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RODELAS v.

ARANZA
(In Re: Petition to Approve the Will of Ricardo B. Bonilla)
December 7, 1982 | Relova, J. | Wills > Forms > Holographic; General

PETITIONER-APPELLANT: Marcela Rodelas


OPPOSITOR-APPELLEE: Amparo Aranza et al.

SUMMARY: Petitioner Rodelas filed for the probate of decedent Bonilla's holographic will.
Respondent Aranza contested this, namely because the alleged will was only a copy of the
original, and further contended that Bonilla did not leave any valid will executed within the
conformities of law. SC ultimately ruled that in the absence of the original of a holographic will, a
photostatic or xerox copy may be admitted because the authenticity of the handwriting in the copy
can be determined anyway by the probate court proceedings.
GENERAL RULE: If the original copy of a holographic will is lost/destroyed and no other copy
exists, it cannot be probated.
EXCEPTION: If a photostatic copy or xerox copy of the holographic will may be allowed because
comparison can be made with the standard writings of the testator.

FACTS:
1. Petitioner Rodelas filed a petition with CFI Rizal for the probate of the holographic will of
decedent Ricardo Bonilla, and the issuance of letters testamentary in her favor.
2. Rodelas' petition for probate was opposed by Respondent Aranza because:
(a) Rodelas is estopped from claiming Bonilla left a will because she failed to produce it
within 20 days from his death, as required by Rule 75 sec. 2 by the Rules of Court);
(b) The alleged copy of the will did NOT contain a disposition of property after death and
it was not intended to take effect after death, therefore, it's not a will
(c) The will ITSELF must be produced, not an alleged copy (which Rodelas was
presenting for probate), otherwise it would have no effect, as ruled by Gam v. Yap
(d) Bonilla did not leave any will, holographic or otherwise, executed and attested as
required by law.
3. CFI ultimately ruled for Aranza, stating that once the original copy of the holographic will is lost,
a copy CANNOT stand in lieu of the original.
CFI cited Gam v. Yap: "in the matter of holographic wills, it is reasonable to suppose,
regards the document itself, as the material proof of authenticity of said wills".
CFI noted that the alleged holographic will was executed on 1/25/62, and Bonilla died on
5/13/76. In the 14 years between the time of execution and the death of Bonilla, the fact
that the original will couldn't be located proves that Bonilla discarded his alleged
holographic will before his death.
4. CA reversed CFI, ruled for Rodelas. Aranza appealed to the SC, hence this case.

ISSUE: Whether a holographic will which was lost can be proved by means of a
photostatic copy? YES.

RULING:
SC grants Rodela's first petition for probate. CFI's decision set aside. Will admitted for probate.

RATIO:
1. CC 811: Probate of holographic wills is the allowance of the will by the court after its due
execution ahs been proved. The probate may be uncontested or not. If uncontested, at least (1)
identifying witness is required. If no witness is available, experts may be resorted to. If contested,
at least (3) identifying witnesses are required.
2. GENERAL RULE: If the holographic will has been lost or destroyed, and no other copy is
available, the will CANNOT be probated because the best and only evidence is the handwriting of
the testator in the said will. It is necessary that there be a comparison between sample
handwritten statements of the testator and the handwritten will. EXCEPTION: A photostatic
copy or xerox copy of the holographic will may be allowed because comparison can be
made with the standard writings of the testator.
3. Footnote 8 of Gam v. Yap: A holographic will may be proven by a photographic/photostatic
copy if the authenticity of the handwriting of the deceased may be exhibited and tested before the
probate court."
SC agrees; evidently, the photostatic or xerox copy of the lost or destroyed holographic
will may be admitted because then the authenticity of the handwriting of the deceased
can be determined by the probate court.