnotresultinareferenceback(renvoi)toPhilippinelaw,butwouldstill
refertoTexaslaw.Nonetheless,ifTexashasaconflictsruleadoptingthesitustheory(lexreisitae)calling
fortheapplicationofthelawoftheplacewherethepropertiesaresituated,renvoiwouldarise,sincethe
propertieshereinvolvedarefoundinthePhilippines.Intheabsence,however,ofproofastotheconflictof
lawruleofTexas,itshouldnotbepresumeddifferentfromours.3Appellants'positionisthereforenot
restedonthedoctrineofrenvoi.Asstated,theyneverinvokednorevenmentioneditintheirarguments.
Rather,theyarguethattheircasefallsunderthecircumstancesmentionedinthethirdparagraphofArticle
17inrelationtoArticle16oftheCivilCode.
Article16,par.2,andArt.1039oftheCivilCode,renderapplicablethenationallawofthedecedent,in
intestateortestamentarysuccessions,withregardtofouritems:(a)theorderofsuccession;(b)theamount
ofsuccessionalrights;(e)theintrinsicvalidityoftheprovisionsofthewill;and(d)thecapacitytosucceed.
Theyprovidethat
ART.16.Realpropertyaswellaspersonalpropertyissubjecttothelawofthecountrywhereitissituated.
However,intestateandtestamentarysuccessions,bothwithrespecttotheorderofsuccessionandtothe
amountofsuccessionalrightsandtotheintrinsicvalidityoftestamentaryprovisions,shallberegulatedby
thenationallawofthepersonwhosesuccessionisunderconsideration,whatevermayhethenatureofthe
propertyandregardlessofthecountrywhereinsaidpropertymaybefound.
ART.1039.Capacitytosucceedisgovernedbythelawofthenationofthedecedent.

AppellantswouldhowevercounterthatArt.17,paragraphthree,oftheCivilCode,statingthat
Prohibitivelawsconcerningpersons,theiractsorproperty,andthosewhichhavefortheirobjectpublic
order,publicpolicyandgoodcustomsshallnotberenderedineffectivebylawsorjudgmentspromulgated,
orbydeterminationsorconventionsagreeduponinaforeigncountry.
prevailsastheexceptiontoArt.16,par.2oftheCivilCodeaforequoted.Thisisnotcorrect.Precisely,
Congressdeletedthephrase,"notwithstandingtheprovisionsofthisandthenextprecedingarticle"when
theyincorporatedArt.11oftheoldCivilCodeasArt.17ofthenewCivilCode,whilereproducingwithout
substantialchangethesecondparagraphofArt.10oftheoldCivilCodeasArt.16inthenew.Itmusthave
beentheirpurposetomakethesecondparagraphofArt.16aspecificprovisioninitselfwhichmustbe
appliedintestateandintestatesuccession.Asfurtherindicationofthislegislativeintent,Congressaddeda
newprovision,underArt.1039,whichdecreesthatcapacitytosucceedistobegovernedbythenational
lawofthedecedent.
ItisthereforeevidentthatwhateverpublicpolicyorgoodcustomsmaybeinvolvedinourSystemof
legitimes,Congresshasnotintendedtoextendthesametothesuccessionofforeignnationals.Forithas
specificallychosentoleave,interalia,theamountofsuccessionalrights,tothedecedent'snationallaw.
Specificprovisionsmustprevailovergeneralones.
AppellantswouldalsopointoutthatthedecedentexecutedtwowillsonetogovernhisTexasestateand
theotherhisPhilippineestatearguingfromthisthatheintendedPhilippinelawtogovernhisPhilippine
estate.Assumingthatsuchwasthedecedent'sintentioninexecutingaseparatePhilippinewill,itwouldnot
alterthelaw,forasthisCourtruledinMicianov.Brimo,50Phil.867,870,aprovisioninaforeigner'swill
totheeffectthathispropertiesshallbedistributedinaccordancewithPhilippinelawandnotwithhis
nationallaw,isillegalandvoid,forhisnationallawcannotbeignoredinregardtothosemattersthat
Article10nowArticle16oftheCivilCodestatessaidnationallawshouldgovern.
Thepartiesadmitthatthedecedent,AmosG.Bellis,wasacitizenoftheStateofTexas,U.S.A.,andthat
underthelawsofTexas,therearenoforcedheirsorlegitimes.Accordingly,sincetheintrinsicvalidityof
theprovisionofthewillandtheamountofsuccessionalrightsaretobedeterminedunderTexaslaw,the
PhilippinelawonlegitimescannotbeappliedtothetestacyofAmosG.Bellis.
Wherefore,theorderoftheprobatecourtisherebyaffirmedintoto,withcostsagainstappellants.So
ordered.

ULIANABAGTAS,plaintiffsappellee,
vs.
ISIDROPAGUIO,ETAL.,defendantsappellants.
SalasandKalawforappellants.
JoseSantiagoforappellee.
ThisisanappealfromanorderoftheCourtofFirstInstanceoftheProvinceofBataan,admittingto
probateadocumentwhichwasofferedasthelastwillandtestamentofPioquintoPaguioyPizarro.The
willpurportstohavebeenexecutedinthepuebloofPilar,ProvinceofBataan,onthe19thdayofApril,
1908.Thetestatordiedonthe28thofSeptember,1909,ayearandfivemonthsfollowingthedateofthe
executionofthewill.Thewillwaspropoundedbytheexecutrix,JulianaBagtas,widowofthedecedent,
andtheopponentsareasonandseveralgrandchildrenbyaformermarriage,thelatterbeingthechildrenof
adeceaseddaughter.

Thebasisoftheoppositiontotheprobationofthewillisthatthesamewasnotexecutedaccordingtothe
formalitiesandrequirementsofthelawtouchingwills,andfurtherthatthetestatorwasnotinthefullof
enjoymentanduseofhismentalfacultiesandwaswithoutthementalcapacitynecessarytoexecuteavalid
will.
Therecordshowsthatthetestator,PioquintoPaguio,forsomefourteenoffifteenyearspriortothetimeof
hisdeathsufferedfromaparalysisoftheleftsideofhisbody;thatafewyearspriortohisdeathhishearing
becameimpairedandthathelostthepowerofspeech.Owingtotheparalysisofcertainmuscleshishead
felltooneside,andsalivaranfromhismouth.Heretainedtheuseofhisrighthand,however,andwasable
towritefairlywell.Throughthemediumofsignshewasabletoindicatehiswishestohiswifeandtoother
membersofhisfamily.
Atthetimeoftheexecutionofthewilltherewerepresentthefourtestamentarywitnesses,AgustinPaguio,
AnacletoPaguio,and PedroPaguio,andattorney,SeorMarco,and oneFlorentinoRamos.Anacleto
Paguioandtheattorneyhavesincedied,andconsequentlytheirtestimonywasnotavailableuponthetrial
ofthecaseinthelowercourt.TheotherthreetestamentarywitnessesandthewitnessFlorentinoRamos
testifiedastothemannerinwhichthewillwasexecuted.Accordingtotheuncontrovertedtestimonyof
thesewitnessesthewillwasexecutedinthefollowingmanner:
PioquintoPaguio,thetestator,wroteoutonpiecesofpapernotesanditemsrelatingtothedispositionofhis
property,andthesenoteswereinturndeliveredtoSeorMarco,whotranscribedthemandputthemin
form.Thewitnessestestifythatthepiecesofpaperuponwhichthenoteswerewrittenaredeliveredto
attorneybythetestator;thattheattorneyreadthemtothetestatoraskingiftheywerehistestamentary
dispositions;thatthetestatorassentedeachtimewithanaffirmativemovementofhishead;thatafterthe
willasawholehadbeenthuswrittenbytheattorney,itwasreadinaloudvoiceinthepresenceofthe
testatorandthewitnesses;thatSeorMarcogavethedocumenttothetestator;thatthelatter,afterlooking
overit,signeditinthepresenceofthefoursubscribingwitnesses;andthattheyinturnsigneditinthe
presenceofthetestatorandeachother.
Thesearethefactsofrecordwithreferencetotheexecutionofthewillandweareinperfectaccordwith
the judgment of the lower court that the formalities of the Code of Civil Procedure have been fully
compliedwith.
Thisbringsusnowtoaconsiderationofappellants'secondassignmentoferror,viz,thetestator'salleged
mental incapacityatthetimeoftheexecutionofthewill.Uponthispointconsiderableevidencewas
adducedatthetrial.Oneoftheattestingwitnessestestifiedthatatthetimeoftheexecutionofthewillthe
testatorwasinhisrightmind,andthatalthoughhewasseriouslyill,heindicatedbymovementsofhishead
what his wishes were. Another of the attesting witnesses stated that he was not able to say whether
decedenthadthefulluseofhismentalfacultiesornot,becausehehadbeenillforsomeyears,andthathe
(thewitnesses)wasnotaphysician.Theothersubscribingwitness,PedroPaguio,testifiedinthelower
courtasawitnessfortheopponents.Hewasunabletostatewhetherornotthewillwasthewishofthe
testator.Theonlyreasonshegaveforhisstatementweretheinfirmityandadvancedageofthetestatorand
thefactthathewasunabletospeak.Thewitnessstatedthatthetestatorsignedthewill,andheverifiedhis
ownsignatureasasubscribingwitness.
FlorentinoRamos,althoughnotanattestingwitness,statedthathewaspresentwhenthewillwasexecuted
andhistestimonywascumulativeincorroborationofthemannerinwhichthewillwasexecutedandasto
thefactthatthetestatorsignedthewill.Thiswitnessalsostatedthathehadfrequentlytransactedmattersof
businessforthedecedentandhadwrittenlettersandmadeinventoriesofhispropertyathisrequest,and
thatimmediatelybeforeandaftertheexecutionofthewillhehadperformedofficesofhischaracter.He
statedthatthedecedentwasabletocommunicatehisthoughtsbywriting.Thetestimonyofthiswitness
clearlyindicatesthepresenceofmentalcapacityonthepartofthetestator.Amongotherwitnessesforthe
opponentsweretwophysician,DoctorBasaandDoctorViado.DoctorBasatestifiedthathehadattended

thetestatorsomefourorfiveyearspriortohisdeathandthatthelatterhadsufferedfromacerebral
congestionfromwhichtheparalysisresulted.ThefollowingquestionwaspropoundedtoDoctorBasa:
Q.Referringtomentalconditioninwhichyoufoundhimthelasttimeyouattendedhim,doyouthink
hewasinhisrightmind?
A.Icannotsayexactlywhetherhewasinhisrightmind,butInotedsomementaldisorder,because
whenIspoketohimhedidnotanswerme.
DoctorBasatestifiedatmorelength,butthesubstanceofhistestimonyisthatthetestatorhadsuffereda
paralysisandthathehadnoticedsomementaldisorder.Hedoesnotsaythatthetestatorwasnotinhisright
mindatthetimeoftheexecutionofthewill,nordoeshegiveitathisopinionthathewaswithoutthe
necessarymentalcapacitytomakeavalidwill.Hedidnotstateinwhatwaythismentaldisorderhad
manifesteditselfotherthanthathehadnoticedthatthetestatordidnotreplytohimononeoccasionwhen
hevisitedhim.
Doctor Viado, the other physician, have never seen the testator, but his answer was in reply to a
hypotheticalquestionastowhatbethementalconditionofapersonwhowas79yearsoldandwhohad
sufferedfromamaladysuchasthetestatorwassupposedtohavehadaccordingtothetestimonyofDoctor
Basa,whosetestimonyDoctorViadohadheard.Herepliedanddiscussedatsomelengththesymptomsand
consequencesofthedeceasefromwhichthetestatorhadsuffered;hereadinsupportofhisstatementsfrom
aworkbyaGermanPhysician,Dr.HermanEichost.Inanswer,however,toadirectquestion,hestatedthat
hewouldbeunabletocertifytothementalconditionofapersonwhowassufferingfromsuchadisease.
Wedonotthinkthatthetestimonyofthesetwophysiciansinanywaystrengthensthecontentionofthe
appellants.Theirtestimonyonlyconfirmsthefactthatthetestatorhadbeenforanumberofyearspriorto
hisdeathafflictedwithparalysis,inconsequenceofwhichhisphysicianandmentalstrengthwasgreatly
impaired.Neitherofthemattemptedtostatewhatwasthementalconditionofthetestatoratthetimehe
executedthewillinquestion.Therecanbenodoubtthatthetestator'sinfirmitieswereofaveryserious
character,anditisquiteevidentthathismindwasnotasactiveasithadbeenintheearlieryearsofhislife.
However,wecannotincludefromthisthathewantinginthenecessarymentalcapacitytodisposeofhis
propertybywill.
Thecourtshavebeencalleduponfrequentlytonullifywillsexecutedundersuchcircumstances,butthe
weightoftheauthorityisinsupportiftheprinciplethatitisonlywhenthoseseekingtooverthrowthewill
have clearly established the charge of mental incapacity that the courts will intervene to set aside a
testamentarydocumentofthischaracter.InthecaseofBugnaovs.Ubag(14Phil.Rep.,163),thequestion
oftestamentarycapacitywasdiscussedbythiscourt.Thenumerouscitationstheregivenfromthedecisions
oftheUnitedStatescourtsareespeciallyapplicabletothecaseatbarandhaveourapproval.Inthis
jurisdictionthepresumptionoflawisinfavorofthementalcapacityofthetestatorandtheburdenisupon
thecontestantsofthewilltoprovethelackoftestamentarycapacity.(InthematterofthewillofCabigting,
14Phil.Rep.,463;inthematterofthewillofButalid,10Phil.Rep.,27;Hernaezvs.Hernaez,1Phil.Rep.,
689.)
Theruleoflawrelatingtothepresumptionofmentalsoundnessiswellestablished,andthetestatorinthe
caseat barneverhavingbeenadjudgedinsanebyacourtofcompetent jurisdiction,thispresumption
continues,anditisthereforeincumbentupontheopponentstoovercomethislegalpresumptionbyproper
evidence.Thiswethinktheyhavefailedtodo.Therearemanycasesandauthoritieswhichwemightciteto
showthatthecourtshaverepeatedlyheldthatmereweaknessofmindandbody,inducedbyageand
diseasedonotrenderapersonincapableofmakingawill.Thelawdoesnotrequirethatapersonshall
continueinthefullenjoymentanduseofhispristinephysicalandmentalpowersinordertoexecuteavalid
will.Ifsuchwerethelegal standard,fewindeedwouldbethenumberofwillsthatcouldmeet such
exactingrequirements.Theauthorities,bothmedicalandlegal,areuniversalinstatementthatthequestion

ofmentalcapacityisoneofdegree,andthattherearemanygradationsfromthehighestdegreeofmental
soundnesstothelowestconditionsofdiseasedmentalitywhicharedenominatedasinsanityandidiocy.
Therighttodisposeofpropertybytestamentarydispositionisassacredasanyotherrightwhichaperson
mayexerciseandthisrightshouldnotbenullifiedunlessmentalincapacityisestablishedinapositiveand
conclusivemanner.Indiscussingthequestionoftestamentarycapacity,itisstatedinvolume28,70,ofthe
AmericanandEnglishEncyclopediaofLaw,that
Contrarytotheveryprevalentlayimpression,perfectsoundnessofmindisnotessentialtotestamentary
capacity.Atestatormaybeafflictedwithavarietyofmentalweaknesses,disorders,orpeculiaritiesand
stillbecapableinlawofexecutingavalidwill.(Seethenumerouscasestherecitedinsupportofthis
statement.)
TherulerelatingtotestamentarycapacityisstatedinBuswellonInsanity,section365,andquotedwith
approvalinCampbellvs.Campbell(130Ill.,466),asfollows:
Toconstituteasoundanddisposingmind,itisnotnecessarythatthemindshallbewhollyunbroken,
unimpaired,orunshatteredbydiseaseorotherwise,orthatthetestatorshouldbeinthefullpossessionof
hisreasoningfaculties.
Innote,1JarmanonWills,38,theruleisthusstated:
The questionisnot somuch, that wasthedegree ofmemory possessedbythetestator,as,had hea
disposingmemory? Was he able toremember the property hewasabout to bequeath, the manner of
disturbingit,andtheobjectsofhisbounty?Inaword,werehismindandmemorysufficientlysoundto
enablehimtoknowandunderstandthebusinessinwhichhewasengagedatthetimewhenheexecutedhis
will.(Seeauthoritiestherecited.)
InWilsonvs.Mitchell(101Penn.,495),thefollowingfactsappeareduponthetrialofthecase:Thetestator
diedattheageofnearly102years.Inhisearlyyearshewasanintelligentandwellinformedman.About
sevenyearspriortohisdeathhesufferedaparalyticstrokeandfromthattimehismindandmemorywere
mushenfeebled.Hebecameverydullofhearingandinconsequenceoftheshrinkingofhisbrainhewas
affectedwithsenilecataractcausingtotalblindness.Hebecamefilthyandobsceneinhishabits,although
formerlyhewasobservantofthepropertiesoflife.Thecourt,incommentinguponthecase,said:
Neitherage,norsickness,norextremedistress,nordebilityofbodywillaffectthecapacitytomakeawill,
ifsufficientintelligenceremains.Thefailureofmemoryisnotsufficienttocreatetheincapacity,unlessit
betotal,orextendtohisimmediatefamilyorproperty....
xxxxxxxxx
Dougal(thetestator)hadlivedoveronehundredyearsbeforehemadethewill,andhisphysicalandmental
weaknessanddefectivememorywereinstrikingcontrastwiththeirstrengthinthemeridianofhislife.He
was blind; not deaf, but hearing impaired; his mind acted slowly, he was forgetful or recent events,
especiallyofnames,andrepeatedquestionsinconversation;andsometimes,whenarousedforsleepor
slumber,wouldseembewildered.Itisnotsingularthatsomeofthosewhohadknownhimwhenhewas
remarkableforvigorandintelligence,areoftheopinionthathisreasonwassofargonethat hewas
incapableofmakingawill,althoughtheyneverheardhimutteranirrationalexpression.
Intheabovecasethewillwassustained.Inthecaseatbarwemightdrawthesamecontrastaswaspictured
bythecourtinthecasejustquoted.Thestrikingchangeinthephysicalandmentalvigorofthetestator
duringthelastyearsofhislifemayhaveledsomeofthosewhoknewhiminhisearlierdaystoentertain
doubtsastohismentalcapacitytomakeawill,yetwethinkthatthestatementsofthewitnessestothe

execution of the will and statements of the conduct of the testator at that time all indicate that he
unquestionablyhadmentalcapacityandthatheexerciseditonthisoccasion.Atthetimeoftheexecution
of the will it does not appear that his conduct was irrational in any particular. He seems to have
comprehendedclearlywhatthenatureofthebusinesswasinwhichhewasengaged.Theevidenceshow
thatthewritingandexecutionofthewilloccupiedaperiodseveralhoursandthatthetestatorwaspresent
duringallthistime,takinganactivepart inalltheproceedings.Again,thewillinthecaseatbaris
perfectlyreasonableanditsdispositionsarethoseofarationalperson.
Forthereasonsabovestated,theorderprobatingthewillshouldbeandthesameisherebyaffirmed,with
costsofthisinstanceagainsttheappellants.

InreESTATEOFARMIDAL.BONJEAN,Deceased.(ALICESVENDSENetal.,Plaintiffs
Appellees,v.THEHERGETNATIONALBANKOFPEKIN,Ex'roftheWillofArmidaL.Bonjean,
Deceased,etal.,DefendantAppellant.)

Mr.JUSTICESCOTTdeliveredtheopinionofthecourt:
Atthetimeofherdeath,ArmidaL.Bonjeanwasaverytroubledwoman.Sheleftsurvivinghertwosisters,
Alice Svendsen and Ann Puhal, and one brother, Gentile Ghidina, and the nephew of a predeceased
brother,MarkGhidina.ShealsoleftawillexecutedonDecember30,1976,whichhasbeenadmittedto
probateintheCircuitCourtofPeoriaCountyandwhichprovidesthebasisforthisdispute.Thewill
bequeathsthemajorityofherpropertytoMarkGhidina,toNormaCraig,herdeceasedhusband'ssister,and
to Josephine Massa and Ettore Serangeli, Mrs. Craig's children. Her living sisters and brother were
specificallydisinherited.Thesistersandbrotherfiledapetitioninthecircuitcourtbelowwhichallegesthat
Mrs.Bonjeanwassubjecttoinsanedelusionsatthetimeherwillwasexecutedandshewastherefore
lackingtestamentarycapacity.Afterhearingsonthepetitionthecourtbelowconcludedthatthetestatrix
suffered"***insanedelusionswhicharoseoverhermisunderstandingofherfamily'sefforttoassisther
inherownmentalcondition***."Asaconsequence,thatsamecourtvoidedthewill.Thisappealwas
prosecutedseekingourreview.
TheProbateActprovidesthat"[e]verypersonwhohasattainedtheageof18yearsandisofsoundmind
andmemoryhaspowertobequeathbywilltherealandpersonalestatewhichhehasatthetimeofhis
death."(Ill.Rev.Stat.1977,ch.1101/2,par.41.)Interpretingthe"soundmindandmemory"requirement
ofsection41anditspredecessorsections,thecourtshaveheldthat:
Testamentarycapacityrequiressufficientmentalabilitytoknowandrememberwhoarethenaturalobjects
of[one's]bounty,tocomprehendthekindandcharacterof[one's]propertyandtomakedispositionofthe
propertyaccordingtosomeplanformedin[one's]mind.(Quellmalzv.FirstNationalBank(1959),16
Ill.2d546,158N.E.2d591; Morecraft v.Felgenhauer(1931),346Ill.415,178N.E.877.)Deliberate
disinheritance of an heir does not establish inability to know the natural objects of testator's bounty.
(Beyersv.Billingsley(1977),54Ill.App.3d427,43738,369N.E.2d1320,1328.)
Itwasnotarguedbelow,norisitarguedhere,thatthetestatrixfailedtomeetthetestsetforthintheBeyers
case.However,thepetitionerspointtoanarrowobjectiontotestamentarycapacitywhichcanbesustained
wherethetestatrixknowstheobjectsofherbountybutsuffersfrominsanedelusionsregardingthose
objects.
1Thecourtdecisionswhichdiscusstheeffectofinsanedelusionson
[90Ill.App.3d584]
testamentarycapacityareaccuratelysynthesizedinapublishedtreatise:

Aninsanedelusionmayrenderawillinvalidifitcanbeshownthatthewillwasaproductof,orinfluenced
by,thedelusion.Whileitisdifficulttodefine`insanedelusion,'thesupremecourthasheldittobepresent
whereatestator,withoutevidenceofanykind,imaginesorconceivessomethingtoexistwhichdoesnot
existinfact,andwhichnorationalpersonwould,intheabsenceofevidence,believetoexist***.
Theinsanedelusionmustaffectthewillorenterintoitsexecution.Evenifthetestatorhasaninsane
delusiononaparticularsubject,ifthepropertyandobjectsofbountyareknownbythetestator,andthe
propertyisdisposedofaccordingtoaplan,thewillwillnotbesetasideforlackoftestamentarycapacity.
(3Horner,ProbatePracticeandEstates1384,at2930(4thed.1979).)
Aninsanedelusionisanirrationalbelief.Whereatestatrixhassomeactualgroundsforthebeliefwhich
she has, though regarded by others as wholly insufficient, the mere misapprehension of the facts or
unreasonable and extravagant conclusions drawn therefrom do not establish the existence of such a
delusionaswillinvalidateherwill.Snellv.Weldon(1910),243Ill.496,90N.E.1061.
2,3Thelawpresumeseverymantobesaneandofsoundminduntilthecontraryisproved,withthe
burdenrestinguponthepartywhoassertsittoprovelackoftestamentarycapacity.(Slogerv.Sloger
(1962),26Ill.2d366,186N.E.2d288.)Consistentwiththatpresumption,thepetitionersherehadthe
burden of proving that Mrs. Bonjean's disinheritance of her sisters and brother was the result of an
irrationalbelief.Ifthatactofdisinheritance,whethermotivatedbyprejudice,dislike,orevenhatred,canbe
explainedonanyrationalground,thentheburdenofproofnecessarytosetasidethewillhasnotbeenmet.
(Jackmanv.North(1947),398Ill.90,75N.E.2d324.)Testamentarycapacityisnotdeniedevenifthe
testatrixdislikesanddisinheritsherfamilyforbadreasonssolongasthebadreasonshavearational
foundation.InreEstateofStuhlfauth(1980),88Ill.App.3d974,410N.E.2d1063;EstateofCarpenterv.
Bailey(1892),94Cal.406,29P.1101.
Aswenotedattheoutset,ArmidaL.Bonjeanwasatroubledwoman,butwedonotbelievethather
testamentaryrebuffofthepetitioners,hersistersandbrother,defiesrationalexplanation.
TheglimpsesofMrs.Bonjean'slifeasrecountedbytherecordonappealetchaportraitofhumantragedy.
Thetestatrixwasunhappilymarriedfor19yearstoAmericoBonjean,andbothpartieshadfromtimeto
timeseparatedandcontemplateddivorce.Mrs.BonjeansoughttreatmentattheGeorgeA.ZellerZone
Centerfor"involutionalmelancholia"
[90Ill.App.3d585]
duringpartof1969.ReconciledwithherhusbandbyOctober26,1971,thespousesarguedwitheachother
andMrs.Bonjeanlefttheapartmentwithherhusbandthreateningtotakehisownlifeasshefled.Shelater
returnedtodiscoverhehadcarriedouthisthreat.Laterthatsameyearandtwicein1972Mrs.Bonjean
voluntarilyenteredtheZellerCenterafflictedwithsevereguilt,griefanddepression.Sheblamedherself
forherhusband'sdeath.
OnJuly14,1972,thetestatrixwasfoundcomatoseinherSpringfieldapartment.Shehadattemptedsuicide
bytakingdrugsandplacingaplasticbagoverherhead.Thiswasnotthefirstoccasion,norwoulditbethe
last,whenMrs.Bonjeanwouldattempttotakeherownlife.Indeed,justayearlateronJuly17,1973,the
testatrixwasadmittedtoZellerCenterafterherattemptatsuicidebyjumpingofftheMurrayBakerBridge
inPeoria.ShewastreatedfordepressiveneurosisasaninpatientuntilOctober15,1973,whenshewas
releasedtooutpatientstatus.
After her release from inpatient care, Mrs. Bonjean became increasingly antagonistic toward family
members. This antagonism caused the three petitioners to meet and to decide to have the decedent
involuntarilycommitted.ThisattemptatinvoluntarycommitmentcausedMrs.Bonjeantobeexaminedon
January9,1974,byDr.P.J.Perkins,whofoundshehad"nopsychosis,"had"nocombativeness,""was
oriented,"and"wasnotcertifiable."Shewasreleasedforcontinuedoutpatientcounselling,andtothatend
shemetwithDr.IsmailTolekthenextday.Contemporaneously,Dr.Tolekwrotetothecircuitcourtin
whichthecommitmentproceedingwaspending,statingthat:

DuringourcontactswithMrs.Bonjeaninthepastithascometoourattentionthatalongstandingconflict
hasexistedbetweenherandfamilymembers.Mostrecentlyitappearsthoughthattheyhavethreatenedto
use her background of previous hospitalizations in mental facilities to force her commitment to an
institutionatthistime,whichprovokestheclienttotheextentofrelatinghostilityandresentmenttothose
individualsbyphoneandbyletters;andtheyinturnusethisagainstherforinvoluntarycommitmentwith
oursystem.
***Itappearsthatthepetitioner'stendencytoindulgeintheclient'spersonalaffairshasquiteadisturbing
effectontheemotionalwellbeingoftheclient.IfeelthatIshouldbringthistoyourCourt'sattentionfor
anyadditionallegalmattersbeingtakentoavoidfurtherharrassmentofthisclient.
PetitionerstestifiedthattheysoughttoplaceMrs.BonjeaninZellerCenterforherownhealthandsafety,
strictlyaltruisticmotives,butthatthedecedentinterpretedtheiractionsasunkindandunfair.
InMarchof1975thetestatrixwashiredtorunthegiftshopatthe
[90Ill.App.3d586]
GreaterPeoriaAirport.UntilsheterminatedheremploymentforhealthreasonsinNovember1977,the
decedentperformedheremploymentinasatisfactorymanner,acceptingconsiderableresponsibilityand
maintaining an excellent relationship with her coworkers. During this time Mrs. Bonjean spoke
infrequently,ifatall,ofhersistersandbrother,makinglittlecontactwiththem.Thiswasinsharpcontrast
tothewarmandcordialrelationshipamongthesiblingspriorto1973.
Duringthissameperiodoftimethetestatrixwrotetopublicofficialswithletterswhichcarriedtwomain
themes.First,thelettersdefendedtherightofanindividualtotakehisownlifeaslongastheindividualis
not psychotic or a danger to others. Second, the letters expressed the concern that the method for
involuntarycommitmentprovidedforintheMentalHealthCodepermittedfamilymemberstointimidate
oneanotherwiththethreatofcommitment.
OnDecember5,1977,Mrs.Bonjeandiedattheageof64fromingestionofcyanide.
Thepetitionersargue,andwequotefromtheirbrief,thatthetestatrix"couldnotrationallyturnagainsther
sistersandbrotherwhodidnothingtoherbuttrytohelpher."Wedisagreewiththatconclusionandbelieve
thedecisionreachedbelowisinconsistentwiththeuncontradictedevidence.
4Theactofsuicide,orattemptedsuicide,isnot,perse,proofofinsanityorinsanedelusions.(Wilkinson
v.Service(1911),249Ill.146,94N.E.50;InreLingenfelter'sEstate(1952),38Cal.2d571,241P.2d990;
InreRein'sEstate(1946),139N.J.Eq.122,50A.2d380.)Suicidemay,however,bepartofapatternof
behaviorwhicheludesrationalexplanation.(Wilkinsonv.Service.)Theactionsofthetestatrixinthecase
at bardonotdefyrational explanation.Thepetitionersconcedethatalthoughtheiractionstowardthe
decedentwerepromptedbyaltruisticconcerns,thoseactionswerenotalwaysreceivedorinterpretedinthe
same spirit. We believe Mrs. Bonjean's resentment of her family's attempt to force her commitment
provides a rational explanation for their disinheritance. The trial court found that the testatrix
misunderstoodherfamily'sefforttoassistherinherownmentalcondition.Yet,"themeremisapprehension
ofthefacts"doesnotestablishtheexistenceofsuchadelusionaswillinvalidateawill.Snellv.Weldon.
5WefindthatthefactswhichfosteredMrs.Bonjean'shostilitytowardhersistersandbrotherhavea
rational basis. The hostility is not the product of a "perverted imagination." (Snell v. Weldon.) Mrs.
Bonjean'shostilitytowardherfamilycanberationallyexplainedasderivingfromathreattoherpersonal
liberty associated with those same family members. Because this rational explanation appears
uncontradictedintherecord,
[90Ill.App.3d587]
theburdenofproofnecessarytosetasidethewillhasnotbeenmet.Jackmanv.North(1947),398Ill.90,
75N.E.2d324.

6Finally,thenoticeofappealfiledhereindesignatedthewill'sexecutor,HergetNationalBank,asan
appellant.Thelegateesunderthewillwhoweredefendantsbelowwerenotexpresslynamedasappellants
inthenoticebutwereincludedbythedesignation"etal."Thepetitionersarguethatthisdesignationis
insufficient andthat theindividual legateesarenotpartytothisappeal.Whiletheimprecisionofthe
designation"etal."shouldnotbeencouragedasthemethodofenumeratingappellantsinthestatutory
notice,underthesecircumstancesweholdthatsuchaprocedureissufficient.Wenotethatthesignatureof
eachappellant'sattorneyappearsonthenotice(seeIll.Rev.Stat.1979,ch.110A,par.303(c)(3)),asall
appellantsincludingtheexecutorarerepresentedbythesamecounsel.
ThedecisionofthecourtbelowisreversedastoallappellantsandthecauseremandedtotheCircuitCourt
ofPeoriaCountyforproceedingsnotinconsistentwiththeviewsexpressedherein.
Reversedandremanded.
Barnesv.Marshall
AnnotatethisCase
467S.W.2d70(1971)
JuliaAmmaBARNES,Respondent,v.JohnHarrisMARSHALLetal.,Appellants,WardE.Barnes
etal.,Defendants.
*71Joslyn&Joslyn,L.D.Joslyn,Charleston,forrespondent.
Banta&Banta,Charleston,forappellants.
ThisactionwasfiledtocontestawillandtwocodicilsexecutedbyDr.A.H.Marshallashorttimebefore
hisdeathwhichoccurredonJuly29,1968.Theplaintiffisadaughterofthetestator.Thedefendantsarethe
beneficiariesofthealleged*72will.Anumberarerelativesoftestator,butmanyarereligious,charitable,
andfraternalorganizations.Atrialresultedinaverdictthatthepaperwritingswerenotthelastwilland
codicilsofDr.Marshall.Anumberofthedefendantshaveappealed.Wewillhereinafterrefertothe
appellants as defendants. We have appellate jurisdiction because the will devises real estate and also
becauseoftheamountindispute.
Oneofthe"PointsReliedOn"bydefendantsisthattheverdictisagainstthegreaterweightofthecredible
evidence.Sincethiscourtwillnotweightheevidenceinacaseofthisnaturethispoint,strictlyspeaking,
wouldnotpresentanythingforreview.However,inconsideringtheargumentunderthatpointwehave
concluded that defendants actually intended to present the contention that plaintiff did not make a
submissiblecaseandthatthetrialcourterredinnotdirectingaverdictfordefendants,andwewillso
considerthepoint.Thepetitionchargedthattestatorwasnotofsoundmindanddidnothavethemental
capacitytomakeawill.Thetranscriptcontainsmorethan1,100pagesandtherearealargenumberof
exhibits.Wewillstatethefactsasbrieflyaspossibleandwethinktheywillclearlysupportourconclusion
thatthesubmissionisamplysupportedbytheevidence.
Thewill,executedApril 30,1968,madespecificbequestsoftestator'shomeandofficefurnitureand
equipment.Theremainderofthenetestatewasdevisedtotrustees,withannualpaymentstobemadefrom
theincometovariousindividuals,churches,charities,andfraternalorganizations.Plaintiff,herhusband
and two children were to receive $5.00 each per year. The estate was appraised in the inventory at
$525,400.

TheMarshallshadthreechildren:plaintiffwholivedinSt.Louis,MaryTaylorMyerswholivedinDexter,
Missouri,anddiedinMay1965,andAnettaEsterVogelwholivednearChicagoandwhodiedabouta
monthafterherfather'sdeath.
Instatingtheevidenceofferedbyplaintiffwewilldealspecificallywithfivewitnesses:threelaywitnesses
becauseofcontentionsconcerningtheirtestimony,hereinafterdiscussed,andthetwomedicalwitnesses
because of the importance we attribute to their testimony. There were many other witnesses whose
testimonywewillendeavortosummarizeinageneralway.
WardBarnes,husbandofplaintiff,testifiedthathevisitedintheMarshallhomefrequentlyfromthetimeof
hismarriagein1930untilDr.Marshall'sdeath;thatMrs.Marshallwasaverycultured,refined,patient,and
accommodatingwoman;thathespentagreatdealoftimewithtestatorandsoonlearnedthattestatorwould
dominatetheconversationinaccordancewithacertainpattern;thattestatortoldhimthathediscontinued
hismedicalpracticeatthecommandoftheLordsothathemightusehistimeinsavingthenationandthe
world;thattestatorhadtoldhim"thattheLordhadrevealedtohimthesecretsofheaven;thathewasthe
onlymanonearthtowhomtheLordhadrevealedthesesecrets;thathehadtoldhimthatheavenwasa
gloriousplaceandthatwhenhewenttoheavenhewouldhaveabeautifulcrownandawonderfulthrone
sittingnexttoTheeLord.Hesaidthattherewerethreepowersinheaven,theLord,TheeLord,andGod,
andhesaidthatthisthronethathewouldhavewouldbeontherighthandsideofTheeLordinheaven.He
saidthatheavenwasawonderfulplace,TheeLordhadrevealedtohimthatwhateverpleasuresmanhadon
earthhewouldhaveinheaven.Ifitwaswhiskey,ifitwasgambling,ifitwaswomen,thatthesewouldbe
providedhim."HestatedthattestatorhadalsotoldhimthattheLordhadgivenhimaspecialpowerof
callingupontheLordtorightthewrongswhichpeoplehaddonetohim;thatmanytimesherelated
instancesofvariouspeoplewhomhehad"turnedovertotheLord"andtheLordhadmetedoutjusticeat
hisinstancebytakingawaytheperson'swealth,andusuallythatthepersonlosthishealth,hadalong
periodofsuffering,*73andeventuallydied;thatwhentestatorrelatedstoriesaboutthemenhehadturned
overtotheLordhewouldbecomehighlyemotional,wouldpoundonthetablewithhisfists,wouldcall
thesemendirtyprofanenames,hisfacewouldbecomeflushed,andtheveinsinhisneckwouldstandout;
thattestatorhadtoldhimthathe(testator)hadrunforCongressontwooccasionsandhadrunforPresident
oftheUnitedStates(althoughapparentlynevernominatedbyanyparty)ontwoorthreeoccasions;thathe
hadtoldhimthat"ifheweremadePresidentoftheUnitedStateshewouldcancelallpublicdebt,thathe
wouldcallinallgovernmentbondsanddiscontinuetheinterestonalloftheseobligations,andthathe
wouldthenprintmoneyandcontrolthecurrency,andthathewouldkillthedamnbankersandthecrooks
andthethievesthatwererobbingthepeopleinpoliticalofficeandthattheworldwouldthenbeableto
settledownandliveinpeace."Hestatedthatononeoccasiontestatortookhimtohisofficeandshowed
himanumberofyoungwomenwhoweremailingoutmaterialintheinterestofhiscandidacy;thathehad
saiditwascostinghim"thousandsofdollarstomailthismaterialout,buttheLordhadtoldhimtodoit
andhehadnorighttogocountertowhattheLordhadtoldhimtodo."Hefurtherstatedthatinoneofhis
campaignsforPresidenttestatorhadpurchasedanewcarandhadmanybiblicalquotationsandsayingsof
hisownprintedallovertheautomobile;thathehadobservedhim,campaigningfromthiscar,atthecorner
ofGrandandLindellBoulevardinSt.Louis.
WitnessBarnesfurthertestifiedthattestatorhadtoldhimthatMrs.Marshallhadinheritedapieceofland
andthatwhenitwassoldhetookpartofthemoneyandgaveheranotefor$3,500;thatlaterMrs.Marshall
hadpressedhimforpaymentandhadconferredwithMooreHaw,anattorney,andthatbecauseofthat
testatorhadlockedheroutofthehouse;thatMrs.Marshallthenfiledasuitandcausedhimtopayherthe
$3,500;thateventuallytheMarshallswerereconciledandresumedtheirlifetogether;thatatthetimeMrs.
MarshalldiedheandplaintiffwentimmediatelytoCharlestonandattestator'srequestplaintiffmadethe
funeralarrangements;thattestatorwenttohiswife'sbedroomandsearchedtheroomlookingformoney
andcalledhimandplaintiffintohelphim;thathefoundonlyafewdollarsandthenbecameenraged,"his
fistsclenched***hishandswereshaking,hisbodywastrembling;hisfacewasredandhewasyoucould
seehewasinaterribleemotionalstateashestoodthereshakinghisfistsandshouting.Hesaid,`Iknow
shehadmoremoneythanthat.***YourmothermademepayandthatscoundrelMooreHaw,thedirty,

lowdown***mademepaythatthirtyfivehundreddollars,'andhesaid,`Iwantmymoneyback.Iwant
youtogiveittome.'"Witnessfurthertestifiedthatofthe$3,500testatorhadpaidhiswifein1941Mrs.
Marshallhadgivenplaintiff$1,500;thatfromthetimeofhiswife'sdeathuntilhisowndeathtestatorhad
frequentlydemandedthatplaintiffsendhim$3,500andstatedthatifshedidn'thewouldcutheroutofhis
will;thatitwashisopinionthatfromthetimehefirstbecameacquaintedwithhimuntilhisdeathDr.
Marshallwasnotofsoundmind.
FrankEavestestifiedthathehadknowntestatorforabouteightyearsbeforehisdeath;thathewasPlant
SupervisorforCrenshawPackingCompanyandthattestatorwouldcometotheplantaboutonceaweek;
thathehadheardtestatortalkabouthavingtheLordcomedownonpeople,makingthemsuffer,and
havingthemkilled;thathesaidhisfurnacedidn'tworkandhehadtheLordputacurseonitandithad
workedgoodeversince;thathesaidhe"talkeddirectlytoGodandGodtoldhimthings";thatwhenhe
woulddiscusssubjectsofthatkind"hisfacewouldgetrealred,hiseyeswouldbugout,thevesselswould
standoutonhisneck,hewouldslobberandshout,andpoundonanythingavailable"; thathewould
sometimescomeindressedinnothingbuthis*74nightgownandhishouseshoes;thatononeoccasionhe
cametotheplantwithnothingonbutahousecoat;thathewastalkingaboutarashonhisbodyandopened
hishousecoatandexposedhisprivatepartstothefemalesecretaryandotherspresent.Mr.Eaveswasofthe
opinionthattestatorwasofunsoundmindovertheperiodhehadknownhim.
WilliamWesttestifiedthathewasadrugclerkintheMyersDrugStoreinDexter;thathehadknown
testatorfrom1951untilhisdeath;thattestatorcameinthedrugstoreaboutonceamonthduringthat
period;thathehadheardtestatorsaythathetalkeddirectlytotheLordandtheLordtoldhimthethingshe
wastodo;thatoneofthesewasthatheshouldsavetheworldandshouldbeprimeministeroftheUnited
States;thathealsotalkedaboutturningpeopleovertotheLordforpunishmentandwhenhedidsothe
Lordwouldmeteoutthepunishmentandthemenwoulddie,orlosetheirwealthorsomethingofthat
nature; that whenhewouldtalkabout suchthingsheusedloudabusivelanguage,hisfacewouldbe
flushed,andhewouldpoundthetable; thatat thefuneral oftestator'sdaughter,Mrs.Myers,he(the
witness)startedtoassistMrs.Marshall,whowasthenabout80yearsold,outofherchairandDr.Marshall
"slappedmeonthearmandtoldmetokeepmyhandsoffofher";thathewaspresentwhenMrs.Marshall
wastryingtogetoutofthecarandinsodoingexposedaportionofherlegandtestator"bawledheroutfor
it."Witnesswasoftheopinionthattestator,duringthetimehehadknownhim,wasofunsoundmind.
Dr.CharlesRolwingtestifiedthathefirstsawtestatorprofessionallyin1940;thatatthattimetestator
complainedofhearttroublebuthewasunabletofindanyevidenceofsuch;thathewasoftheopinionthat
he was then suffering from manicdepressive psychosis for which there is no cure and that it would
graduallygetworse;thathealsoattendedtestatorfromthefirstpartofMay1968untilhisdeathinJuly;
thatatthattimehewassufferingfromaseriousheartailment;thathewasatthattimestillsufferingfrom
manicdepressivepsychosis;thathewasoftheopinionthatonApril30,May17,andMay24,1968,
testatorwasofunsoundmind.
PlaintiffalsopresentedthetestimonyofDr.PaulHartman,aspecialistinpsychiatryandneurology,who
testifiedinresponsetoahypotheticalquestion.Thisquestionhypothesizedmuchoftheevidencerelatedby
theotherwitnessesforplaintiffandutilizestenpagesofthetranscript.InresponsetheretoDr.Hartman
expressed the opinion that Dr. Marshall was of unsound mind on the dates he executed his will and
codicils;thathewouldclassifyDr.Marshall'smentaldiseaseasmanicdepressivepsychosiswithparanoid
tendencies;thatitwashisopinionthatDr.Marshallwasincapableofgeneralizedlogicalthinking.
In addition to the foregoing evidence plaintiff testified herself and offered more than a dozen other
witnesses,allofwhomrelatedunusualconductandstatementsoftestator.Plaintiffalsoofferedalarge
numberofexhibitsinthenatureoflettersfromtestatorandvariouspublicationscontainingadvertisements
andstatementswrittenbytestator.Therewasevidencethatplaintiffhadbeenadutifuldaughter,hadbeen
solicitousoftestatorandhermother,hadvisitedthemfrequentlyandoftenwouldtakepreparedfoodwhich
sheknewtheyliked.Anumberofthesewitnessestestifiedthattestatorhadtoldthemofvariousmenwho

hadwrongedhimandthathehadturnedthemovertotheLordwhometedoutpunishmentintheformof
financialloss,illness,death,orallthree;thatwhenhewouldtellofthesethingshewouldspeakloud,get
excited,hisfacewouldbecomered,hiseyesbulgeout,andhewouldgestureviolently;thattestatorwas
unreasonablyjealousofhiswifeandoftensaidthatallwomenwhoworeshortskirts,orsmoked,were
immoral.
TherewastestimonythatontheChristmasbeforethedeathofhisdaughter,MaryMyers,theMyersand
Barnesfamiliesate*75ChristmasdinnerwiththeMarshalls,andafterthedinnertestator"jumpedon"
MaryaboutherskirtbeingshortandcontinueddoingsountilMarybecamesoupsetthatsheandher
husbandhadtoleave.
Anumberofwitnessestestifiedconcerningthefactthattestatorwouldgotovariouspublicestablishments
dressedinhisnightgownandbathrobe.Anarticlewrittenbytestatorandpublishedinalocalnewspaper
underdateofJune4,1942,undertheheadingof"DR.MARSHALLSAYS,"containedthefollowing:
"Providencetheysayalwaysraisesupagreatleaderineverycrisis***.Iamthatgreatleader.Iamthat
prophetthatMosesandalltheotherprophetshavespokenabout.IamtheMessiahthatthepeopleofthis
worldhavebeentalkingandprayingaboutandbelievingandhopingthathewouldsoonshowup.Iamthe
inspiredprophet."
Incontendingthatplaintiffdidnotmakeasubmissiblecasedefendantspointtothetestimonyoftheir
witnessestotheeffectthattestatorwasofsoundmindandwascalm,quiet,andcollectedonthedaythe
willwasexecuted.Thedifficultywiththatargumentisthatindeterminingthisquestion"wemustdisregard
theevidenceofferedbydefendantsunlessitaidsplaintiffs'case,acceptplaintiffs'evidenceastrue,andgive
themthebenefitofeveryinferencewhichmaylegitimatelybedrawnfromit."Sturmv.Routh,Mo.Sup.,
373S.W.2d922,923.
It is also contended that most of plaintiff's evidence dealt with testator's "sickness, peculiarities,
eccentricities, miserliness,neglect of person or clothing,forgetfulness, anger, high temper, unusual or
peculiarpoliticalandreligiousviews,jealousy,mistreatmentoffamily,unusualmoralviews,andrepeating
ofstories,whicharenotevidenceoftestamentaryincapacityorofunsoundmind."
Aswehaveindicated,wedonotagreewithdefendants'contentions.Wehavestatedaportionofthe
evidenceanditneednotberepeatedhere.Itissufficienttosaythatwethinktestator'sstatedviewson
government,religion,morals,andfinancesgobeyondtheclassificationofpeculiaritiesandeccentricities
andaresufficientevidencefromwhichajurycouldreasonablyfindhewasofunsoundmind.Whenweadd
the strong medical testimony to that of the lay witnesses there would seem to be no doubt that a
submissiblecasewasmade.
Defendantsalsopointoutthatthereisevidencethatapersonsufferingfrommanicdepressivepsychosis
hasperiodsofnormalcybetweentheabnormalperiodsofelationordepressionandthattestatorwasina
normalperiodatthetimethewillwasexecuted.Thementalconditionoftestatorattheprecisetimethewill
wasexecutedwasaquestionforthejurytodecide.Thejurywasobviouslypersuadedthathewasnotof
soundmindandsincetherewasevidencetosupportthatverdictitisconclusive.
Thedefendantshavebriefedthecontentionthatthetrialcourterredinsustainingobjectionstocertain
questionstheydesiredtoasktheprospectivejurorsonvoirdire.Afterthecourthadsustainedobjectionsto
certainquestionsthedefendantsmadeanoffer,outofthehearingoftheveniremen,toaskthefollowing
seriesofquestions(whichofferthecourtdenied):"OneoftheissuesinthiscasewillbewhetherDr.A.H.
Marshallatthetimeheexecutedthewillinquestionwasofsoundanddisposingmindandmemory.Ifthe
Courtinstructsyouthatthephrase`soundanddisposingmindandmemory'meansthatapersonwasable
whenhesignedhiswilltounderstandtheordinaryaffairsoflife,thevalueandextendofhisproperty,the
persons who were the natural objects of his bounty, and that he was able to intelligently weigh and
appreciatehisnaturalobligationtothem,willyoufollowsuchaninstruction?***Iftheprospectivejuror

answers`no,'thathewouldnotfollowsuchaninstruction,Iwouldaskthatthejurorbeexcused.Ifhis
answeris*76`yes,'thenIwouldliketoaskhimthefollowingquestion:Doyoubelievethatasingleand
unmarriedpersonofsoundanddisposingmindandmemory,asyouwillbeinstructedbytheCourt,should
beabletodisposeofhispropertyinanywaythathewishesorthatheseesfit.***Iftheanswerbythe
prospectivejuroris`no,'Iwouldliketoaskthathebeexcused.Ifhisansweris`yes,'thenIwouldwishto
askhimthefollowingquestion:Doyoustillsay`yes'totheforegoingquestioneventhoughthisperson,
havingthreechildrenandanestateofwelloverahalfamilliondollars,givingoneofhischildrenonlyfive
dollarsperyear?***Iftheansweris`no'Iwouldaskthatthejurorbeexcused.Ifhisansweris`yes,'then
IwouldaskthatIbeprivilegedtoaskthisquestion:Doyoustillsay`yes'tomyprecedingquestioneven
thoughthispersongivesthegreaterpartofhisestatetoreligiousandcharitableinstitutions?***Ifthe
answeris`no'Iwouldaskthatthejurorbeexcused.Ifheshouldanswer`yes,'thenIwouldwishtoaskthe
followingquestion:Doyoustillsay`yes'tomyquestion,eventhoughyoumayfeelandbelievethatthe
termsofthisperson'swillmaybegrosslyunfairtooneofhisdaughtersandtoherchildren?"
Itisfundamentalinourjurysystemthatlitigantsareentitledtounbiasedandunprejudicedjurors.Andin
ordertoobtainsuchtheyshouldbeallowedareasonablelatitudeinexaminingprospectivejurorsonvoir
dire.However,"counselhasnorightonvoirdiretocausetheprospectivejurorstopledgeorspeculateasto
theiractionincertaincontingencieswhichmaylateroccurorariseduringtrial.Statev.Pinkston,supra
[336Mo.614,79S.W.2d1046];Statev.Ramsey,355Mo.720,197S.W.2d949.Thequalifiedand
selectedandinstructedjuror,havingbeenattentivetotheargumentofcounselandtothereasoningofhis
fellows,shouldbefreetoreachaconclusionsatisfactorytohimupontheevidenceintroduced."Statev.
Heickert,Mo.Sup.,217S.W.2d561,562.And,ofnecessity,atrialjudgeisvestedwithabroaddiscretion
incontrollingthevoirdireexaminationandhisrulingsshouldnotbedisturbedunlesstheyclearlyand
manifestlyindicateanabuseofsuchdiscretion.Cleghornv.TerminalRailroadAss'nofSt.Louis,Mo.Sup.,
289S.W.2d13[16].
Thequestionscounselsoughttopropoundinthiscasewereofatypewhichwouldtendtocommitthe
veniremen.However,inanyevent,wecannotseehowtherulingsofthetrialcourtcouldbeconsidered
prejudicialbecausecounselthereafterwaspermitted,withoutobjection,toaskverysimilarquestionsof
variousprospectivejurors,ofwhichthefollowingisanexample:
"Mr.Banta:Mrs.Britt,theCourtwillinstructyouastothelawandtheissuesinthiscase.Willyoufollow
thelaw,theCourt'sinstructions,eventhoughyoumaythinkhisinstructionsarewrong?Mrs.Britt:Yes,sir.
Mr.Banta:YouwillfollowtheCourt'sinstructions,eventhoughtheymightdisagreewithwhatyouthink
thelawshouldbe?Mrs.Britt:Yes,sir,IbelieveIcanfollowthoseinstructions.***
"Mr.Banta:Doyoubelievethataperson,subjecttotheconditionsandrestrictionsaswillbegiventoyou
intheCourt'sinstructions,shouldhavearighttomakeawillastheyseefit?Mr.Burkett:Ifheisofsound
mind,yes,sir.Mr.Banta:Andirrespectiveofhowhedisposesofhisproperty,youthinkthatishisrightto
do that as he sees fit? Mr. Burkett: I think so. Mr. Banta: Even though he doesn't give his children
anything?Mr.Burkett:Yes,sir.***
"Mr.Banta:Doyoubelieve,subjecttotheinstructionsaswillbegiventoyoubytheCourtastothelaw,
thatapersonhastherighttomakeawillastheyseefit?Mr.Sutton:Yes,sir.Mr.Banta:Eventhoughthey
mightgiveoneoftheirchildrenonlyfivedollars,doyoustillbelievethat?Mr.Sutton:Yes,sir.***
*77Mr.Banta:Youwouldn'thaveanyfeelingthatyouwouldhavetofindforhisdaughterbecausehe
didn'tleavehersomethinginthewill?Mr.Reeves:Ifthatishiswish.***"
Underthecircumstanceshereshownwerulethatthetrialcourtdidnotabuseitsdiscretioninrulings
relatingtothevoirdireexaminationandthatnoprejudicialerroroccurredinthatregard.

Plaintiff'sevidencerelatingtothementalconditionoftestatorencompassedtheperiodfrom1940untilhis
death in 1968. The next point briefed by defendants is that the court erred in admitting evidence of
occurrencesyearspriortotheexecutionofthewillbecauseitwastooremotetohaveanyprobativevalue.
Itistrue,asdefendantscontend,that"[e]vidence,nottooremote,ofmentalunsoundnesseitherbeforeor
afterthewill'sexecutionisadmissible,provideditindicatesthatsuchunsoundnessexistedatthetimethe
willwasmade."Rothwellv.Love,Mo.Sup.,241S.W.2d893,895.Therecanbenoquestion,however,but
thatevidenceconcerningtestator'smentalconditionlongpriortotheexecutionofthewillisadmissibleifit
tendstoshowhisconditionatthetimeofsaidexecution.Holtonv.Cochran,208Mo.314,106S.W.1035,
1.c.1069;Bufordv.Gruber,223Mo.231,122S.W.717[4];Clingenpeelv.Citizens'TrustCo.,Mo.Sup.,
240S.W.177.Dr.Rolwingtestifiedthathetreatedtestatorin1940andthathewasofunsoundmindatthat
time;thathewassufferingfrommanicdepressivepsychosis,anincurablementaldiseasewhichwould
graduallygetworse.Thattestimonywascertainlyadmissibleasitwouldhaveadirectbearingontestator's
mentalconditionatthetimethewillwasexecuted.Andinviewofthattestimonyitwasappropriateto
admitotherevidenceconcerningtestator'sstatementsandconducttendingtosupportthesubmissionof
mentalincapacityoccurringduringtheinterveningperiod.Thispointisaccordinglyruledadverselyto
defendants'contention.
ThenextpointbriefedbydefendantsisthatthecourterredinpermittinglaywitnessesWardBarnes,Frank
Eaves,andWilliamL.Westtoexpressanopinionthattestatorwasofunsoundmind.Thisforthereason
that the facts related by those witnesses were not inconsistent with sanity and hence the necessary
foundationwasnotestablished.Theruleregardingthecompetencyoflaywitnessestoexpressanopinion
ontheissueastowhetherapersonisorisnotofsoundmindisthat"alaywitnessisnotcompetentto
testifythat,intheopinionofsuchwitness,apersonisofunsoundmindorinsane,withoutfirstrelatingthe
factsuponwhichsuchopinionisbased;and,whenthefactshavebeenstatedbysuchlaywitness,unless
suchfactsareinconsistentwithsuchperson'ssanity,theopinionofsuchlaywitnessthatthepersonunder
considerationwasinsaneorofunsoundmind,isnotadmissibleinevidenceandmaynotbereceived.***
In this connection it has repeatedly been determined that evidence of sickness, old age, peculiarities,
eccentricitiesindressorodditiesofhabit,forgetfulness,inabilitytorecognizefriends,feeblenessresulting
fromillness,andotherfactsorcircumstancesnotinconsistentwiththeabilitytounderstandtheordinary
affairsoflife,comprehendthenatureandextentofone'spropertyandthenaturalobjectsofhisbounty,and
whicharenotinconsistentwithsanity,cannotbeusedasabasisfortheopiniontestimonyofalaywitness
thatapersonisofunsoundmindorinsane.***`Theruleiswellsettledthat,ordinarily,beforealay
witnesswillbepermittedtogivehisopinionthatapersonisofunsoundmind,hemustfirstdetailthefacts
uponwhichhebasessuchopinion,butifheexpressesanopinionthatsuchpersonisofsoundmind,heis
notrequiredtodetailthefactsuponwhichhefoundshisopinion.Thereasonfortheruleisobvious.An
opinionthatapersonisofunsoundmindisbaseduponabnormalorunnaturalactsandconductofsuch
person,whileanopinionofsoundnessofmindisfoundedupontheabsenceofsuchacts*78andconduct.'"
Leev.Ullery,346Mo.236,140S.W.2d5,1.c.9,10.
Becauseofthispointwehaveheretoforedetailedthetestimonyofthesethreewitnessesinthefactual
statementandsuchneednotberepeatedhere.Wethinkitisobviousthateachwitnessdetailedsufficient
factsuponwhichtobasetheopinionstated.Thosefactswentfarbeyondamereshowingofpeculiarities
andeccentricities.Theywereclearlyinconsistentwiththeconclusionthattestatorwasofsoundmind.The
facts detailed by these witnesses are quite different from those stated by the witnesses in Lewis v.
McCullough,Mo.Sup.,413S.W.2d499,thecaseuponwhichdefendantsrely.
Thedefendantsalsocontendthatthecourterredinrefusingtopermittheirwitness,HarrisD.Rodgers,to
expressanopinionthattestatorwasofsoundmind.ThiswitnessoperatedanabstractbusinessinBenton,
Missouri,whichisabout20milesfromCharleston.However,hehadknowntestatorforabout35yearsand
hadseenandvisitedwithhimonanaverageoffromtwotofourtimesayear.Wehaveconcludedthatwe
neednotdeterminewhetherornotthecourterredinexcludingthistestimony.Thisforthereasonthatitis
"wellsettledthat,ifinaspecificinstancetheevidenceshouldnothavebeenexcluded,theerrorisharmless
ifthesameevidenceisfoundinthetestimonyofthesameorotherwitnesses,givenbeforeorafterthe

objectionwassustained."Steffenv.SouthwesternBellTelephoneCo.,331Mo.574,56S.W.2d47,48.In
thisinstancedefendantsofferedtenlaywitnesseswhowerepermittedtotestifythatintheiropiniontestator
wasofsoundmind.Withsuchanabundanceoftestimonyonthatissueitseemsapparenttousthatthe
exclusionoftheopinionofoneadditionalwitnesscouldnothavebeenprejudicial.Noreversibleerror
appearingthispointisruledadverselytodefendants.
Defendants'finalcontentionisthatthecourterredinrefusingtogivetheirprofferedInstructionNo.P1.
Theysaythattheinstructionsgivenwerenotsufficient toproperlyinstruct thejuryandthat P1was
necessarytoclarifytheissues.Theinstructionsgivensubmittedtheissueastowhethertestatorwasof
soundanddisposingmindandmemoryatthetimehesignedthedocuments.AlsogivenwasInstruction
No.8whichisMAI15.01andwhichdefinesthephrase"soundanddisposingmindandmemory."
InstructionP1readsasfollows:
"TheCourtinstructsthejurythat,indeterminingtheissueofwhetherDr.A.H.Marshallwasofsoundand
disposingmindandmemory,youmaytakeintoconsiderationtheinstrumentitselfandallitsprovisions,in
connectionwithallotherfactsandcircumstancesinevidence.But,underthelawoftheStateofMissouri,
Dr.A.H.Marshallwasnotobligatedtoleaveanypartofhisestatetotheplaintiff,JuliaAmmaBarnes,and
hewasnotobligedtomentionplaintiffinhiswill.Amanwhoisofsoundanddisposingmindandmemory
asdefinedbyInstructionNo.___hastherighttodisposeofhispropertybywillashemaychoose,evento
theentireexclusionofthosewho,butforthewill,wouldbetheheirsofhisestate;andifafterconsidering
alltheevidenceinthecase,includingtheinstrumentitselfandallitsprovisions,youbelievethatDr.A.H.
Marshall was of sound and disposing mind and memory, you will not further consider whether said
dispositionwasappropriateorunappropriate.Thejuryshouldnotsubstituteitsjudgmentforthetestator's
judgment,norshouldtheydeterminethecaseuponthewisdomorthejusticeofthedispositionmadebythe
testatorofhisproperty;whethersuchdispositionisjustorrightisaquestionforthetestator,andfornone
otherthanthetestator."
ItwillbenotedthatP1isclearlyacautionaryinstruction.Andtheruleiswellestablishedthat"[t]he
giving*79ofcautionaryinstructionsislargelywithinthediscretionofthetrialcourtandunlesssuch
discretionisabuseditwillnotbeinterferedwithonappeal."Bucksv.Hamill,358Mo.617,216S.W.2d
423,425.Wealsohavetheviewthattheinstructionissomewhatargumentativeinitsnature.Inthat
connectionthiscourtrecentlysaidthat"MissouriApprovedInstructionswereadoptedsothatquestionsof
factmaybeaccuratelyandconciselysubmittedtoajuryinlieuofthevastamountofsurplusagethat
formerlywasfoundinmanyinstructions."Stemmev.Siedhoff,Mo.Sup.,427S.W.2d461,466.Moreover,
itappearsthatthemannerinwhichP1ispreparedisoutofharmonywiththedirectionthat"instructions
shallbesimple,brief,impartial,freefromargument***."S.Ct.Rule70.01(e),V.A.M.R.Theultimate
issueswereproperlysubmittedtothejuryandwedonotconsideritnecessaryordesirablethatP1should
havebeengiven.Thetrialcourtdidnotabuseitsdiscretioninrefusingtogiveitandhencenoreversible
erroroccurred.
Thejudgmentisaffirmed.