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Case Digest

In Re Summary Settlement of the Estate of Melodia Ferraris


Filomena ABELLANA DE BACAYO, petitioner-appellant, vs.
Gaudencia FERRARIS, et al., oppositors-appellants.
G.R. No. L-19382, August 31, 1965

FACTS:

Melodia Ferraris left properties in Cebu City consisting of 1/3 share in the estate of her aunt
Rosa Ferraris. Ten years have elapsed since the last time she was known to be alive, she was
declared presumptively dead for purposes of opening her succession and distribute her estate
among heirs. Hence, a petition for the summary settlement of her estate was filed. Melodia left no
surviving descendant, ascendant or spouse, but was survived only by collateral relatives: 1) an
aunt and half-sister of decedent’s father; and 2) her nieces and nephews who were children of
Melodia’s only brother of full blood who predeceased her. In the settlement proceeding, Filomena
Abellana de Bacayo, who is the decedent’s half-sister, was excluded as an heir pursuant to a
resolution issued by the lower court. A motion for reconsideration was denied hence this action.

ISSUE:

Who should inherit the intestate estate of a deceased person when he or she is survived only
by collateral relatives, to wit an aunt and the children of a brother who predeceased him? Or will
the aunt concur with the children of the decedent’s brother or will the former be excluded by the
latter.

RULING:

As an aunt of the deceased she is as far distant as the nephews from the decedent (three
degrees) since in the collateral line to which both kinds of relatives belong, degrees are counted by
first ascending to the common ancestor and descending to the heir (Art. 966, Civil Code). Appellant
is likewise right in her contention that nephews and nieces alone do not inherit by right of
representation unless concurring with brothers or sisters of the deceased, as provided expressly
by Art. 975.

Nevertheless, the trial court was correct when it held that, in case of intestacy, nephews and
nieces exclude all other collaterals (aunts and uncles, first cousins, etc.) from the succession. This
is readily apparent from articles 1001, 1004, 1005, and 1009 of the Civil Code.
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Case Digest

Constantino C. ACAIN, petitioner vs.


Hon. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT
G.R. No. 72706, October 27, 1987

FACTS:

Constantino Acain filed on the Regional Trial Court a petition for the probate of the will of his
late Uncle, Nemesio Acain, on the premise that the latter died leaving a will in which the former and
his brothers and sisters were instituted as heirs. After the petition was set for hearing in the lower
court, Virginia Fernandez and Rosa Diongson, a legally adopted daughter and the widow of the
deceased respectively, filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that: (1) Constantino Acain has no
legal capacity to institute the proceedings; (2) he is merely a universal heir; and (3) the widow and
the adopted daughter have been pretirited. Said motion was denied as well as the subsequent
motion for reconsideration. Consequently, Fernandez and Diongson filed with the Supreme Court
a petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction which was subsequently referred
to the Intermediate Appellate Court. IAC granted Fernandez and Diongson’s petition and ordered
the trial court to dismiss the petition for probate of the will. Due to the denial of Acain’s motion for
reconsideration, he then filed a petition for review on certiorari before the Supreme Court.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Virginia Fernandez and Rosa Diongson have been pretirited.

RULING:

Article 854 of the Civil Code:

The preterition or omission of one, some, or all of the compulsory heirs in the direct
line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will or born after the death of
the testator, shall annul the institution of heir; but the devisees and legacies shall
be valid insofar as they are not inofficious.

If the omitted compulsory heirs should die before the testator, the institution shall
be effectual, without prejudice to the right of representation.

Preterition consists in the omission in the testator’s will of the forced heirs or anyone of them
either because they are not mentioned therein, or though mentioned, they are neither instituted as
heirs nor are expressly disinherited. Insofar as the widow is concerned, Article 854 may not apply
as she does not ascend or descend from the testator, although she is a compulsory heir. However,
the same thing cannot be said of the legally adopted daughter. Under Article 39 of P.D. No. 603,
known as the Child and Youth Welfare Code, adoption gives to the adopted person the same rights
and duties as if he were a legitimate child of the adopter and makes the adopted person a legal
heir of the adopter. It cannot be denied that she was totally omitted and preterited in the will and
that both the adopted child and the widow were deprived of at least their legitime. Neither can it be
denied that they were not expressly disinherited. Hence, this is a clear case of preterition of the
legally adopted child.

The universal institution of Acain together with his brothers and sisters to the entire inheritance
of the testator results in totally abrogating the will because the nullification of such institution of
universal heirs without any other testamentary disposition in the will amounts to a declaration that
nothing at all was written.
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Case Digest

Danilo ALUAD, et al., petitioners vs.


Zenaido ALUAD, respondent
G.R. No. 176943, October 17, 2008

FACTS:

Petitioner’s mother, Maria Aluad and respondent Zenaido Aluad were raised by the childless
spouses Matilde and Crispin Aluad. Crispin was the owner of six lots of Pilar Cadastre, Capiz. After
his death, Matilde adjudicated the lots to herself and thereafter, she executed a Deed of Donation
of Real Property Inter Vivos in favor of Maria covering all the six lots. The Deed provided that such

will become effective upon the death of the Donor, but in the event that the Donee
should die before the Donor, the present donation shall be deemed rescinded.
Provided, however, that anytime during the lifetime of the Donor or anyone of them
who should survive, they could use, encumber or even dispose of any or even all
of the parcels of the land.

Matilde sold one of the lots to Zenaido and subsequently, Matilde executed a last will and
testament devising four (4) of the lots to Maria and the remaining lot to Zenaido. Maria died a few
months after Matilde’s death. Thereafter, Maria’s heirs (herein petitioners) filed before the RTC a
complaint for declaration and recovery of ownership and possession of the two lots conveyed and
donated to Zenaido, alleging that no rights have been transmitted to the latter because such lots
have been previously alienated to them to Maria via the Deed of Donation. The lower court decided
in favor of the petitioners however, CA reversed said decision upon appeal of Zenaido which held
that the Deed of Donation was actually a donation mortis causa, not inter vivos and as such it had
to, but did not, comply with the formalities of a will. Due to the denial of the petitioner’s Motion for
Reconsideration, the present Petition for Review has been filed.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not the Deed of Donation is donation inter vivos and whether or not such
deed is valid.
2. If so, whether or not Matilde Aluad has the right to convey the lots in question to
Zenaido Aluad.

RULING:

The Court finds the donation to Maria Aluad (petitioner’s mother) one of mortis causa, it having
the following characteristics:

1. It conveys no title or ownership to the transferee before the death of the transferor, or
what amounts to the same thing, that the transferor should retain the ownership (full or
naked) and control of the property while alive;
2. That before the death of the transferor, the transfer should be revocable, by the
transferor at will, ad nutum, but revocability may be provided for indirectly by means of
a reserved power in the donor to dispose of the properties conveyed; and
3. That the transfer should be void of the transferor should survive the transferee.

The phrase in the earlier-qouted Deed of Donation “to become effective upon the death of the
DONOR” admits of no other interpretation than to mean that Matilde did not intend to transfer the
ownership of the six lots to petitioner’s mother during the former’s lifetime. Further the statement,
“anytime during the lifetime of the DONOR or anyone of them who should survive, they could use,
encumber or even dispose of any or even all the parcels of land herein donated,” means that
Matilde retained ownership of the lots and reserved in her the right to dispose them. For the right
to dispose of a thing without other limitations than those established by law is an attribute of
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Case Digest

ownership. The phrase, “anyone of them who should survive” is out of sync. For the Deed of
Donation clearly stated that it would take effect upon the death of the donor, hence, said phrase
could only have referred to the donor.

The donation being then mortis causa, the formalities of a will should have been observed but
they were not, as it was witnessed by only two, not three or more witnesses following Article 805
of the Civil Code. It is void and transmitted no right to petitioner’s mother. But even assuming
arguendo that the formalities were observed, since it was not probated, no right to the two lots was
transmitted to Maria. Matilde thus validly disposed the lot to Zenaido by her last will and testament,
subject to the qualification that her will must be probated. With respect to the conveyed lot, the
same had been validly sold by Matilde to Zenaido.
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Case Digest

In the Matter of the Probate of the Last Will and Testament of the Deceased
Brigido Alvarado,
Cesar ALVARADO, petitioner vs.
Hon. Ramon GAVIOLA
G.R. No. 74695, September 14, 1993

FACTS:

Brigido Alvarado executed a notarial will entitled, “Huling Habilin” wherein he disinherited an
illegitimate son, Cesar Alvarado, and expressly revoked a previously executed a holographic will
at the time awaiting probate before RTC. As testified to by the three instrumental witnesses, the
notary public and Cesar, the testator did not read the final draft of the will, instead, Atty. Rino, as
the lawyer who drafted the document read the same aloud in the presence of the testator, the three
instrumental witnesses and the notary public. While the testator’s will was admitted to probate, a
codicil was subsequently executed changing some dispositions in the notarial will to generate cash
for the testator’s eye operation because he was then suffering from glaucoma. But the
disinheritance and the revocatory clauses remained and as in the case of the notarial will, the
testator did not personally read the final draft of the codicil. Instead, it was Atty. Rino who read it
alound in his presence and in the presence of the three instrumental witnesses and of the notary
public. Upon the testator’s death, Atty Rino as executor filed a petition for probate of the notarial
will which was in turn opposed by Cesar alleging that the will sought to be probated was not
executed and attested as required by law. Upon failure of Cesar to substantiate his Opposition, a
Probate Order was issued from which an appeal was made to IAC stating that the probate of the
deceased’s last will and codicil should have been denied because the testator was blind within the
meaning of the law at the time his “Huling Habilin” and the codicil thereto was executed;and that
since reading required by Art. 808 was admittedly not complied with. CA concluded that although
Art. 808 was not followed, there was, however, as substantial compliance.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not Brigido Alvarado was blind within the meaning of Article 808 at the time
his “Huling Habilin” and codicil were executed.
2. If so, whether or not the requirement of double-reading in said Article was complied
with such that whether or not, they were validly executed.

RULING:

Art. 808 applies not only to blind testators but also to those who, for one reason or another, are
“incapable of reading their wills. Since the deceased was incapable of reading the final drafts of his
will and codicil on the separate occasions of their execution due to his “poor,” “defective,” or
“blurred” vision, there can be no other course but to conclude that he comes within the scope of
the term “blind’ as used in Art. 808. Unless the contents were read to him, he had no way of
ascertaining whether or not the lawyer who drafted the will and codicil did so conformably with his
instruction. Hence, to consider his will as validly executed and entitled to probate, it is essential to
ascertain whether or not Art. 808 had been complied with.

There is no evidence and Cesar does not allege that the contents of the will and codicil were
not sufficiently made known and communicated to the testator. On the contrary, with respect to the
“Huling Habilin,” the day of the execution was not the first time that the testator had affirmed the
truth and authenticity of the contents of the draft. Moreover, with four persons following the reading
word for word with their own copies, it can be safely concluded that the testator was reasonably
assured that what was read to him were the terms actually appearing on the typewritten documents.
This is especially true considering the fact that the three instrumental witnesses were persons
known to the testator.
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Case Digest

The spirit behind that law was served though the letter was not. Although there should be strict
compliance with the substantial requirements of the law in order to insure authenticity of the will,
the formal imperfection should be brushed aside when they do not affect its purpose and which,
when taken into account may only defeat the testator’s will. Substantial compliance is acceptable
where the purpose of the law has been satisfied, the reason being that the solemnities surrounding
the execution of will are intended to protect the testator from all kinds of fraud and trickery but are
never intended to be so rigid and inflexible as to destroy the testamentary privilege.
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Case Digest

Ruben AUSTRIA et al., petitioners, vs.


Hon. Andres REYES, et al., respondents.
G.R. No. L-23079, February 27, 1970

FACTS:

Basilia Austria filed with the CFI of Rizal a petition for probate ante mortem of her last will and
testament which was opposed by Ruben Austria and others who are nephews and nieces of Basilia.
However, such opposition was dismissed and the probate was allowed after due hearing. The bulk
of the estate was destined under the will to pass on the Perfecto Cruz and others whom had been
assumed and declared by Basilia as her own legally adopted children. Subsequently, upon Basilia’s
death, Perfecto was appointed executor in accordance with the provisions of the former’s will.
Ruben and the other petitioners filed in the same proceedings a petition in intervention for partition
alleging in substance that they are the nearest kin and that the five private respondents (Perfecto
et al.) had not in fact been adopted by the testator in accordance with law, hence they should be
rendered mere strangers and without any right to succeed as heirs. The court then allowed the said
intervention by petitioners which the court delimited to the properties of the deceased which were
not disposed of in the will and disregarded the matter of the genuineness of adoption. Upon denial
of two motions for reconsiderations, the petitioners filed before the Supreme Court a petition for
certiorari praying for the annulment of the lower court’s orders restricting their intervention.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the institution of heirs would retain efficacy in the event there exists proof that
the adoption of the same heirs by the decedent is false.

RULING:

Article 850 provides:

The statement of a false cause for the institution of an heir shall be considered as
not written, unless it appears from the will of the testator would not have made
such institution if he had known the falsity of such cause.

Before the institution of heirs may be annulled under Art. 850, the following requisites must
concur:

1. The cause for the institution heirs must be stated in the will;
2. The cause must be shown to be false; and
3. It must appear from the face of the will that the testator would not have made such
institution if he had known the falsity of the cause.

The article quoted above is a positive injunction to ignore whatever false cause the testator
may have written in his will for the institution of heirs. Such institution may be annulled only when
one is satisfied, after an examination of the will, that the testator clearly would not have made the
institution of he had known the cause for it to be false. The words used in her will to describe the
class of heirs instituted and the abstract object of the inheritance offer no absolute indication that
the decedent would have willed her estate other than the way she did if she had known that she
was not bound by law to make allowance for legitimes. Her disposition of the free portion of her
estate which largely favored Cruz, et al. shows a perceptible inclination on her part to give to the
respondents more than what she thought the law enjoined her to give to them. Testacy is favored
and doubts are resolved on its side, especially where the will evinces an intention on the part of the
testator to dispose of practically his whole estate. Moreover, so compelling is the principle that
intestacy should be avoided and the wishes of the testator allowed to prevail, that we could even
vary the language of the will for the purpose of giving it effect.
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Case Digest

In the Matter of the summary settlement of the Estate of the decease Anacleta
Abellana
Lucio BALONAN, petitioner-appellee vs.
Eusebia ABELLANA, et al., oppositors-appellants.
G.R. No. L-15153, August 31, 1960

FACTS:

The last Will and Testament sought to be probated consists in two (2) typewritten pages. The
first page is signed by Juan Bello and on the left margin appears the signatures of the three (3)
instrumental witnesses. On the second page appears the signature of said witnesses, at the bottom
of which appears the signature of the notary public and below said signature is his designation as
notary public. On the left margin of the second page (last page of the will) appears the signature of
Juan Bello under whose name appears handwritten the phrase, “Por la Testadore Anacleta
Abellana” (For the Testate of Anacleta Abellana). The will is duly acknowledged before the notary
public.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the signature of Juan Bello above the typewritten statement, “Por la Testadora
Anacleta Abellana” comply with the requirements of law prescribing the manner in which a will shall
be executed.

RULING:

Article 805 of the Civil Code provides:

Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end there of
by the testator himself or by the testator’s name written by some other person
in his presence, and by his express direction and attested and subscribed by
three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another.

The law requires that the testator himself sign the will, or if he cannot do so, the testator’s name
must be written by some other person in his presence and by his express direction. In this case,
the name of the testatrix, Anacleta Abellana does not appear written under the will by said Abellana
herself, or by Dr. Juan Bello. There is therefore, a failure to comply with the express requirement
in the law that the testator must himself sign the will, or that his name be affixed thereto by some
other person in his presence and by his express direction. Hence, the will of the deceased Anacleta
Abellana must not be admitted to probate.
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Case Digest

Maria Gervacio BLAS, et al., plaintiffs-appellants vs.


Rosalina SANTOS, in her capacity as Special Administratix of the
Estate of the deceased Maxima Santos, et al., defendants-appellants.
G.R. No. L-14070, March 29, 1961

FACTS:

Simeon Blas contracted a first marriage with Marta Cruz and had three children, only one of
whom, Eulalio, left children namely: Maria Gervacio Blas (one of the plaintiffs), Marta Gervacio Blas
(one of the defendants), and Lazaro Gervacio Blas. Lazaro died and is survived by three legitimate
children who are plaintiffs herein namely, Manuel, Leoncio and Loid. Subsequently after Marta’s
death, Simeon contracted a second marriage with Maxima Santos. At the time of second marriage,
no liquidation of the properties of Simeon and Marta was made. A week before Simeon’s death, he
executed a last Will and Testament, and he also ordered a preparation of a document (Exhibit A)
because the properties he had acquired during his first marriage with Mart had not been liquidated
and were not separated from those acquired during the second marriage. Such document contains
promises by Maxima to respect the disposition of said will and to give one-half (1/2) of the properties
she and her husband will leave to the heirs, legatees or beneficiaries named in the will. Pursuant
to this document, the plaintiffs instituted an action against the administration of the estate of Maxima
Santos to secure a judicial declaration that one-half (1/2) of the properties left by Maxima be
adjudicated to them. Upon filing of opposition by the administratix, the trial court dismissed the
complaint. Hence, this appeal.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not the heirs of Simeon Blas and wife Marta Cruz can make any claim for
the unliquidated conjugal properties acquired during their marriage.
2. Whether or not “Exhibit A” is a valid and enforceable contract.

RULING:

The heirs of Simeon Blas and his wife Marta Cruz can no longer make any claim for the
unliquidated conjugal properties acquired during said first marriage because the same were already
included in the mass properties constituting the estate of the deceased Simeon Blas and in the
adjudications made by virtue of his will.

Exhibit A appears to be the compromise defined in Article 1809 of the Civil Code of Spain, in
force at the time of the execution of such document, which provides as follows:

Compromise is a contract by which each of the parties in interest, by giving, promising, or


retaining something avoids the provocation of a suitor terminates one which has already
provocation been instituted.

The agreement or promise that Maxima Santos made in Exhibit A is to hold one-half of her
share in the conjugal assets in trust for the heirs and legatees of her husband in his will, with the
obligation of conveying the same to such of his heirs or legatees as she may choose in her last will
and testament. This kind of agreement pr promise is not void.
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Case Digest

Wencesla CACHO, petitioner-appellee vs.


John G. UDAN and Rustico G. UDAN, oppositors-appellants.
G.R. No. L-19996, April 30, 1965

FACTS:

Silvina Udan, single, died leaving a will naming her son Francisco and one Wencesla Cacho
as her sole heirs, share and share alike. Cacho then filed a petition to probate the said Will which
was opposed by the testator’s legitimate brother, Rustico. Therafter, Francisco filed his opposition
to the probate of the Will while Rustico withdrew his opposition. After Francisco’s death, another
legitimate brother of the testator, John, together with Rustico, filed their respective oppositions.
Consequently, Cacho filed a Motion to Dismiss the Oppositions filed by John and Rustico. CFI
issued an order disallowing the two oppositions for lack of interest in the estate. The subsequent
Motions for Reconsiderations were denied hence, this appeal.

ISSUE:

Whether or not John and Rustico Udan may claim to be heirs intestate of their legitimate sister,
Silvina.

RULING:

It is clear from Article 988 and 1003 of the governing Civil Code of the Philippines, in force at
the time of the death of the testatrix that the oppositor brothers may not claim to be heirs intestate
of their legitimate sister, Silvina.

Art. 988. In the absence of legitimate descendants or ascendants, the illegitimate children
shall succeed to the entire estate of the deceased.

Art. 1003. If there are no descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, or a surviving


spouse, the collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the deceased in
accordance with the following articles.

These legal provisions decree that collateral relatives of one who died intestate inherit only in
the absence of descendants, ascendants, and illegitimate children. Albeit the brothers and sister
can concur with the widow or widower, they do not concur, but are excluded by the surviving
children, legitimate or illegitimate.

Further, the death of Francisco does not improve the situation of appellants. The rights acquired
by the former are only transmitted by his death to his own heirs at law not to the appellants, who
are legitimate brothers of his mother, pursuant to Article 992.

Art. 992. An illegitimate child has no right to inherit ab intestate from the legitimate children
and relatives of his father or mother; nor shall such children or relatives inherit the same
manner from the illegitimate child.

However, the hearing on the probate must still proceed to ascertain the rights of Cacho as
testamentary heir.
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Case Digest

Tedoro CANEDA, et al., petitioners vs.


Hon. COURT OF APPEALS and William CABRERA, as Special Administrator
of the Estate of Mateo Caballero, respondents.
G.R. No. 103554, May 28, 1993

FACTS:

Mateo Caballero, a widower without any children, executed a last will and testament before
three attesting witnesses and he was duly assisted by his lawyer and a notary public. It was declare
therein that, among other things, that the testator was leaving by way of legacies and devises his
real and personal properties to specific persons, all of whom do not appear to be related to Mateo.
Not long after, he himself filed a petition before the CFI seeking the probate of his last will and
testament but the scheduled hearings were postponed, until the testator passed away before his
petition could finally be heard by the probate court. Benoni Cabrera, one of the legatees named in
the will, sought his appointment as special administrator of the testator’s estate but due to his death,
he was succeeded by William Cabreara, who was appointed by RTC which is already the probate
court. In the course of the hearing, herein petitioners claiming to be nephews and nieces of the
testator, appeared as oppositors and objected to the allowance of the testator’s will on the ground
that on the alleged date of its execution, the testator was already in the poor state of health such
that he could not have possibly executed the same; and that the signature of the testator is not
genuine. The probate court rendered a decision that such will is the Last Will and Testament of
Mateo Caballero and that it was executed in accordance with all the requisites of the law. Upon
appeal to CA, the petitioners asserted that the will in question is null and void for the reason that
its attestation clause is fatally defective since it fails to specifically state the instrumental witnesses
to the will witnessed the testator signing the will in their presence and that they also signed the will
and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another. However, CA affirmed
the decision of the trial court ruling and ruling that the attestation clause in the Last Will substantially
complies with Article 805 of the Civil Code. Due to denial of petitioners’ motion for reconsideration,
hence this appeal before the Supreme Court.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not the attestation clause in the last will of Mateo Caballero is fatally
defective such that whether or not it affects the validity of the will.
2. Whether or not the attestation clause complies with the substantial compliance
pursuant to Article 809 of the Civil Code.

RULING:

An attestation clause refers to that part of an ordinary will whereby the attesting witnesses
certify that the instrument has been executed before them and to the manner of the execution of
the same. It is a separate memorandum or record of the facts surrounding the conduct of execution
and once signed by the witnesses, it gives affirmation to the fact that compliance with the essential
formalities required by law has been observed. Under the 3 rd paragraph of Article 805, such a
clause, the complete lack of which would result in the invalidity of the will, should state:

1. The number of pages used upon which the will is written;


2. That the testator signed, or expressly cause another to sign, the will and every page
thereof in the presence of the attesting witnesses; and
3. That the attesting witnesses witnessed the signing by the testator of the will and all its
pages, and that the said witnesses also signed the will and every page thereof in the
presence of the testator and of one another.

It will be noted that Article 805 requires that the witness should both attest and subscribe to the
will in the presence of the testator and of one another. “Attestation” and “subscription” differ in
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Case Digest

meaning. Attestation is the act of sense, while subscription is the act of the hand. The attestation
clause herein assailed is that while it recites that the testator indeed signed the will and all its pages
in the presence of the three attesting witnesses and states as well the number of pages that were
used, the same does not expressly state therein the circumstance that said witnesses subscribed
their respective signatures to the will in the presence of the testator and of each other. What is then
clearly lacking, is the statement that the witnesses signed the will and every page thereof in the
presence of the testator and of one another.

The absence of the statement required by law is a fatal defect or imperfection which must
necessarily result in the disallowance of the will that is here sought to be admitted to probate.
Petitioners are correct in pointing out that the defect in the attestation clause obviously cannot be
characterized as merely involving the form of the will or the language used therein which would
warrant the application of the substantial compliance rule, as contemplated in Article 809 of the
Civil Code:

In the absence of bad faith, forgery, or fraud or undue and improper pressure and influence,
defects and imperfection in the form of attestation or in the language used therein shall not render
the will invalid if it is not proved that the will was in fact executed and attested in substantial
compliance with all the requirements of Article 805.

The defects and imperfection must only be with respect to the form of the attestation or the
language employed therein. Such defects or imperfection would not render a will invalid should it
be proved that the will was really executed and attested in compliance with Article 805. These
considerations do not apply where the attestation clause totally omits the fact that the attesting
witnesses signed each and every page of the will in the presence of the testator and of each other.
In such a situation, the defect is not only in the form or language of the attestation clause but the
total absence of a specific element required by Article 805 to be specifically stated in the attestation
clause of a will. That is precisely the defect complained of in the present case since there is no
plausible way by which it can be read into the questioned attestation clause statement, or an
implication thereof, that the attesting witness did actually bear witness to the signing by the testator
of the will and all of its pages and that said instrumental witnesses also signed the will and every
page thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another.
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Case Digest

Pascual COSO, vs.


Fermina Fernandez DEZA, et al.,
G.R. No.L- 16763,December 22, 1921

FACTS:

The testator, a married man, became acquainted with Rosario Lopez and had illicit relations
with her for many years. They begot an illegitimate son. The testator’s will gives the tercio de libre
disposicion to the illegitimate son and also provides for the payment of nineteen hundred Spanish
duros to Rosario Lopez by way of reimbursement for expenses incurred by her in talking care of
the testator when he is alleged to have suffered from severe illness. The will was set aside on the
ground of undue influence alleged to have been exerted over the mind of the testator by Rosario
Lopez. There is no doubt that Rosario exercised some influence over the testator.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the influence exercised was of such a character to vitiate the will.

RULING:

Mere general or reasonable influence over a testator is not sufficient to invalidate a will; to have
that effect, the influence must be undue. The rule as to what constitutes undue influence has been
variously stated, but the substance of the different statements is that, to be sufficient to avoid a will,
the influence exerted must be of a kind that so overpowers and subjugates the mind of the testator
as to destroy his free agency and make him express the will of another rather than his own.

Such influence must be actually exerted on the mind of the testator in regard to the execution
of the will in question, either at the time of the execution of the will, or so near thereto as to be still
operative, with the object of procuring a will in favor of particular parties, and it must result in the
making of testamentary dispositions which the testator would not otherwise have made.

And while the same amount of influence may become undue when exercise by one occupying
an improper and adulterous relation to testator, the mere fact that some influence is exercised by
a person sustaining that relation does not invalidate a will, unless it is further shown that the
influence destroys the testator’s free agency.

The burden is upon the parties challenging the will to show that undue influence existed at the
time of its execution. While it is shown that the testator entertained strong affections for Rosario
Lopez, it does not appear that her influence so overpowered and subjugated his mind as to destroy
his free agency and make him express the will of another rather than his own. Mere affection, even
if illegitimate, is not undue influence and does not invalidate a will.

Influence gained by kindness and affection will not be regarded as undue, if no imposition or
fraud be practiced, even though it induces the testator to make an unequal and unjust disposition
of his property in favor of those who have contributed to his comfort and ministered to his wants, if
such disposition is voluntarily made.
Wills and Succession 14
Case Digest

Agapita N. CRUZ, petitioner vs.


Hon. Judge Guillermo P. VILLASOR and Manuel LUGAY, respondents.
G.R. No. L-32213, November 26, 1973

FACTS:

Agapita Cruz is the surviving spouse of the deceased Valente Cruz. Agapita filed before the
CFI an opposition for the allowance of the will of his late husband alleging that the will was executed
through fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and undue influence because the said instrument was
executed without the testator having been fully informed of the content thereof, particularly as to
what properties he was disposing and that the supposed last will and testament was not executed
in accordance with law. However, due to unfavorable decision, Agapita appealed by certiorari
before the Supreme Court.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the supposed last will and testament was executed in accordance with law.

RULING:

Of the three instrumental witnesses, one of them is at the same time the Notary Public before
whom the will was supposed to have been acknowledged.

The Supreme Court is inclined to sustain the last will and testament in question was not
executed in accordance with law. The notary public before whom the will was acknowledged cannot
be considered as the third instrumental witness since he cannot acknowledge before himself his
having signed the will. To acknowledge before means to avow. Consequently, if the third witness
were the notary public himself, he would have to avow assent, or admit his having signed the will
in front of himself. This cannot be done because he cannot split his personality into two.

To allow the notary public to act as third witness, or one of the attesting and acknowledging
witnesses, would have the effect of having only two attesting witnesses to the will which would be
in contravention of the provisions of Article 805 requiring at least three credible witnesses to act as
such and of Article 806 which requires that the testator and the required number of witnesses must
appear before the notary public to acknowledge the will. The result would be that only two witnesses
appeared before the notary public for or that purpose. In the circumstance, the law would not be
duly observed.
Wills and Succession 15
Case Digest

Paula DE LA CERNA, et al., petitioners, vs.


Manuela REBACA-POTOT, et al., and the HONORABLE
COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.
G.R. No. L-20234, December 23, 1964

FACTS:

Spouses Bernabe de la Serna and Gervasia Rebaca, executed a joint last will and testament
whereby they willed that their two parcels of land acquired during their marriage together with all
improvements thereon shall be given to Manuela Rebaca, their niece. Bernabe died and the will
was probated in 1939 after due publication as required by law and there being no opposition. Upon
the death of Gervasia Rebaca, another petition for the probate of the same will insofar as Gervasia
was concerned was filed by Manuela but the court dismissed it for failure of Manuela to appear.

Paula de la Cerna questioned for the nullity of the joint will of Bernabe being prohibited in the
Philippine law. The Court of First Instance ordered the petition heard and declared the testament
null and void, for being executed contrary to the prohibition of joint wills in the Civil Code but on
appeal by the testamentary heir, the Court of Appeals reversed, on the ground that the decree of
probate in 1939 was issued by a court of probate jurisdiction and conclusive on the due execution
of the testament. Hence, this appeal.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not an error of law affects the conclusive effect of its decision.
2. Whether or not the joint will is valid as to the share of Gervasia who died later than
Bernabe.

RULING:

The appealed decision correctly held that the final decree of probate, entered in 1939 by the
Court of First Instance of Cebu (when the testator, Bernabe de la Cerna, died), has conclusive
effect as to his last will and testament despite the fact that even then the Civil Code already decreed
the invalidity of joint wills, whether in favor of the joint testators, reciprocally, or in favor of a third
party (Art. 669, old Civil Code). A final judgment rendered on a petition for the probate of a will is
binding upon the whole world.

The probate decree in 1989 could only affect the share of the deceased husband, Bernabe de
la Cerna. It could not include the disposition of the share of the wife, Gervasia Rebaca, who was
then still alive, and over whose interest in the conjugal properties the probate court acquired no
jurisdiction, precisely because her estate could not then be in issue. Be it remembered that prior to
the new Civil Code, a will could not be probated during the testator's lifetime. It follows that the
validity of the joint will, in so far as the estate of the wife was concerned, must be, on her death,
reexamined and adjudicated de novo, since a joint will is considered a separate will of each testator.
Therefore, the undivided interest of Gervasia Rebaca should pass upon her death to her heirs’
intestate, and not exclusively to the testamentary heir, unless some other valid will in her favor is
shown to exist, or unless she be the only heir intestate of said Gervasia.
Wills and Succession 16
Case Digest

Gertrudes De Los SANTOS, plaintiff-appellee, vs.


Maximo De La CRUZ, defendant-appellant.
G.R. No. L-29192, February 22, 1971

FACTS:

Pelagia de la Cruz died intestate and without issue. She had a niece named Marciana who is
the mother of herein defendant, Maximo. Gertrudes, who is Pelagia’s grandniece, and several co-
heirs including Maximo, entered into an Extrajudicial Partition Agreement purposely for the
distribution of Pelagia’s estate. They agreed to adjudicate three (3) lots to Maximo, in addition to
his share, on condition that the latter would undertake the development and subdivision of the
estate which was the subject matter of the agreement. Due to Maximo’s failure to comply with his
obligation, Gertrudes filed a complaint for specific performance. In Maximo’s answer, he stated that
Gertrudes had no cause of action against him because the said agreement was void with respect
to her, for the reason that she was not an heir of Pelagia and was included in the agreement by
mistake. The lower court held that Maximo, being a party to the extrajudicial partition agreement,
was estopped from raising in issue the right of the plaintiff to inherit from Pelagia, hence, he must
abide by the terms of the agreement. Maximo filed a Motion for New Trial but was denied. Hence,
this appeal.

ISSUE:

Whether or not, Gertrudes de los Santos, a grandniece of the decedent, is an heir of the latter.

RULING:

Plaintiff-appellee being a mere grandniece of Pelagia de la Cruz, could not inherit from the
latter by right of representation.

Article 972. The right of representation takes place in the direct descending line,
but never in the ascending.

In the collateral line, it takes place only in favor of the children of brothers or sisters,
whether they be of the full or half blood.

Much less could plaintiff-appelle inherit in her own right.

Article 962. In every inheritance, the relative nearest in degree excludes the more
distant ones, saving the right of representation when it properly takes place.

In the present case, the relatives “nearest in degree” to Pelagia de la Cruz are her nephews
and nieces, one of whom is defendant-appellant. Necessarily, plaintiff-appellee, a grandniece is
excluded by law from the inheritance.
Wills and Succession 17
Case Digest

Francisca Tioco DE PAPA, et al., plaintiffs-appellees, vs.


Dalisay Tongko CAMACHO, et al., defendants-appellants.
G.R. No. L-28032; September 24, 1986

FACTS:

The plaintiffs are the grandaunt and granduncles of the defendant, Dalisay. They have as a
common ancestor the late Balbino Tioco (who had a sister named Romana Tioco), father of the
plaintiffs and great grandfather of Dalisay. During the lifetime of Romana, she gratuitously donated
four (4) parcels of land to her niece Toribia Tioco (legitimate sister of plaintiffs). The latter died
intestate survived by her husband Estacio Dizon and their two (2) legitimate children, Faustino and
Trinidad (mother of Dalisay) and leaving the said four (4) parcels of land as the inheritance of the
children in equal pro-indiviso shares. Subsequently, Balbino died intestate, survived by his
legitimate children and bu his wife (among the plaintiffs) and legitimate grandchildren, Faustino and
Trinidad. In the partition of his estate, three (3) parcels of land were adjudicated as the inheritance
of Toribia but as she had predeceased her father, the said three (3) parcesl of land devolved upon
her two legitimate children, Faustino and Trinidad in equal pro-inidiviso shares. Faustino died
intestate, singled and without issue, leaving his one-half (1/2) pro-indiviso share in the seven (7)
parcels of land to his father, Eustacio, as his sole intestate heir, who reserved the said property
subject to a reserva troncal. When Trinidad died intestate, her rights and interests in the land were
inherited by her only child, Dalisay and not long after, Eustacio died intestate survived also by his
only legitimate child, Dalisay. Dalisay now owns one-half (1/2) of all the seven (7) parcels of land
as her inheritance from Trinidad. Dalisay also claims the other half of the said parcels of land by
virtue of reserva troncal imposed thereon upon the death of Faustino but the plaintiffs opposed
such claim because they claim three-fourths (3/4) of the one-half pro-indiviso interst in said parcel
of land, which was inherited by Eustacio from Faustino, or three-eights (3/8) of the said parcels of
land, by virtue of their being also third degree relatives of Faustino. The lower court declared that
the parties are entitled to one-half (1/2) of the seven (7) parcels of land in dispute, as reservatarios,
in equal proportions. Not satisfied, the defendant appealed.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not all the relatives of the propositus within the third degree in the
appropriate line succeed without distinction to the reservable property upon the death
of the reservista.
2. Whether or not the rights of the plaintiffs are subject to, and should be determined by,
the rules on intestate succession.

RULING:

Article 891. The ascendant who inherits from his descendant any property which
the latter may have acquired by gratuitous title from another ascendant, or a
brother or sister, is obliged to reserve such property as he may have acquired by
operation of law for the benefit of relatives who are within the third degree and who
belong to the line from which said property came.

The reserva troncal merely determines the group of relatives reservatarios to whom the
property should be returned, but within that group, the individual right to the property should be
decided by the applicable rules of ordinary intestate succession, since Article 891 does not specify
otherwise. This conclusion is strengthened by the circumstance that the reserva being an
exceptional case, its application should be limited to what is strictly needed to accomplish the
purpose of the law.

Reversion of the reservable property being governed by the rules on instestate succession, the
plaintiffs must be held without any right thereto because, as aunt and uncles, respectively, of
Faustino (the propositus), they are excluded from the succession by his niece, the defendant,
Wills and Succession 18
Case Digest

although they are related to him within the same degree as the latter. Had the reversionary property
passed directly from the propositus, there is no doubt that the plaintiffs would have been excluded
by the defendant under the rules of intestate succession. There is no reason why a different result
should obtain simply because “the transmission of the property was delayed by the interregnum of
the reserva,” i.e., the property took a “detour” through an ascendant thereby govong rise to the
reservation before its transmission to the reservatario.

Dalisay Tongko-Camacho is entitled to the entirety of the reversionary property to the exclusion
of the plaintiffs.
Wills and Succession 19
Case Digest

Eugenio C. DEL PRADO, plaintiff and appellant, vs.


Aurea S. SANTOS, legal guardian of the minor Jesus Santos
del Prado, defendant appellee.
G.R. No. L-20946, September 23, 1966

FACTS:

Eugenio del Prado is a legitimate brother of Anastacio del Prado, who died single and intestate.
Anastacio cohabited with Aurea Santos (who was legally married) without the benefit of matrimony
and they begot a son named Jesus del Prado whom Anastacio admitted as his son in Jesus’ birth
certificate. At the time of Anastacio’s death, a parcel of land in his name was adjudicated to Jesus
del Prado. Eugenio then filed a complaint before CFI to annul the deed executed by Aurea
adjudicating to her son a parcel of land left by Anastacio alleging that he (Eugenio) was deprived
of his rightful share in the estate of his brother. The lower court dismissed the petition, and upon
appeal to CA, the appellate court certified the case to Supreme Court that such involved purely
legal questions.

ISSUE:

Who has the better right to the parcel of land? Is it the minor left by Anastacio or the latter’s
brother?

RULING:

Since Anastacio del Prado died in 1958, the new Civil Code applies (Article 2263). Illegitimate
children other than natural are entitled to successional rights (Article 287). Where, as in this case,
the deceased died intestate, without legitimate descendants or ascendants, then his illegitimate
child shall succeed to his entire estate (Article 988), to the exclusion of appellant who is only a
collateral relative.
Wills and Succession 20
Case Digest

In the Matter of the Intestate Estates of the Deceased


Josefa Delgado and Guillermo Delgado, Heirs of Luis DELGADO, petitioners
vs.
Heirs of Marciana RUSTIA, respondents.
G.R. No. 155733. January 27, 2006

FACTS:

Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado died without a will. The claimants of their estates may be
divided into two groups: (1) the alleged heirs of Josefa Delgado, consisting of her half- and full-
blood siblings, nephews and nieces, and grandnephews and grandnieces, and (2) the alleged heirs
of Guillermo Rustia, particularly, his sisters, his nephews and nieces, his illegitimate child, and the
de facto adopted child (ampun-ampunan) of the decedents.

The Alleged Heirs of Josefa Delgado

The deceased Josefa Delgado was the daughter of Felisa Delgado by one Lucio Campo. Aside
from Josefa, five other children were born to the couple, namely, Nazario, Edilberta, Jose, Jacoba,
and Gorgonio, all surnamed Delgado. Felisa Delgado was never married to Lucio Campo, hence,
Josefa and her full-blood siblings were all natural children of Felisa Delgado. However, Lucio
Campo was not the first and only man in Felisa Delgado’s life. Before him was Ramon Osorio with
whom Felisa had a son, Luis Delgado.

The Marriage of Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado

Guillermo Rustia proposed marriage to Josefa Delgado but whether a marriage in fact took
place is disputed. Several circumstances give rise to the presumption that a valid marriage existed
between Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado. Their cohabitation of more than 50 years cannot
be doubted.

The Alleged Heirs of Guillermo Rustia

Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado never had any children but they took into their home the
youngsters Guillermina Rustia Rustia and Nanie Rustia. These children, never legally adopted by
the couple, were what was known in the local dialect as ampun-ampunan. During his life with
Josefa, however, Guillermo Rustia did manage to father an illegitimate child, the intervenor-
respondent Guillerma Rustia, with one Amparo Sagarbarria.

ISSUES:

1. Who are the lawful heirs of Josefa Delgado?


2. Whether or not the grandnephews and grandnieces of Josefa Delgado can inherit by right
of representation?
3. Who are the lawful heirs of Guillermo Rustia?

RULING:

1. The Lawful Heirs of Josefa Delgado

It was found out that Felisa Delgado and Ramon Osorio were never married. Hence, all the
children born to Felisa Delgado out of her relations with Ramon Osorio and Lucio Campo, namely,
Luis and his half-blood siblings Nazario, Edilberta, Jose, Jacoba, Gorgonio and the decedent
Josefa, all surnamed Delgado, were her natural children.
Wills and Succession 21
Case Digest

The above-named siblings of Josefa Delgado were related to her by full-blood, except Luis
Delgado, her half-brother. Nonetheless, since they were all illegitimate, they may inherit from each
other. Accordingly, all of them are entitled to inherit from Josefa Delgado.

However, the petitioners in this case are already the nephews, nieces, grandnephews and
grandnieces of Josefa Delgado. Under Article 972 of the new Civil Code, the right of representation
in the collateral line takes place only in favor of the children of brothers and sisters (nephews and
nieces). Consequently, it cannot be exercised by grandnephews and grandnieces. Therefore, the
only collateral relatives of Josefa Delgado who are entitled to partake of her intestate estate are
her brothers and sisters, or their children who were still alive at the time of her death on September
8, 1972. They have a vested right to participate in the inheritance. The records not being clear on
this matter, it is now for the trial court to determine who were the surviving brothers and sisters (or
their children) of Josefa Delgado at the time of her death. Together with Guillermo Rustia, they are
entitled to inherit from Josefa Delgado in accordance with Article 1001 of the new Civil Code:

Should brothers and sisters or their children survive with the widow or widower, the
latter shall be entitled to one-half of the inheritance and the brothers and sisters or
their children to the other one-half.

2. The Lawful Heirs of Guillermo Rustia

Guillerma Rustia is an illegitimate child of Guillermo Rustia. As such, she may be entitled to
successional rights only upon proof of an admission or recognition of paternity. She failed to present
authentic proof of recognition. Together with Guillermina Rustia Rustia, they were held legal
strangers to the deceased spouses and therefore not entitled to inherit from them ab intestato.

Under Article 1002 of the new Civil Code, if there are no descendants, ascendants, illegitimate
children, or surviving spouse, the collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the
deceased. Therefore, the lawful heirs of Guillermo Rustia are the remaining claimants, consisting
of his sisters, nieces and nephews.

Therefore, the intestate estate of Guillermo Rustia shall inherit half of the intestate estate of
Josefa Delgado. The remaining half shall pertain to (a) the full and half-siblings of Josefa Delgado
who survived her and (b) the children of any of Josefa Delgado’s full- or half-siblings who may have
predeceased her, also surviving at the time of her death. Josefa Delgado’s grandnephews and
grandnieces are excluded from her estate. The trial court is hereby ordered to determine the
identities of the relatives of Josefa Delgado who are entitled to share in her estate.

Guillermo Rustia’s estate (including its one-half share of Josefa Delgado’s estate) shall be
inherited by Marciana Rustia vda. de Damian and Hortencia Rustia Cruz (whose respective shares
shall be per capita) and the children of the late Roman Rustia, Sr. (who survived Guillermo Rustia
and whose respective shares shall be per stirpes). Considering that Marciana Rustia vda. de
Damian and Hortencia Rustia Cruz are now deceased, their respective shares shall pertain to their
estates.
Wills and Succession 22
Case Digest

Marcelina EDROSO, petitioner-appellant, vs.


Pablo and Basilio SABLAN, opponent-appellees.
G.R. No. 6878, September 13, 1913

FACTS:

Spouses Marcelina Edroso and Victoriano Sablan had a son named, Pedro who inherited two
parcels of land upon the death of his father. Subsequently, Pedro died, unmarried and without
issue, the two parcels of land passed through inheritance to his mother. Hence the hereditary title
whereupon is based the application for registration of her ownership. The two uncles of Pedro,
Pablo and Basilio Sablan (legitimate brothers of Victoriano) opposed the registration claiming that
either the registration be denied or if granted to her, the right reserved by law to them be recorded
in the registration of each parcel. The Court of Land Registration denied the registration holding
that the land in question partake of the nature of property required by law to be reserved and that
in such a case application could only be presented jointly in the names of the mother and the said
two uncles. Hence, this appeal.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not the property in question is in the nature of a reservable property.


2. Whether or not Marcelina Edroso has the absolute title of the property to cause its
registration.

RULING:

A very definite conclusions of law is that the hereditary title is one without a valuable
consideration (gratuitous tile), and it is so characterized in Article 968 of the Civil Code, for he who
acquires by inheritance gives nothing in return for what he receives; and a very definite conclusion
of law also is that the uncles are within the third degree of blood relationship.

Article 811. The ascendant who inherits from his descendant property which the
latter acquired without a valuable consideration from another descendant, or form
a brother or sister, is under obligation to reserve what he has acquired by operation
of law for the relatives who are within the third degree and belong to the line where
the property proceeded.

Marcelina Edroso, ascendant of Pedro Sablan, inherited from him the two parcels of land which
he had acquired without a valuable consideration – that is, by inheritance from another ascendant,
his father Victoriano. Having acquire them by operation of law, she is obligated to relatives within
the third degree and belong to the line of Mariano Sablan and Maria Rita Fernandez (parents of
Victoriano), where the lands proceeded. The trial court’s ruling that they partake of the nature
property required by law to be reserved is therefore in accordance with the law.

The conclusion is that the person required by Article 811 to reserve the right has, beyond any
doubt at all, the rights to use and usufruct. He has, moreover, the legal title and dominion, although
under a condition subsequent. Clearly he has under an express provision of the law the right to
dispose of the property reserved, and to dispose of is to alienate, although under a condition. He
has the right to recover it, because he is the one who possesses or should possess it and have title
to it, although a limited and revocable one. In a word, the legal title and dominion, even though
under a condition, reside in him while he lives. After the right required by law to be reserved has
been assured, he can do anything that a genuine owner can do.

On the other hadn’t, the relatives within the third degree in whose favor of the right is reserved
cannot dispose of the property, first because it is no way, either actually or constructively or
formally, in their possession; and moreover, because they have no title of ownership or of the fee
Wills and Succession 23
Case Digest

simple which they can transmit to another, on the hypothesis that only when the person who must
reserve the right should die before them will they acquire it.
Wills and Succession 24
Case Digest

Estate of Miguel Mamuyac, Francisco GAGO, petitioner, vs.


Cornelio MAMUYAC, et al., opponents.
G.R. No. L-26317, January 29, 1927

FACTS:

Miguel Mamuyac executed a last will and testament on July 1918 and almost 4 years later,
Francisco Gago presented a petition in the CFI for the probation of such will which was opposed
by Cornelia Mamuyac et al. The petition was denied upon the ground that Mamuyac had executed
a new will on April 1919. An action was filed to secure the probation of the said new will. The
opponents alleged (a) that the said will is a copy of the second will executed by Miguel; (b) that the
same had been cancelled and revoked during the lifetime of the testator; and (c) that the said will
was not the last will and testament of Miguel Mamuyac. The petition was then again denied upon
the ground that the will of 1919 had been the cancelled and revoked based on the evidence
adduced by the trial court that the 1918 will is a mere carbon of its original which remained in the
possession of the deceased, who revoked it before a witness, who typed the 1919 will of the
testator, and before another person who witnessed the actual cancellation by the testator in 1920.
Hence, this appeal.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the will in question has been revoked and cancelled.

RULING:

The law does not require any evidence of the revocation or cancellation of a will to be
preserved. Where a will which cannot be found is shown to have been in the possession of the
testator, when last seen, the presumption is, in the absence of other competent evidence, that the
same was cancelled or destroyed. The same presumption arises where it is shown that the testator
had ready access to the will and it cannot be found after his death. It will not be presumed that such
will has been destroyed by any other person without the knowledge or authority of the testator. In
view of the fact that the original will of 1919 could not be found after the death of the testator and
in view of the positive proof that the same had been cancelled, the conclusions of the lower court
are in accordance with the weight of evidence.

After a careful examination of the entire record, we are fully persuaded that the will presented
for probate had been cancelled by the testator in 1920.
Wills and Succession 25
Case Digest

Pedro D. H. GALLANOSA, et al., petitioners, vs.


Hon. Ubaldo Y. ARCANGEL, et al., respondents
G.R. No. L-29300; June 21, 1978

FACTS:

Florentino Hitosis, a childless widower executed a will wherein he beaqueathed his one-half share
in the conjugal estate to his second wife, Tecia Dollentas, and should Tecia predecease him, as
was the case, his one-half share would be assigned to the spouses Pedro Gallanosa and Corazon
Grecia, the reason being that Pedro, Tecia’s son by her first marriage, grew up under the care of
Florentino and had treated Perdo as his foster child. Florentiono likewise bequeathed his separate
properties to his protégé, Adolfo Fortajada, a minor. A petition for the probate of his will was filed
in CFI which was opposed by his legal heir, his brother Leon Hitosis and his nephews and nieces.
The court admitted the will to probate and appointed Gallanosa as executor. Subsequently, the
testamentary heirs submitted a project of partition which was approved by the court, thus confirming
the heirs’ possession of their respective shares. The testator’s legal heirs did not appeal from the
decree of probate and from the order of partition and distribution. Leon instituted an action against
Pedro for the recovery of the sixty-one parcels of land alleging that the former had been in
continuous possession of said land however, the complaint was dismissed on the ground of res
judicata. The legal heirs of the testator did not appeal from the order of dismissal instead, 28 years
after the probate of the will, they filed an action for the annulment of the will of Florentino and for
the recovery of the parcels of land. Pedro filed for the dismissal of the complaint but the respondent
judge set aside his order of dismissal and granted trial. Hence, this petition for certiorari.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the private respondents have a cause of action for the annulment of the will of
Florention Hitosis and for the recovery of the parcels of land.

RULING:

The lower court committed a grave abuse of discretion in reconsidering its order of dismissal
and in ignoring the testamentary case. It is evident from the allegations of the complaint that the
action is barred by res judicata. The decree of probate is conclusive as to the due execution or
formal validity of the will. The decree of adjudication rendered by the trial court in the testate
proceeding for the settlement of the estate of Florentino Hitosis having been rendered in a
proceeding in rem, is binding upon the whole world.

The private respondents did not even bother to ask for the annulment of the testamentary
proceeding and the proceeding on partition. Obviously, they realized that the final adjudications in
those cases have the binding force of res judicata and that there is no ground, nor it is timely, to
ask for the nullification of the final orders and judgments in those two cases.
Wills and Succession 26
Case Digest

Testate Estate of Felicidad Esguerra Alto-Yap deceased


Fausto E. GAN, petitioner-appellant, vs.
Ildefonso YAP, oppositor-appellee.
G.R. No. L-12190; August 30, 1858

FACTS:

After the death of Felicidad Esguerra Alto-Yap, Fausto Gan filed a petition for the probate of a
holographic will allegedly executed by the fomer. Opposing the petition, her surviving husband
Ildefonso Yap asserted that the deceased had not left any will, nor executed any testament during
her lifetime. The will itself was not presented. Gan tried to establish its contents and due execution
by the statements of allegedly four (4) witnesses to the execution of the alleged will. After hearing
the parties and considering their evidence, the court refused to probate the alleged will. Due to the
denial of motion for reconsideration, Gan appealed.

ISSUE:

Whether or not a holographic will may be probated upon the testimony of witnesses who have
allegedly seen it and who declare that it was in the handwriting of the testator.

RULING:

The Rules of Court allow proof (and probate) of a lost or destroyed will by secondary evidence
– the testimony of witnesses in lieu of the original document. Yet such Rules could not have
contemplated holographic wills which could not then be validly made here.

The difference between holographic wills and ordinary will lies in the nature of the wills. In the
first, the only guarantee of authenticity is the handwriting itself, in the second, the testimony of the
subscribing or instrumental witnesses (and of the notary). The loss of the holographic will entails
the loss of the only medium of proof, if the ordinary will is lost, the subscribing witnesses are
available to authenticate.

The evidence of presented by Gan is refused to be credited. In addition to the dubious


circumstance described in the appealed decision, we find it hard to believe that the deceased
should show her will precisely to relative who had received nothing from it. These could pester her
into amending her will to give them a share, or threaten to reveal its execution to her husband.
Further, if she wanted so much to conceal the will from her husband, why did she not entrust it to
her beneficiaries? In fine, even if oral testimony were admissible to establish and probate a lost
holographic will, we think the evidence submitted by petitioner is so tainted with improbabilities and
inconsistencies that it fails to measure up to that :”clear and distinct” proof required by the Rules of
Court.
Wills and Succession 27
Case Digest

In the Matter of the Will of Antero Mercado, deceased,


Rosario GARCIA, petitioner, vs.
Juliana LACUESTA, et al., respondents.
G.R. No. L-4067, November 29, 1951

FACTS:

A will was executed by Antero Mercado wherein it appears that it was signed by Atty. Florentino
Javiwe who wrote the name of Antero. The testator was alleged to have written a cross immediately
after his name. The Court of First Instance found that the will was valid but the Court of Appeals
reversed the lower court’s decision holding that the attestation clause failed: 1) to certify that the
will was signed on all the left margins of the three pages and at the end of the will by Atty. Javier at
the express request of the testator in the presence of the testator and each and every one of the
witnesses; 2) to certify that after the signing of the name of the testator by Atty. Javier at the former’s
request said testator has written a cross at the end of his name and on the left margin of the three
pages of which the will consists and at the end thereof 3) to certify that the witnesses signed the
will in all the pages thereon in the presence of the testator and of each other. Hence, this appeal.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the attestation clause is valid.

RULING:

The attestation clause is fatally defective for failing to state that Antero Mercado caused Atty.
Javier to write the testator’s name under his express direction, as required by section 168 of the
Code of Civil Procedure. It is not here pretended that the cross appearing on the will is the usual
signature of Antero Mercado or even one of the ways by which he signed his name. After mature
reflection, the SC is not prepared to liken the mere sign of the cross to a thumbmark and the reason
is obvious. The cross cannot and does not have the trustworthiness of a thumbmark.
Wills and Succession 28
Case Digest

Rev. Father Lucio V. Garcia, petitioner, vs.


Hon. Conrado M. VASQUEZ, respondent.
G.R. No. L-26808, March 28, 1969

FACTS:

Gliceria Avelino del Rosario died unmarried and leaving no descendants, ascendants, brother
or sister thereafter, Consuelo S. Gonzales Vda. De Precilla, niece of the deceased petitioned for
probate the alleged last will and testament of Gliceria dated December 1960 and that she be
appointed as special administratrix. Various parties opposed the petition contending that the 1960
will was not intended by Gliceria to be her true will and that there was a 1956 will executed by
Gliceria were the oppositors were named as legatees. Consequently, Dr. Jesus V. Tamesis an
ophthalmologist testified that Gliceria’s left eye suffered form cataract in 1960 which made her
vision mainly for viewing distant object but not for reading prints.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Article 808 regarding blind testator be followed in the instant case to make
Gliceria’s will valid?

RULING:

For all intents and purposes of the rules on probate, the deceased Gliceria del Rosario was
like a blind testator and the due execution of her will would have required observance of the
provisions of Article 808 of the Civil Code.

Art. 808. If the testator is blind, the will shall be read to him twice;
once, by the notary public before whom the will is acknowledged.

The rationale behind the requirement of reading the will to the testator if he is blind or incapable
of reading the will himself, is to make the provisions of the will known to the testator, so that he may
be able to object if they are not in accordance with his wishes. That the aim of the law is to insure
that the dispositions of the will are properly communicated to and understood by the handicapped
testator, thus making them truly reflective of his desire, is evidenced by the requirement that the
will should be read to the latter, not only once but twice, by two different persons, and that the
witnesses have to act within the range of his (the testator’s) other senses.
Wills and Succession 29
Case Digest

Rizalina Gabriel GONZALES, petitioner, vs.


Hon. COURT OF APPEALS and Lutgarda SANTIAGO, respondents.
G.R. No. L-37453, May 25, 1979

FACTS:

Lutgarda Santiago and Rizalina Gonzales are nieces of the late Isabel Andres Gabriel. Lutgarda
filed a petition for the probate of a will alleged to have been executed by the deceased and
designated Lutgarda as the principal beneficiary and executrix. There is no dispute that Isabel died
as a widow and without issue. The will submitted consists of five (5) pages and includes the pages
whereon the attestation clause and the acknowledgment of the notary public were written. The
signatures of the deceased Isabel Gabriel appear at the end of the will on page four and at the left
margin of all the pages. The petition was opposed by Rizalina assailing that the will is not genuine
and was not executed and attested as required by law. The lower court disallowed the probate of
said will and as a consequence, Lutgarda appealed to Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s
decision and allowed the probate of the will. Rizalina filed a motion for reconsideration but the same
was denied. Hence this present action.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the will was executed and attested as required by law.

RULING:

Article 820 of the Civil Code provides for the qualifications of a witness to the execution of wills
while Article 821 sets forth the disqualification from being a witness to a will. In probate proceedings,
the instrumental witnesses are not character witnesses for they merely attest the execution of a will
or testament and affirm the formalities attendant to said execution. And we agree with the
respondent that the rulings laid down in the cases cited by petitioner concerning character
witnesses in naturalization proceedings are not applicable to instrumental witnesses to wills
executed under the Civil Code of the Philippines.

In the case at bar, the finding that each and everyone of the three instrumental witnesses are
competent and credible is satisfactorily supported by the evidence as found by the respondent
Court of Appeals, which findings of fact this Tribunal is bound to accept and rely upon. Moreover,
petitioner has not pointed to any disqualification of any of the said witnesses.
Wills and Succession 30
Case Digest

Beatriz L. GONZALES, petitioner, vs.


COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF MANILA, et al., respondents.
G.R. No. L-34395, May 19, 1981

FACTS:

Benito Legarda y De la Paz, the son of Benito Legarda y Tuason, died and was survived by his
widow, Filomena Roces, and their seven children. The real properties left by Benito were partitioned
in three equal portions by his daughters, Consuelo and Rita, and the heirs of his deceased son
Benito Legarda y De la Paz who were represented by Benito F. Legarda.

Filomena Legarda y Roces died intestate and without issue. Her sole heiress was her mother,
Filomena Roces Vda. de Legarda. Mrs. Legarda executed an affidavit adjudicating extrajudicially
to herself the properties which she inherited from her deceased daughter, Filomena Legarda. As a
result of the affidavit of adjudication, Filomena Roces succeeded her deceased daughter Filomena
Legarda as co-owner of the properties held proindiviso by her other six children.

Mrs. Legarda executed two hand-written identical documents wherein she disposed of the
properties, which she inherited from her daughter, in favor of the children of her sons, Benito,
Alejandro and Jose (sixteen grandchildren in all). She later died and her will was admitted to
probate as a holographic will in the Court of First Instance of Manila which was affirmed by the
Court of Appeals.

In the testate proceeding, Beatriz Legarda Gonzalez, a daughter of the testatrix, filed a motion to
exclude from the inventory of her mother's estate the properties which she inherited from her
deceased daughter, Filomena, on the ground that said properties are reservable properties which
should be inherited by Filomena Legarda's three sisters and three brothers and not by the children
of Benito, Alejandro and Jose, all surnamed Legarda. That motion was opposed by the
administrator, Benito F. Legarda.

Without awaiting the resolution on that motion, Mrs. Gonzalez filed an ordinary civil action against
her brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces and her mother's estate for the purpose of securing a
declaration that the said properties are reservable properties which Mrs. Legarda could not
bequeath in her holographic will to her grandchildren to the exclusion of her three daughters and
her three sons.

The lower court dismissed the action of Mrs. Gonzalez.

Mrs. Gonzales appealed under Republic Act No. 5440 and contends that the lower court erred in
not regarding the properties in question as reservable properties under article 891 of the Civil Code.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not the properties in question are subject to reserva troncal?


2. Whether or not Filomena Roces Vda. de Legarda could dispose of the properties in
question in her will in favor of her grandchildren to the exclusion of her six children?

RULING:

The properties in question were indubitably reservable properties in the hands of Mrs. Legarda.
Undoubtedly, she was a reservor. The reservation became a certainty when at the time of her death
the reservees or relatives within the third degree of the prepositus Filomena Legarda were living or
they survived Mrs. Legarda.
Wills and Succession 31
Case Digest

Mrs. Legarda could not convey in her holographic will to her sixteen grandchildren the
reservable properties which she had inherited from her daughter Filomena because the reservable
properties did not form part of her estate. The reservor cannot make a disposition mortis causa of
the reservable properties as long as the reservees survived the reservor. The said properties, by
operation of article 891, should go to Mrs. Legarda's six children as reservees within the second
degree from Filomena Legarda.

The reservable property bequeathed by the reservor to her daughter does not form part of the
reservor's estate nor of the daughter's estate but should be given to all the seven reservees or
nearest relatives of the prepositus within the third degree.

It should be repeated that the reservees do not inherit from the reservor but from the prepositus,
of whom the reservees are the heirs mortis causa subject to the condition that they must survive
the reservor.
Wills and Succession 32
Case Digest

Tomas JIMENEZ, et al., petitioners, vs.


Hon. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, et al., respondents.
G.R. No. 75773, April 17, 1990

FACTS:

Leonardo (Lino) Jimenez married Consolacion Ungson with whom he begot four (4) children,
namely: Alberto, Leonardo, Sr., Alejandra and Angeles. During such marriage, Lino acquired five
(5) parcels of land in Salomague, Bugallon, Pangasinan. When Consolacion died, Lino contracted
a second marriage with Genoveva Caolboy with whom he begot the seven petitioners herein:
Tomas, Visitacion, Digno, Antonio, Amadeo, Modesto and Virginial, all surnamed Jimenez. After
Lino and Genoveva’s death, Virginia filed a petition before CFI praying to be appointed as
administratix of the properties of the deceased spouses Lino and Genoveva upon which Leonardo
Jimenez, Jr. filed a motion for exclusion of his father’s name and those of his uncle and aunts
contending that they have already received their inheritance consisting of five (f) parcels of land.
However, the petition of Virginia wherein she included the said five (5) parcels of land in the
inventory of the estate of spouses Lino and Genoveva. Consequently, Leonardo Jimenez, Jr.
moved for the exclusion of these properties from the inventory contending that such parcels of land
were already adjudicated to his father and to his uncle and aunts. The probate court ordered the
exclusion of the five (5) parcels of land and denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Virginia.
The latter went to CA on a petition for certiorari and prohibition seeking the annulment of the orders
of the probate court, of which the CA dismissed. Subsequently, the petitioners filed an amended
complained before the RTC to recover possession/ownership of the five (5) parcels of land as part
of the estate of Lino and Genoveva. Private respondents moved for the dismissal of the complaint
on the grounds that the action was barred by prior judgments and by prescription and laches.
Thereafter, the trial court dismissed the complaint on the ground of res judicata. A motion for
reconsideration was denied as well as the petition for certiorari and mandamus filed before the
appellate court. Hence, this petition for review on certiorari.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not in a settlement procceding (testate or intestate) the lower court has
jurisdiction to settle questions of ownership.
2. Whether or not the petitioners’ present action for the recovery of possession and
ownership of the five (5) parcels of land is barred by res judicata

RULING:

Petitioners’ present action for recovery of possession and ownership is appropriately filed
because as a general rule, a probate court can only pass upon questions of title provisionally. The
patent reason is the probate court’s limited jurisdiction and the principle that questions of title or
ownership, which result in inclusion or exclusion from the inventory of the property, can only be
settled in a separate action. It has been held that in a special proceeding for the probate of a will,
the question of ownership is an extraneous matter which the probate court cannot resolve with
finality. This pronouncement no doubt applies with equal force to intestate proceedings as in the
case at bar.

Res judicata does not exist because of the difference in the causes of actions. The other action
was for the settlement of the intestate estate of Lino and Genoveca while the other one was an
action for the recovery of possession and ownership of the five (5) parcles of land. Moreover, while
the CFI had jurisdiction, the same was merely limited jurisdiction. Any pronouncement by said court
as to title is not conclusive and could still be attacked in a separate proceeding.
Wills and Succession 33
Case Digest

Indeed, the grounds relied upon by private respondents in their motion to dismiss do not appear
to be indubitable. Res judicata has been shown to be unavailable and the other grounds of
prescription and laches pleaded by private respondents are seriously disputed.
Wills and Succession 34
Case Digest

Rosa K. Kalaw, petitioner, vs.


Hon. Judge Benjamin RELOVA
and Gregorio K. KALAW, respondents.
G.R. No. L-40207, September 28, 1984.

FACTS:

Natividad K. Kalaw made a holographic will executed on December 24, 1968. Originally, the will
named Rosa K. Kalaw, sister of Natividad, as the sole heir. However, Natividad eventually changed
the name on the will by crossing out Rosa’s name and replacing it with Gregorio K. Kalaw as sole
heir instead. Natividad failed to properly authenticate such alteration with her full signature.

Because of this, the parties decided to submit the holographic will for an examination by the
National Bureau of Investigation. The Bureau’s findings confirmed that the original writings and
those of the alterations were written by the same person.

Rosa argued that the probate should be denied since the alteration on the will is invalid for failing
to comply with Art. 814 which states that “In case of any insertion, cancellation, erasure or alteration
in a holographic will the testator must authenticate the same by his full signature”. Further, Rosa
asserted that the will should be probated on its original content before the alteration was made.

Gregorio contends that the mere fact that Rosa agreed to submit the will for examination estoppes
her from questioning the validity of the alteration and invoking Art. 814 of the Civil Code.

Judge Benjamin Relova denied the probate on the will.

Rosa now sought for the probate on the will as to its original unaltered text.

ISSUE:

May the will, in case of alterations, corrections, or cancellations, without the proper authentication,
be submitted for probate as to the original content prior to such alteration, correction, or
cancellation.

RULING:

No, this cannot be done.

Ordinarily, when a number of erasures, corrections, and interlineations made by the testator in
a holographic Will have not been noted under his signature, the Will is not thereby invalidated as a
whole, but at most only as respects the particular words erased, corrected or interlined.

However, when as in this case, the holographic Will in dispute had only one substantial
provision, which was altered by substituting the original heir with another, but which alteration did
not carry the requisite of full authentication by the full signature of the testator, the effect must be
that the entire Will is voided or revoked for the simple reason that nothing remains in the Will after
that which could remain valid.

To state that the Will as first written should be given efficacy is to disregard the seeming change
of mind of the testatrix. But that change of mind can neither be given effect because she failed to
authenticate it in the manner required by law by affixing her full signature. As it is, with the erasures,
cancellations and alterations made by the testatrix herein, her real intention cannot be determined
with certitude.
Wills and Succession 35
Case Digest

RIcardo LARCERNA, et al., plaintiffs-appellants, vs.


Agatona Paurillo VDA. DE CORCINO, defendant-appellee.
Jacoba MARBEBE, intervenor-appellee.
G.R. No. L-14603, April 29, 1961

FACTS:

Valentine Marbebe begot a daughter, Jacoba Marbebe, before his marriage with Bonifacia Lacerna.
Valentine and Bonificia had an only son, Juan.

Valentine and Bonifacia died leaving three parcels of land to their only son Juan. Juan, then,
executed a power of attorney authorizing the sister of his mother or his aunt, Agatona Vda. de
Corcino take care of the disputed land. Eventually, Juan died intestate and without any issue. The
Court of First Instance declared that the land is property of Jacoba being the half sister of Juan.
Agatona Vda. de Corcino and the nephews and nieces of Bonifacia questioned the decision of the
court. According to them, the case should be based upon Article 891 of the Civil Code of the
Philippines which establishes what is known as "reserva troncal." According to them, under this
principle, the properties in dispute should pass to the heirs of the deceased within the third degree,
who belong to the line from which said properties came. Thus, since Juan Marbebe inherited the
land from his mother, they should go to his nearest relative within the third degree on the maternal
line or to his aunt and cousins and not to Jacoba Marbebe for she belongs to the paternal line.
This, however, was protested by Jacoba Marbebe. She contends that pursuant to Articles 1003 to
1009 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, brothers and sisters exclude all other collateral relatives
in the order of intestate succession, and that, as Juan Marbebe's half-sister, she has, accordingly,
a better right than plaintiffs herein to inherit his properties.

ISSUE:

Who has the better right to succeed Juan?

RULING:

The provision on reserve troncal cannot be applied in this case. In reserve troncal, the
ascendant who inherits from his descendant any property which the latter may have acquired by
gratuitous title from another ascendant, or a brother or sister, is obliged to reserve such property
as he may have acquired by operation of law for the benefit of relatives who are within the third
degree and who belong to the line from which said property came. (Emphasis supplied.) This article
applies only to properties inherited, under the conditions therein set forth, by an ascendant from a
descendant, and this is not the scenario in the given case, for the lands in dispute were inherited
by a descendant, Juan Marbebe, from an ascendant, his mother, Bonifacia Lacerna. Said legal
provision is, therefore, not applicable in this case.

Furthermore, the Trial Judge, correctly awarded the land to Jacoba Marbebe. The said
decision is in accordance with the order prescribed for intestate succession, particularly Articles
1003 to 1009 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, pursuant to which a sister, even if only a half-
sister, in the absence of other sisters or brothers, or of children of brothers or sisters, excludes all
other collateral relatives, regardless of whether or not the latter belong to the line from which the
property of the deceased came.

Based on the foregoing, Jacoba Marbebe has the better right to succeed Juan.
Wills and Succession 36
Case Digest

Testacy of Sixto Lopez, Jose S. LOPEZ, petitioner-appellee,


vs. Agustin LIBORO, oppositor-appellant.
G.R. No. L-1787

FACTS:

The will of Don Sixto Lopez was submitted for probate by Jose Lopez and Clemencia Lopez,
the Don’s sister. The probate was opposed by Agustin Liboro who contended that the will is not
valid due to the following grounds:

(1) that the deceased never executed the alleged will; 2) that his signature appearing in said
will was a forgery; (3) that at the time of the execution of the will, he was wanting in testamentary
as well as mental capacity due to advanced age; (4) that, if he did ever execute said will, it was not
executed and attested as required by law, and one of the alleged instrumental witnesses was
incapacitated to act as such; and it was procured by duress, influence of fear and threats and undue
and improper pressure and influence on the part of the beneficiaries instituted therein, principally
the testator's sister, Clemencia Lopez, and the herein proponent, Jose S. Lopez; and (5) that the
signature of the testator was procured by fraud or trick.

Liboro pointed out that the first page of the will, which was contained in two pages in all, was
not numbered in letters or Arabic numbers as what should have been required by law. It was also
argued that the testator should have signed the will with his signature and not only with his thumb
print if he indeed had the capacity to execute the will. Furthermore, the will did not expressly state
that the language used is a language which the Don understood; in this case, it was in Spanish.

ISSUE:

Whether or not there was substantial compliance to qualify the will for probate.

RULING:

There has been substantial compliance even in the presence of the averred irregularities.

The purpose of the law in prescribing the paging of wills is guard against fraud, and to afford
means of preventing the substitution or of defecting the loss of any of its pages. In the present
case, the omission to put a page number on the first sheet, if that be necessary, is supplied by
other forms of identification more trustworthy than the conventional numerical words or characters.
The unnumbered page is clearly identified as the first page by the internal sense of its contents
considered in relation to the contents of the second page. By their meaning and coherence, the
first and second lines on the second page are undeniably a continuation of the last sentence of the
testament, before the attestation clause, which starts at the bottom of the preceding page.
Furthermore, the unnumbered page contains the caption "TESTAMENTO," the invocation of the
Almighty, and a recital that the testator was in full use of his testamentary faculty, — all of which,
in the logical order of sequence, precede the direction for the disposition of the marker's property.
Again, as page two contains only the two lines above mentioned, the attestation clause, the mark
of the testator and the signatures of the witnesses, the other sheet can not by any possibility be
taken for other than page one.

The testator affixed his thumbmark to the instrument instead of signing his name. The reason
for this was that the testator was suffering from "partial paralysis." While another in testator's place
might have directed someone else to sign for him, as appellant contends should have been done,
there is nothing curious or suspicious in the fact that the testator chose the use of mark as the
means of authenticating his will. It was a matter of taste or preference. Both ways are good. A
statute requiring a will to be "signed" is satisfied if the signature is made by the testator's mark.
Wills and Succession 37
Case Digest

As for the question on the language of the will, there is no statutory requirement that such
knowledge be expressly stated in the will itself. It is a matter that may be established by proof
aliunde.

The will may therefore be submitted for probate.


Wills and Succession 38
Case Digest

Testate Estate of the Late Adriana Maloto,


Aldina MALOTO CASIANO, et al., petitioners, vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, Panfilo MALOTO and Felino MALOTO, respondents.
G.R. No. 76464, February 29, 1988

FACTS:

Adriana Maloto died leaving as heirs the parties (Aldina, Constantcio, Panfilo and Felino) in
this case who are her niece and nephews. Believing that the deceased did not leave behind a last
will and testament, the four (4) heirs commenced an intestate proceeding for the settlement of their
aunt’s estate which was instituted in the then CFI. However, while the case was still in progress,
the heirs executed an agreement of extrajudicial settlement of Adriana’s estate which provides for
the division of the estate into four equal parts among themselves. When presented before the court,
said agreement was approved. However, three years later, Atty. Sulpicio Palma, a former associate
of Adriana’s counsel, discovered a document entitled “KATAPUSAN NGA PAGBUBULAT-AN
(Testamento) and purporting to be the last will and testament of Adriana. Panfilo and Felino are
still named as heirs in the said will, Aldina and Constancio are bequeathed much bigger and more
valuable shares in the estate that what they have received by virtue of the agreement of extrajudicial
settlement. The will likewise gives devises and legacies to other parties, among them being the
petitioners. Thus, Aldino and Constancio joined by other devisees and legatees filed a motion for
reconsideration and annulment of the proceedings therein and for the allowance of the will. Upon
denial of the trial court, the petitioners came before the Supreme Court by way or petition for
certiorari and mandamus which were dismissed because they were not the proper remedies. The
appellate court found out that the will was burned by the househelper of Adriana and was at the
possession of the lawyer in because Adriana was seeking the services of the lawyer in order to
have a new will drawn up.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the will of Adriana Maloto had been efficiently revoked.

RULING:

Article 830. No will shall be revoked except in the following cases:

1. By implication of law; or

2. By some will, codicil, or other writing executed as


provided in case of wills; or

3. By burning, tearing, cancelling, or obliterating the will with


the intention of revoking it, by the testator himself, or by
some other person in his presence, and by his express
direction. If burned, torn, cancelled, or obliterated by
some other person, without the express direction of the
testator, the will may still be established, and the estate
distributed in accordance therewith, if its contents, and
due execution, and the fact of its unauthorized
destruction, cancellation, or obliteration are established
according to the Rules of Court.

In this case, while animus revocandi or the intention to revoke, may be conceded, for that is a
state of mind, yet that requisite alone would not suffice. Animus revocandi is only one of the
necessary elements for the effective revocation of a last will and testament. The intention to revoke
must be accompanied by the overt physical act of burning, tearing, obliterating, or cancelling the
Wills and Succession 39
Case Digest

will carried out by the testator or by another person in his presence and under his express direction.
There is paucity of evidence to show compliance with these requirements. For one, the document
or papers burned by Adriana’s maid was not satisfactorily established to be a will at all, much less
the will of Adriana Maloto. For another, the burning was not proven to have been done under the
express direction of Adriana and was not done in her presence.
Wills and Succession 40
Case Digest

Beatriz NERA, et al., plaintiffs-appellees, vs.


Narcisa RIMANDO, defendant-appellant.
G.R. No. L-5971, February 27, 1911

FACTS:

Rimando opposes the admission for probate of a certain will on the ground that one of the
subscribing witnesses therein was present in the small room where it was executed at the time
when the testator and the other subscribing witnesses attached their signatures. That time he was
outside, some eight or ten feet away, in a large room connecting with the smaller room by a
doorway, across which was hung a curtain which made it impossible for one in the outside room to
see the testator and the other subscribing witnesses in the act of attaching their signatures to the
instrument.

ISSUE:

How may the requirement of the law for all witnesses to subscribe to the will “in the presence” of
each other apply to this case.

RULING:

The will may be admitted for probate.

The true test of presence of the testator and the witnesses in the execution of a will is not
whether they actually saw each other sign, but whether they might have been seen each other sign,
had they chosen to do so, considering their mental and physical condition and position with relation
to each other at the moment of inscription of each signature.

But it is especially to be noted that the position of the parties with relation to each other at the
moment of the subscription of each signature, must be such that they may see each other sign if
they choose to do so. This, of course, does not mean that the testator and the subscribing witnesses
may be held to have executed the instrument in the presence of each other if it appears that they
would not have been able to see each other sign at that moment, without changing their relative
positions or existing conditions. At the moment when a witness signs the document he was actually
and physically present and in such position with relation to the other witnesses that he could see
everything that took place by merely casting his eyes in the proper direction and without any
physical obstruction to prevent his doing so.

The question whether the testator and the subscribing witnesses to an alleged will sign the
instrument in the presence of each other does not depend upon proof of the fact that their eyes
were actually cast upon the paper at the moment of its subscription by each of them, but that at
that moment existing conditions and their position with relation to each other were such that by
merely casting the eyes in the proper direction they could have seen each other sign.
Wills and Succession 41
Case Digest

Remedios NUGUID, petitioner and appellant, vs.


Felix NUGUID and Paz Salonga NUGUID, oppositors and appellees.
G.R. No. L-23445, June 23, 1966

FACTS:

Rosario Nuguid, testator in the holographic will, died single and without descendants, legitimate
or illegitimate. Surviving her were her legitimate parents, Felix Nuguid and Paz Salonga Nuguid,
and six brothers and sisters, namely: Alfredo, Federico, Remedios, Conrado, Lourdes and Alberto,
all surnamed Nuguid.

On May 18, 1963, Remedios Nuguid, sister of Rosario, filed in the Court of First Instance of
Rizal a holographic will allegedly executed by Rosario Nuguid on November 17, 1951, some 11
years before her death. The will stated as follows:

Nov.
17, 1951

I, ROSARIO NUGUID, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, having
amassed a certain amount of property, do hereby give, devise, and bequeath all of the
property which I may have when I die to my beloved sister Remedios Nuguid, age 34,
residing with me at 38-B Iriga, Q.C. In witness whereof, I have signed my name this seventh
day of November, nineteen hundred and fifty-one.

(Sgd.) Illegible

T/ ROSARIO NUGUID

Remedios prayed that said will be admitted to probate and that letters of administration
with the will annexed be issued to her. This was opposed by the parents of Rosario, Felix and Paz.

The parents opposed on the ground of preterition. The CFI of Rizal decided in favor of the
parents and declared that there was indeed preterition of compulsory heirs.

Petitioner insists that the compulsory heirs were simply ineffectively disinherited and that
they are entitled to receive their legitimes, but that the institution of heir "is not invalidated," although
the inheritance of the heir so instituted is reduced to the extent of said legitimes.

ISSUE:

May a part of the will, when preterition has been declared, be considered to still be valid with
respect to the free portion of the will?

RULING:

No, preterition has an effect of completely nullifying the will. Article 854 of the Civil Code states
that “(T)he preterition or omission of one, some, or all of the compulsory heirs in the direct line,
whether living at the time of the execution of the will or born after the death of the testator, shall
annul the institution of heir; but the devises and legacies shall be valid insofar as they are not
inofficious.”

The deceased Rosario Nuguid left no descendants, legitimate or illegitimate. But she left forced
heirs in the direct ascending line her parents. The will completely omits both of them. They thus
received nothing by the testament; tacitly, they were deprived of their legitime; neither were they
expressly disinherited. This is a clear case of preterition.
Wills and Succession 42
Case Digest

It cannot be gleaned in the will that any specific legacies or bequests are therein provided for.
It is in this posture that the Supreme Court held that the nullity is complete. Perforce, Rosario
Nuguid died intestate.

Remedios’ claim that the will should only be nullified as to the part of the legitime and that she
should thus be considered a devisee or legatee is without merit. The law requires that the institution
of devisees and legatees must be expressly stated in the will. Such was not present.

Also, the omission of the parents in the will cannot be interpreted as a form of disinheritance
as the law also requires that, for disinheritance to be proper, the disinheritance should be clearly
and expressly stated in the will. Absent that, no inference of disinheritance may be had.
Wills and Succession 43
Case Digest

Hilarion, Jr. and Enrico ORENDAIN, represented by


Fe D. ORENDAIN, petitioners, vs.
Trusteeship of the Estate of Doña Margarita RODRIGUEZ, respondent.
G.R. No. 168660, June 30, 2009

FACTS:

On July 19, 1960, the decedent, Doña Margarita Rodriguez, died in Manila, leaving a last will
and testament. The will was admitted to probate. At the time of her death, the decedent left no
compulsory or forced heirs and, consequently, was completely free to dispose of her properties,
without regard to legitimes, as provided in her will. Some of Doña Margarita Rodriguez’s
testamentary dispositions contemplated the creation of a trust to manage the properties and the
income from her properties for distribution to beneficiaries specified in the will.

Thus, the following pertinent items in the will paint the desire of the decedent:

1. Clause 2 instructed the creation of trust;

2. Clause 3 instructed that the remaining income from specified properties, after the necessary
deductions for expenses, including the estate tax, be deposited in a fund with a bank;

3. Clause 10 enumerated the properties to be placed in trust for perpetual administration


(pangasiwaan sa habang panahon);

4. Clauses 11 and 12 directed how the income from the properties ought to be divided among, and
distributed to the different beneficiaries; and

5. Clause 24 instructed the administrators to provide medical support to certain beneficiaries, to be


deducted from the fund deposits in the bank mentioned in Clauses 2 and 3.

Almost four decades later, herein petitioners Hilarion, Jr. and Enrico Orendain, heirs of Hilarion
Orendain, Sr. who was mentioned in Clause 24 of the decedent’s will, moved to dissolve the trust
on the decedent’s estate, which they argued had been in existence for more than twenty years, in
violation of Articles 867 and 870 of the Civil Code.

The trustees argued that the trust instituted may be perpetual citing the case of Palad, et al. v.
Governor of Quezon Province where the trust holding the two estate of one Luis Palad was allowed
to exist even after the lapse of twenty years.

ISSUE:

1. Whether or not a trust may be perpetual.


2. Whether or not the named trustees may be considered as heirs to the estate.

RULING:

The general rule remains that upon the expiration of the twenty-year allowable period, the
estate may be disposed of under Article 870 of the New Civil Code, which regards as void any
disposition of the testator declaring all or part of the estate inalienable for more than 20 years.

The Palad Case is not violative of such provision of the law by the trust constituted by Luis
Palad because the will of the testator does not interdict the alienation of the parcels devised. The
will merely directs that the income of said two parcels be utilized for the establishment, maintenance
and operation of the high school.
Wills and Succession 44
Case Digest

Said Article 870 was designed to give more impetus to the socialization of the ownership of
property and to prevent the perpetuation of large holdings which give rise to agrarian troubles. The
trust involved in the Palad case covers only two lots, which have not been shown to be a large
landholding. And the income derived therefrom is being devoted to a public and social purpose –
the education of the youth of the land. The use of said parcels therefore is in a sense socialized.

In the present case, however, there is a different situation as the testatrix specifically prohibited
the alienation or mortgage of her properties which were definitely more than the two (2) properties,
unlike in the Palad case. The herein testatrix’s large landholdings cannot be subjected indefinitely
to a trust because the ownership thereof would then effectively remain with her even in the afterlife.

Apparent from the decedent’s last will and testament is the creation of a trust on a specific set
of properties and the income accruing therefrom. Nowhere in the will can it be ascertained that the
decedent intended any of the trust’s designated beneficiaries to inherit these properties. Therefore,
the probate court must admit the case to determine the properties to be subject to intestate
succession as well as the nearest relative of the deceased that may inherit the said properties
under the perpetual trust.
Wills and Succession 45
Case Digest

OZAETA vs. CUARTERO


G.R. No. L-5597, May 31, 1956

FACTS:

Maria Cuartero and Rosa Gonzales both claimed that they were married to Carlos Palanca
Taguinlay in 1929 and 1945, respectively. The marriage of Rosa to Carlos had been duly
established by testimonial and documentary evidence. One of the pieces of evidence presented
was the will executed by Carlos Palanca wherein he declared that he married Rosa Gonzales in
which marriage they had eight children.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the declarations in a valid Last Will and Testament may be admitted as conclusive
evidence of an existence of a fact during the lifetime of the testator.

RULING:

Declarations in a valid Last Will and Testament may be admitted as conclusive evidence of an
existence of a fact during the lifetime of the testator of the said Will. Palanca executed his will and
he made the solemn declaration in said document that since 1923 and for some years thereafter
he maintained amorous relations with Maria Cuartero and had by her six natural children whom,
according to him, he had liberally fed and supported. He said nothing about having married Maria;
on the contrary, he declared that for grave reasons he regarded her unworthy of being the guardian
of the persons and property of his children by her and so appointed Felisa Joson de Fernandez
and the Philippine National Bank as guardians of their persons, and property respectively. On the
other hand, in the same will he spoke of his marriage to Rosa Gonzales and the eight children he
had by her, which children according to him were legitimated by reason of their subsequent
marriage. Said declaration in the will may not be taken lightly, as a statement of little significance.
When he made said statement he was about 76 years old and must have felt that he had not many
years left to live.
Wills and Succession 46
Case Digest

PADURA vs. BALDOVINO


G.R. No. L-11960, December 27, 1958
FACTS:

In an order, the Court of First Instance of Laguna in Special Proceedings declared all the reservees,
without distinction, “co-owners pro indiviso in equal shares of the parcels of land” subject matter of
the suit.

RULING:

The appealed order was reversed and set aside. The reservatarios who are nephews of the
full blood are declared entitled to a share twice as large as that of the nephews of the half-blood.
Records are remanded to the court below for further proceedings.
Wills and Succession 47
Case Digest

Spouses Alvaro PASTOR, Jr. and Ma. Elena Achaval de PASTOR, petitioners, vs.
The COURT OF APPEALS, Hon. Juan Y. REYES, and Lewellyn QUEMADA,
respondents.
G.R. No. L-56340, June 24, 1983.

FACTS:

Spouses Alvaro Pastor, Sr. and Sofia Bossio were survived by their two legitimate children
Alvaro Pastor, Jr. (Pastor Jr.) and Sofia Pastor (Sofia), and an illegitimate child, Lewellyn Quemada.
Quemada filed a petition for the probate and allowance of an alleged holographic will of Pastor Sr.
with the CFI which contained only one testamentary disposition: a legacy in favor of Quemada
consisting of 30% of Pastor Sr.’s 42% share in the operation by ATLAS. Thereafter, the probate
court appointed Quemada as special administrator of the entire estate of Pastor Sr. whether or not
covered or affected by the holographic will. Consequently, Quemada instituted against Pastor Jr.,
and his wife an action for reconveyance of alleged properties of estate which included the
properties subject of the legacy which were in the names of spouses Pastor Sr. and Ma. Elena,
who claimed to be the owners in their own rights, and not by inheritance. The probate court issued
an order allowing the will to probate. The order was affirmed by CA and on petition for review, the
SC dismissed the petition and remanded the same to the probate court after denying
reconsideration. For two years after remand of the case to the probate court, all pleadings of both
parties remained unacted upon. Not long after, the probate court set the hearing on the intrinsic
validity of the will but upon objection of Pastor Jr. and Sofia on the ground of pendency of the
reconveyance suit, no hearing was held. Instead, the probate court required the parties to submit
their respective position papers. While the reconveyance suit was still pending in another court, the
probate court issued Order of Execution and Garnishment, resolving the question of ownership of
the royalties payable by ATLAS and ruling in effect that the legacy to Quemada was not inofficious.
Pursuant to said order, ATLAS was directed to remit directly to Quemada the 42% royalties due to
decedent’s estate, of which Quemada was authorized to retain 75% for himself as legatee. Further,
the 33% share of Pastor Jr. and/or his assignees was ordered garnished to answer for the
accumulated legacy of Quemada. Being “immediately executory”, Quemada succeeded in
obtaining a Writ of Execution and Garnishment. The oppositors sought reconsideration thereof but
in the meantime, the probate court ordered suspension of payment of all royalties due Pastor Jr.
and/or his assignees until after resolution of oppositor’s motion for reconsideration. Pending motion,
Pastor Jr. and his wife filed with the CA a petition for certiorari and prohibition with a prayer for writ
of preliminary injunction assailing the writ of execution and garnishment issued by the probate
court. However, said petition was denied as well as their motion for reconsideration. Hence, this
petition for review by certiorari with prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the Probate Order resolved with finality the questions of ownership and intrinsic
validity.

RULING:

In a special proceeding for the probate of a will, the issue by and large is restricted to the
extrinsic validity of the will. As a rule, the question of ownership is an extraneous matter which the
Probate Court cannot resolve with finality. Thus, for the purpose of determining whether a certain
property should or should not be included in the inventory of estate properties, the Probate Court
may pass upon the title thereto, but such determination is provisional, not conclusive, and is subject
to the final decision in a separate action to resolve title.

The Order sought to be executed by the assailed Order of execution is the Probate Order
allegedly resolved the question of ownership of the disputed mining properties. However, nowhere
in the dispositive portion is there a declaration of ownership of specific properties. On the contrary,
Wills and Succession 48
Case Digest

it is manifested therein that ownership was not resolved. For it confined itself to the question of
extrinsic validity of the will, and the need for and propriety of appointing a special administrator.
Thus it allowed and approved the holographic will “with respect to its extrinsic validity, the same
having been duly authenticated pursuant to the requisites or solemnities prescribed by law.” It
declared that the intestate estate administration aspect must proceed subject to the outcome of the
suit for reconveyance of ownership and possession of real and personal properties.

The Probate Court did not resolve the question of ownership of the properties listed in the
estate inventory, considering that the issue of ownership was the very subject of controversy in the
reconveyance suit that was still pending. It was, therefore, error for the assailed implementing
Orders to conclude that the Probate Order adjudged with finality the question of ownership of the
mining properties and royalties, and that, premised on this conclusion, the dispositive portion of the
said Probate Order directed special administrator to pay the legacy in dispute.
Wills and Succession 49
Case Digest

In the Matter of the Intestate Estate of Andres G. De Jesus and


Bibiana Roxa de Jesus, Simeon R. ROXAS and Pedro ROXAS de Jesus, petitioners
vs. Andres R. de JESUS, Jr.
G.R. No. L-38338, January 28, 1985

FACTS:

After the death of spouses Andres and Bibiana de Jesus, a special proceeding was instituted
by Simeon, brother of Bibiana. Simeon was then appointed administrator of the estate and
consequently, he delivered to the lower court a document purporting to be the holographic will of
Bibiana which was then set for a hearing. Luz Henson, one of the compulsory heirs filed an
opposition to probate assailing the purported holographic Will of Bibiana was not executed in
accordance with law. However, the lower court issued an order allowing the probate which was
found to have been duly executed in accordance with law. A motion for reconsideration was then
filed by Luz assailing that the alleged holographic will was not dated as required by Article 810 of
the Civil Code and contending that the law requires that the Will should contain the day, month and
year of its execution and that this should be strictly complied with. The court then reconsidered its
earlier order and disallowed the probate of the holographic will on the ground that the word “dated”
has generally been held to include the month, day, and year.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the date (FEB/61) appearing on the holographic will of the deceased Bibian
Roxas de Jesus is a valid compliance with the Article 810 of the Civil Code.

RULING:

ART. 810. A person may execute a holographic will which must be entirely written,
dated, and signed by the hand of the testator himself. It is subject to no other form,
and may be made in or out of the Philippines, and need not be witnessed.

As a general rule, the “date” in a holographic will should include the day, month and year of its
execution. However, when as in the case at bar, there is no appearance of fraud, bad faith, undue
influence and pressure and the authenticity of the Will is established and the only issue is whether
or not the date “FEB/61” appearing on the holographic will is a valid compliance with Article 810 of
the Civil Code, probate of the holographic Will should be allowed under the principle of substantial
compliance.
Wills and Succession 50
Case Digest

In the Matter of the Instestate Estate of Pedro Santillon,


Claro SANTILLON, petitioner-appellant, vs.
Perfecta MIRANDA, Benito MIRANDA and Rosario
CORRALES, oppositors-appellees.
G.R. No. L-19281, June 30, 1965
FACTS:

Pedro Santillon died without testament leaving his wife, Perfecta Miranda and one son, Claro. Four
years after Pedro’s death, Claro filed a petition for letters of administration which was opposed by
his mother and spouses Benito Miranda and Rosario Corrales. The court appointed commissioners
to draft a project of partition and distribution of all properties of Pedro. Claro then filed a motion to
declare share of heirs and to resolve conflicting claims of the parties invoking Art. 892 of the New
Civil Code insisting that after deducting ½ from the conjugal properties (conjugal share of Perfecta),
the remaining ½ must be divided as follows: ¼ for her and ¾ for him. On the other hand, Perfecta
claimed besides her conjugal half, she was entitled under Art. 996 of the NCC to another ½ of the
remaining half. After due notice and hearing, the court held that Perfecta is entitled to ½ share and
the remaining ½ share for Claro after deducting the share of the widow as co-owner of the conjugal
properties. Hence, this appeal.

ISSUE:

The manner of division of share of the estate of an intestate decedent when the only survivors are
the spouse and one legitimate child.

RULING:

Intestate proceedings in the New Civil Code’s chapter on legal or intestate succession, the only
article applicable is Art. 996.

Our conclusion (equal shares) seems a logical inference from the circumstance that whereas
Article 834 of the Spanish Civil Code form which Art. 996 was taken, contained two paragraphs
governing two contingencies, the first, where the widow or widower survives with legitimate children
(general rule), and the second, where the widow or widower survives with only one child
(exception), Art. 996 omitted to provide for the second situation, thereby indicating the legislator’s
desire to promulgate just one general rule applicable to both situations.
Wills and Succession 51
Case Digest

Dy Yieng SEANGIO, Barbara D. SEANGIO and Virginia D. SEANGIO, petitioners,


vs. Hon. Amor A. REYES, Alfredo SEANGIO, et al., respondents.
G.R. Nos. 140371-72, November 27, 2006

FACTS:

Private respondents filed a petition for the settlement of the intestate estate of the late Segundo
Seangio and praying for the appointment of private respondent Elisa D. Seangio-Santos as special
administrator and guardian ad litem of Dy Yieng Seangio. However, petitioners Dy Yieng, Barbara
and Virginia opposed the petition contending that: 1) Dy Yieng is still very healthy; 2) Segundo
executed a general power of attorney in favor of Virginia giving her the power to manage and
exercise control and supervision over his business in the Philippines; 3) Virginia is the most
competent and qualified to serve as the administrator of the estate; and 4) Segundo left a
holographic will disinheriting one of the private respondents. Thereafter, a petition for the probate
of the holographic will of Segundo was filed by the petitioner and reiterating that the probate
proceedings should take precedence over the petition filed by the private respondents because
testate proceedings take precedence and enjoy priority over the intestate proceedings. The two
petitions were then consolidated. Private respondents moved for the dismissal of the probate
proceedings on the ground that the document purporting to be the holographic will of Segundo
does not contain any disposition of the estate of the deceased and thus does not meet the definition
of a will under Article 783 of the Civil Code, of which petitioners filed their opposition to the motion
to dismiss. RTC then issued an order dismissing the petition for probate proceedings. Due to
petitioner’s denial of motion for reconsideration, hence this present action.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not the holographic will is valid.


2. Such that, whether or not the disinheritance is valid.

RULING:

A holographic will, as provided under Article 819 of the Civil Code, must be entirely written,
dated, and signed by the hand of the testator himself. It is subject to no other form, and may be
made in or out of the Philippines, and need to be witnessed.

Secundo’s document, although it may initially come across as a mere disinheritance


instrument, conforms to the formalities of a holographic will prescribed by law. It is written, dated
and signed by the hand of Sefundo himself. An intent to dispose mortis causa can be clearly
deduced from the terms of the instrument, and while it does not make an affirmative disposition of
the latter’s property, the disinheritance of Alfredo, nonetheless, is an act of disposition in itself. In
other words, the disinheritance results in the disposition of the property of the testator Segundo in
favor of those who would succeed in the absence of Alfredo.

The document entitled, Kasulatan ng Pag-Alis ng Mana, unmistakably showed Segundo’s


intention of excluding his eldest son, Alfredo, as an heir to his estate for the reasons that he cited
therein. In effect, Alfredo was disinherited by Segundo. For disinheritance to be valid, Article 916
of the Civil Code requires that the same must be effected through a will wherein the legal cause
therefore shall be specified. With regard to the reasons for the disinheritance that were stated by
Segundo in his document, the Court believes that the incidents, taken as a whole, can be
considered a form of maltreatment of Segundo by his son, Alfredo and that the matter presents a
sufficient cause for the disinheritance of a child or descendant under Article 919 of the Civil Code.

In view of the foregoing, the trial court, therefore, should have allowed the holographic will to
be probated, it is settled that testate proceedings for the settlement of the estate of the decedent
to take precedence over intestate proceedings for the same purpose.
Wills and Succession 52
Case Digest

Spouses Ernesto and Evelyn SICAD, petitioners, vs.


COURT OF APPEALS, Catalino VALDERAMA, et al., respondents.
G.R. No. 125888, August 13, 1998

FACTS:

Aurora Montinola executed a “Deed of Donation Inter Vivos” in favor of her grandchildren who are
the private respondents herein. The deed contained the signatures of the donees in
acknowledgment of their acceptance of the donation. Afterwards, Montinola’s secretary presented
the deed for recording in the Property Registry and the Register of Deeds cancelled TCT No. T-
16105 (the donor’s title) and, in its place, issued TCT No. T-16622 in the name of the donees.
However, Montinola retained the owner’s duplicate copy of the new title as well as the property
itself, until she transferred the same ten (10) years after her death. Montinola later then drew up a
deed of revocation and caused it to be annotated as an adverse claim on TCT No. T-16622 followed
by filing a petition for cancellation of said TCT and the reinstatement of TCT No. T-16105. Her
petition was granted on the ground that the donation was one mortis causa which thus had to
comply with the formalities of a will, since it had not, the donation was void and could not effectively
serve as basis for the cancellation of TCT No. T-16105 and the issuance in its place of TCT No. T-
16622. The donees opposed the petition averring that the donation was one inter vivos which,
having fully complied with the requirements therefor set out in Article 729 of the Civil Code, was
perfectly valid and efficacious. The trial court decided that the donation was indeed one inter vivos
and dismissed Montinola’s petition for lack of merit. The matter of its recovation was not passed
upon. While appeal was pending before the CA, Montinola died and shortly thereafter, the spouses
Sicad filed a Manifestation and Motion alleging that they had become the owners of the property
covered by TCT No. T-16622 in virtue of a “deed of definite sale” and prayed that they be
substituted as appellants and allowed to prosecute the case in their own behalf. Another motion
was presented by the legal heirs of Montinoal declaring that they were not interested in pursuing
the case and asked that the appeal be withdrawn however Montinola’s counsel opposed the
motion. CA issued a resolution ordering the legal heirs as well as spouses Sicad as appellants and
denied the motion for withdrawal of the appeal. However, the eight division of CA denied the
separate motions for reconsideration filed by Montinola’s legal heirs and the spouses Sicad. Hence,
this action.

ISSUE:

Whether the donation is one mortis causa or inter vivos.

RULING:

The real nature of a deed is to be ascertained by both its language and the intention of the
parties as demonstrated by the circumstances attendant upon its execution. A donation which
purports to be one inter vivos but withholds from the done the right to dispose of the donated
property during the donor’s lifetime is in truth one mortis causa. In a donation mortis causa the right
of disposition is not transferred to the done while the donor is still alive.

In the instant case, nothing of any consequence was transferred by the deed of donation in
question to Montinola’s grandchildren; the ostensible donees. They did not get poseession of the
property donated. They did not acquire the right to the fruits thereof, or any other right of dominion
over the property. More importantly, they did not acquire the right to dispose of the property – this
would accrue to them only after ten (10) years from Montinola’s death. Indeed, they never even
laid hands on the certificate of title to the same. They were therefore simply “paper owners” of the
donated property. All these circumstances, including, to repeat, the explicit provisions of the deed
of donation – reserving the exercise of rights of ownership to the done and prohibiting the sale or
encumbrance of the property until ten (10) after her death – ineluctably lead to the conclusion that
Wills and Succession 53
Case Digest

the donation in question was a donation mortis causa, contemplating a transfer of ownership to the
donees only after the donor’s demise.
Wills and Succession 54
Case Digest

Constancio SIENES, et al., plaintiffs-appellants, vs.


Fidel ESPARCIA, defendants-appellees.
G.R. No. L-12597, March 24, 1961

FACTS:

Lot 3368 originally belonged to Saturnino Yaeso. With his first wife, Teresa Ruales, he had four
children named Agaton, Fernando, Paulina and Cipriana, while with his second wife, Andrea
Gutang, he had an only son named Francisco. According to the cadastral records of Ayuquitan, the
properties left by Saturnino upon his death were left to his children as follows: Lot 3366 to Cipriana,
Lot 3367 to Fernando, Lot 3375 to Agaton, Lot 3377 (southern portion) to Paulina, and Lot 3368
(western portion) to Francisco. As a result of the cadastral proceedings, an OCT covering Lot 3368
was issued in the name of Francisco.

Because Francisco was a minor at the time, his mother administered the property for him,
declared it in her name for taxation purposes, and paid the taxes due thereon. When Francisco
died at the age of 20, single and without any descendant, his mother, as his sole heir, executed the
public instrument and sold the property in question to appellants in consideration of the sum of
P800.00. Andrea Gutang died on December 13, 1951, the lone reservee surviving her being
Cipriana Yaeso who died only on January 13, 1952. Said vendees demanded from Paulina and
her husband, the surrender of the OCT which was in their possession, the latter refused, thus giving
rise to the filing of the corresponding motion in the cadastral, which was denied.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the reservable property in question is part of and must be reverted to the estate
of Cipriana Yaeso.

RULING:

As held by the trial court, it is clear upon the facts already stated, that the land in question was
reservable property.

In connection with reservable property, the weight of opinion is that the reserve creates two
resolutory conditions, namely, (1) the death of the ascendant obliged to reserve and (2) the survival,
at the time of his death, of relatives within the third degree belonging to the line from which the
property came. This Court has held in connection with this matter that the reservista has the legal
title and dominion to the reservable property but subject to a resolutory condition; that he is like a
life usufructuary of the reservable property; that he may alienate the same but subject to
reservation, said alienation transmitting only the revocable and conditional ownership of the
reservists, the rights acquired by the transferee being revoked or resolved by the survival of
reservatarios at the time of the death of the reservista.

The sale made by Andrea Gutang in favor of appellees was, therefore, subject to the condition
that the vendees would definitely acquire ownership, by virtue of the alienation, only if the vendor
died without being survived by any person entitled to the reservable property. Inasmuch much as
when Andrea Gutang died, Cipriana Yaeso was still alive, the conclusion becomes inescapable
that the previous sale made by the former in favor of appellants became of no legal effect and the
reservable property subject matter thereof passed in exclusive ownership to Cipriana.

On the other hand, it is also clear that the sale executed by the sisters Paulina and Cipriana
Yaeso in favor of the spouses Fidel Esparcia and Paulina Sienes was subject to a similar resolutory
condition. The reserve instituted by law in favor of the heirs within the third degree belonging to the
line from which the reservable property came, constitutes a real right which the reservee may
alienate and dispose of, albeit conditionally, the condition being that the alienation shall transfer
Wills and Succession 55
Case Digest

ownership to the vendee only if and when the reservee survives the person obliged to reserve. In
the present case, Cipriana Yaeso, one of the reservees, was still alive when Andrea Gutang, the
person obliged to reserve, died. Thus the former became the absolute owner of the reservable
property upon Andrea's death. While it may be true that the sale made by her and her sister prior
to this event, became effective because of the occurrence of the resolutory condition, we are not
now in a position to reverse the appealed decision, in so far as it orders the reversion of the property
in question to the Estate of Cipriana Yaeso, because the vendees did not appeal therefrom.
Wills and Succession 56
Case Digest

Nenita de Vera SUROZA, complainant, vs.


Judge Reynaldo P. HONRADO and Evangeline YUIPCO, respondents.
A.M. No. 2026-CFI, December 19, 1981

FACTS:

Mauro Suroza, a corporal in the 45th Infantry of the US Army (Philippine Scouts) married
Marcelina Salvador but they were childless. However, they reared a boy named Agapito who used
the surname Suroza and who considred them as parents as shown in his marriage contract with
Nenita de Vera. When Mauro died, Marcelina, as a veteran’s widow, became a pensioner of the
Federal Government. Agapito and Nenita begot a child named Lilia and afterwards, Agapito also
became a soldier. However, he was disabled and his wife was appointed as his guardian when he
was declared an incompetent. In connection to this, a woman named Arsenia de la Cruz (apparently
a girlfriend of Agapito) wanted also to be his guardian however the court confirmed Nenita’s
appointment as guardian of Agapito.

The spouses Antonio Sy and Hermogena Talan begot a child named Marilyn Sy, who was
delivered to Marcelina Salvador Suroza who brought her up as a supposed daughter of Agapito
and as her granddaughter. Marilyn used the surname Suroza and stayed with Marcelina but was
not legally adopted by Agapito.

Marcelina, being a veteran’s widow accumulated some cash in two banks. She executed a
notarial will which is in English and was thumbmarked by her for she was illiterate. In that will,
Marcelina bequeathed all her estate to Marilyn. After her death, Marina Paje (alleged to be a
laundrywoman of Marcelina and the executrix in her will) filed a petition for probate of Marcelina’s
alleged will. As there was no opposition, Judge Honrado appointed Marina as administratix and
subsequently, issued two order directing the two banks to allow Marina to withdraw from the
savings of Marcelina and Marilyn Suroza and requiring the custodian of the passbooks to deliver
them to Marina. Upon motion of Marina, Judge Honrado issued another order instructing the sheriff
to eject the occupants of the testatrix’ house among whom was Nenita and to place Marina in
possession thereof. Nenita was then alerted to the existence of the testamentary proceeding hence,
she and other occupants filed a motion to set aside the order ejecting them, alleging that the
decedent’s son Agapito was the sole heir of the deceased; that he has a daughter named Lilia; that
Nenita was Agapito’s guardian; and that Marilyn was not Agapito’s daughter nor the decedent’s
granddaughter. Later, they questioned the probate court’s jurisdiction to issue the ejectment order.
In spite of such fact, Judge Honrado issued on order probating Marcelina’s supposed will wherein
Marilyn was the instituted heiress. Nenita filed in the testate case an omnibus petition “to set aside
proceedings, admit opposition with counter petition for administration and preliminary injunction”
reiterating that Marilyn was a stranger to Marcelina; that the will was not duly executed and attested;
and that the thumbmarks of the testatrix were procured by fraud or trick. Further, that the institution
of Marilyn as heir is void because of the preterition of Agapito and that Marina was not qualified to
act as executrix. Not contented with her motions, Nenita filed an opposition to the probate of the
will and a counter-petition which was however, dismissed. Instead of appealing, Nenita filed a case
to annul the probate proceedings which was also dismissed. Hence, this complaint.

ISSUE:

Whether or not a disciplinary action should be taken against respondent judge for having
admitted a will, which on its face is void.

RULING:

Disciplinary action should be taken against respondent judge for his improper disposition of the
testate case which might have resulted in a miscarriage of justice because the decedent’s legal
heirs and not the instituted heiress in the void will should have inherited the decedent’s estate.
Wills and Succession 57
Case Digest

Inefficiency implies negligence, incompetence, ignorance and carelessness. A judge would be


inexcusably negligent if he failed in the performance of his duties that diligence, prudence and
circumspection which the law requires in the rendition of any public service.

In this case, respondent judge, on perusing the will and noting that it was written in English and
was thumbmarked by an obviously illiterate testatrix, could have readily perceived that the will is
void.
Wills and Succession 58
Case Digest

In the Matter of the Petition for Probate of the Will of Dorotea Perez,
Apolonio TABOADA, petitioner, vs.
Hon. Avelino S. ROSAL, Judge of Court of First Instance
of Southern Leyte (Branch III, Maasin) respondent.
G.R. No. L-36033, November 5, 1982

FACTS:

In the petition for probate filed with respondent court, Taboada attached the alleged last will
and testament of the late Dorotea Perez which was written in the Cebuano-Visayan dialect and
consisting two pages: the first page contains the entire testamentary dispositions and is signed at
the bottom of the page by the testatrix alone and at the left hand margin by three (3) instrumental
witnesses; and the second page contains the attestation clause and the acknowledgment is signed
at the end of such clause by the said instrumental witnesses and at the left hand margin by the
testatrix. The trial court, through Judge Pamatian, denied the probate of the will for want of formality
in its execution and ordered Taboada to submit the names of the intestate heirs, however, the latter
did not comply with the said order. Instead, he filed a manifestation and/or motion ex parte praying
for a thirty-day period within which to deliberate on any step to be taken as a result of the
disallowance of the will and further, he filed a motion for reconsideration of the order denying the
probate of the will. However, the motions could not acted upon by Judge Pamatian due to his
transfer and thus, Judge Rosal assumed the position. Meanwhile, Taboada filed a motion for the
appointment of special administrator. Subsequently, the three motions filed by the petitioner were
denied, hence this present petition.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the law requires that the testatrix and all the three instrumental and attesting
witnesses sign at the end of the will and in the presence of the testatrix and of one another.

RULING:

Article 805. Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end
thereof by the testator himself or by the testator’s name written by some other
person in his presence, and by his express direction, and attested and subscribed
by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one
another.

The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental
witnesses of the will, shall also sign, as aforesaid, each and every page thereof,
except the last, on the left margin, and all the pages shall be numbered
correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page.

The attestation shall state the number of pages used upon which the will is written,
and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page thereof, or cause some
other person to write his name, under his express direction, in the presence of the
instrumental witnesses and that the latter witnessed and signed the will and the
pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another.

Insofar as the requirement of subscription is concerned, it is our considered view that the will
in this case was subscribed in a manner which fully satisfies the purpose of identification. The
signatures of the instrumental witnesses on the left margin of the first page of the will attested not
only to the genuineness of the signature of the testatrix but also the due execution of the will as
embodied in the attestation clause.

The objects of attestation and of subscription were fully met and satisfied in the present case
when the instrumental witnesses signed at the left margin of the sole page which contains all the
Wills and Succession 59
Case Digest

testamentary dispositions, especially so when the will was properly identified by the subscribing
witnesses. There was no question of fraud or substitution behind the questioned order.
Wills and Succession 60
Case Digest

Eufracia VDA. DE CRISOLOGO, et al., petitioners, vs.


COURT OF APPEALS, et al., respondents.
G.R. No. L-44051, June 27, 1985

FACTS:

Julia Capiao had an extra-marital affair with Victoriano Taccad, with one child and/or forced
heir, named Lutgarda Capiao, who then married Raymundo Zipagan. Raymundo and Lutgarda
were childless. Raymundo and Lutgarda died, the latter leaving no will. The plaintiffs herein
(relatives within the fifth degree) were consequently instituted as Lutgarda’s legal heirs to inherit all
the properties which were hers by virtue of the extra-judicial partition.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the relatives of Julia may inherit from her illegitimate child Lutgarda.

RULING:

Relatives on the legitimate line, has to right to inherit from an illegitimate daughter.It is clear
from the records that the petitioners cannot inherit the properties in question because of Article
992 of the Civil Code. Being relatives on the legitimate line of Julia Capiao, they cannot inherit
from her illegitimate daughter. Their relative Julia Capiao predeceased the daughter, Lutgarda.
Wills and Succession 61
Case Digest

Rosario Feliciano VDA. DE RAMOS, et al., petitioners, vs.


COURT OF APPEALS, Marcelina (Martina) GUERRA, et al., respondents.
G.R. No. L-40804, January 31, 1978

FACTS:

Adelaida Nista claimed to be one of the instituted heirs, filed a petition for the probate of the
alleged will and testament as well as codicil of the late Eugenia Danila. Adelaida prayed that after
due notice and hearing, the alleged will and codicil be probated and that she or any other person
be appointed as administrator of the estate. Buenaventura and Marcelina, both surnamed Guerra,
filed an opposition alleging among others that they are legally adopted children of the late spouses
Florentino Guerra and Eugenia Danila; that the purported will and codicil were procured through
fraud and undue influence; that the formalities required by law for the execution of a will and codicil
have not been complied with; that the late Eugenia Danila had already executed her last will and
testament was duly probated and not revoked or annulled during her lifetime; and that Adelaida is
not competent and qualified to act as administration of the estate. Afterwards, the parties entered
into a compromise agreement which was approved by the lower court. The petitioners herein filed
a motion for leave to intervene as co-petitioners and filed a reply partly admitting and denying the
material allegations in the opposition to the petition and alleging among other things, that oppositors
repudiated their institution as heirs and executors because they failed to cause the recording in the
Register of Deeds the will and testament in accordance with the Rules and committed acts of
ingratitude when they abandoned the testatrix and denied her support. Subsequently, the
intervenors (petitioners herein) also filed a motion for new trial and/or re-hearing and/or relief from
judgment and to set aside the judgment based on the compromise agreement and consequently,
the oppositors interposed an opposition to the motion to which the intervenors filed their reply. The
lower court allowed and admitted to intervene the petitioners herein, the compromise agreement
was disapproved except as regards to their lawful rights, and the original petition and amended
opposition to probate of the alleged will and codicil stand. The lower court also denied the motion
for the appointment of a special administrator filed by the intervenors. The latter filed a motion for
reconsideration but was denied. The lower court then allowed the probate of the will although two
of the instrumental witnesses testified that they did not see the testatrix sign the will. The oppositors
herein appealed to the Court of Appeals set aside the order of allowing the probate. Hence, this
present action.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the last will and testament and its accompanying codicil were executed in
accordance with the formalities of the law considering the complicated circumstances that two (2)
of the attesting witnesses testified against their due execution while other non-subscribing
witnesses testified to the contrary.

RULING:

There is ample and satisfactory evidence to convince the Supreme Court that the will and
codicil were executed in accordance with the formalities required by law. It appears positively and
convincingly that the documents were prepared by a lawyer and the execution of the same was
evidently supervised by his associate and before whom the deeds were also acknowledged. The
solemnity surrounding the execution of a will is attended by some intricacies not usually within the
comprehension of an ordinary layman. The object is to close the door against bad faith and fraud,
to avoid substitution of the will and testament, and to guarantee their truth and authenticity. If there
should be any stress on the participation of lawyers in the execution of a will, other than an
interested party, it cannot be less than the exercise of their primary duty as members of the Bar to
uphold the lofty purpose of the law. There is no showing that the lawyers who participated in the
execution of the will had been remiss in their sworn duty. Consequently, the Court of Appeals failed
to consider the presumption of regularity on the questioned documents. There were no incidents
Wills and Succession 62
Case Digest

brought to the attention of the trial court to arouse suspicion of anomaly. While the opposition
alleged fraud and undue influence, no evidence was presented to prove their occurrence. There is
no question that each and every page of the will and codicil carry the authentic signatures of
Eugenia Danila and the three (3) attesting witnesses. Similarly, the attestation claim far from being
deficient were properly signed by the attesting witnesses. Neither it is disputed that these witnesses
took turns in signing the will and codicil in the presence of each and the testatrix. Both instruments
were duly acknowledged before a Notary Public who was all the time present during the execution.
Wills and Succession 63
Case Digest

Lauro G. VIZCONDE, petitioner, vs.


COURT OF APPEALS, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, Branch 120, Caloocan City
and Ramon G. NICOLAS, respondents.
G.R. No. 118449, February 11, 1998

FACTS:

Spouses Lauro Vizconde and Estrellita Nicolas had two children namely, Carmela and Jennifer.
Estrellita is one of the five children of spouses Rafael Nicolas and Salud Gonzales. The private
respondent herein is a brother of Estrellita.

Estrellita purchased from Rafael a parcel of land which was afterwards sold to Amelia Lim and
Natividad Chiu. Estrellita purchased again from Premier Homes a parcel of land with improvements.
Thereafter, an unfortunate event happened when Estrellita and her daughters were killed.
Consequently, Lauro entered into an “Extra-Judicial Settlement of the Estate of Deceased Estrellita
Nicolas-Vizconde with Waiver of Shares” with his wife’s parents. The settlement gave fifty percent
(50%) of the total amount of the bank deposits of Estrellita and her daughters to Rafael and the
other fifty percent (50%) to Lauro. The car and the property were given to Lauro and to Estrellita’s
parents but the latter waived all their claims, rights, ownership and participation as heirs in the said
properties. Not long after, Rafael died and to settle his estate, Teresita (one of his children)
instituted an instestate estate proceeding and prayed to be appointed Special Administratix of
Rafael’s estate. Further, she sought to be appointed as Salud and Ricardo’s guardian of which
Ramon filed an opposition. Private respondent filed another opposition alleging that Estrellita was
given the Valuenzela property and subsequently, he filed his own petition averring that the legitime
of Salud and Ricardo should come from the collation of all the properties distributed to his children
by Rafael during his lifetime. Ramon stated that Lauro is one of Rafael’s children by right of
representation as the widower of the deceased legitimate daughter, Estrellita. In a consolidated
order, RTC appointed Ramon as the guardian of Salud and Ricardo while Teresita was appointed
as the Special Administratix of Rafael’s estate however, Ramon was afterwards removed as
guardian for selling his wards’ property without the court’s knowledge and permission.

RTC then ordered Lauro to file any appropriate petition or motion related to the pending petition
insofar as the case is concerned and to file any opposition to any pending motion that has been
filed by Ramon and Teresita. Lauro fied a Manifestation stressing that he was neither a compulsory
heir nor an intestate heir of Rafael and he has no interest to participate in the proceedings.
However, despite this manifestation, Ramon moved to include Lauro in the intestate estate
proceeding and asked that the Parañaque property, the car and the balance of the proceeds of the
sale of the Valenzuela property be collated, which the trial court granted. Lauro filed a motion for
reconsideration but was denied. Lauro filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition before the Court
of Appeals but the same was denied. Hence, this action.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the Parañaque property is subject to collation.

RULING:

Basic principles of collation:

Article 1061. Every compulsory heir, who succeeds with other compulsory heirs,
must bring into the mass of the estate any property or right which he may have
received from the decedent, during the lifetime of the latter, by way of donation, or
any other gratuitous title, in order that it may be computed in the determination of
the legitime of each heir, and in the account of the partition.
Wills and Succession 64
Case Digest

Collation is the act by virtue of which descendants or other forced heirs who intervene in the
division of the inheritance of an ascendant bring into the common mass the property which they
received from him, so that the division may be made according to law and the will of the testator.
Collation is only required of compulsory heirs succeeding with other compulsory heirs and involves
property or rights received by donation or gratuitous title during the lifetime of the decedent.

The attendant facts herein do not make a case of collation: 1) The probate court erred in
ordering the inclusion of petitioner in the intestate estate proceeding. Petitioner, a son-in-law of
Rafael, is not one of the latter’s compulsory heirs; 2) As a rule, the probate court may pass upon
and determine the title or ownership of a property which may or may not be included in the estate
proceedings. Such determination is provisional in character and is subject to final decision in a
separate action to resolve title. In the case at bench, however, we note that the probate court went
beyond the scope of its jurisdiction when it proceeded to determine the validity of the sale of the
Valenzuela property between Rafael and Estrellita and ruled that the transfer between the
concerned parties was gratuitous. The interpretation of the deed and the true intent of the
contracting parties, as well as the presence or absence of consideration, are matters outside the
probate court’s jurisdiction; 3) The order of the probate court subjecting the Parañaque property to
collation is premature. Records indicate that the intestate estate proceedings is still in its initiatory
stage; 4) Even on the assumption that collation is appropriate in this case, the probate court,
nonetheless, made a reversible error in ordering collation of the Parañaque property. We note that
what was transferred to Estrellita by way of deed of sale, is the Valenzuela property. The Parañaque
property which Estrellita acquired by using the proceeds of the sale of the Valenzuela property
does not become collationable simply by reason thereof. Indeed, collation of the Parañaque
property has no statutory basis; and 5) it is futile for the probate court to ascertain whether or not
Valenzuela property may be brought to collation. It should be stressed that Estrellita died ahead of
Rafael.

SCRIBD DIGEST PART 3

ATUN v. NUÑEZ

GR No.L-8018, October 26, 1955

87 PHIL 762

FACTS: Estefania Atun died without any issue leaving in the possession of the plaintiffs, her
neices and nephews, a parcel of land. Such land was delivered by plaintiff Gil Atun to Silvestra
Nuñez (sister of defendant-appellee Eusebio Nuñez) for cultivation, for which Silvestra paid the
Atuns a part of the harvest as rental. In 1940, Silvestra turned over the land to defendant Eusebio
Nuñez, who thereafter refused to recognize plaintiffs' ownership or to deliver their share of the
produce. The defendant turn sold the land to his co-defendant Diego Belga, who took the property
with the knowledge that it belonged, not to Nuñez, but to plaintiffs. There was no prior judicial
declaration, however, that the plaintiffs were the legal heirs of the decedent.

ISSUE: Has plaintiffs the right to recover the property as a successor of the decedent?
Wills and Succession 65
Case Digest

HELD: Yes. In the instant case, as the land in question still stands registered in the name of
Estefania Atun, now deceased, the present owners thereof would be her legal heirs. It is of record
that Estefania Atun died without any issue or ascendants and left as her only surviving heirs the
children of her brother Nicolas, plaintiffs herein; and the rule is settled that the legal heirs of a
deceased may file an action arising out of a right belonging to their ancestor, without a separate
judicial declaration of their status as such, provided there is no pending special proceeding for the
settlement of the decedent's estate.

LEDESMA v. MCLACHLIN

GR No.L-44837, November 23, 1938

66 PHIL 547

FACTS: Lorenzo Quitco, died in 1930, leaving defendant Mclachlin and her children as heirs.
Plaintiff Ana Ledesma, spurious/illegitimate child of Lorenzo Quitco, and her mother, sued to
declare her as compulsory heir which the court however denied. Two years later, Lorenzo's father
Eusebio died, and because he left some personal and real properties without a will, an intestate
proceeding was instituted and a court order declaring his compulsory heirs did not of course include
Ana as one. Following such court action, the plaintiff proceeded to collect the sum payable on a
promissory note then issued in favor of her by Lorenzo by filing a claim in the intestate proceedings
of Eusebio's Estate claiming that the sum be paid out of the properties inherited by the defendants
represents that of the successional rights of Lorenzo as a compulsory heir of his father Eusebio.

ISSUE: Has plaintiff the right collect the sum promised by her father from her grandfather's
estate?

HELD: No. The properties inherited by the defendants from their deceased grandfather by
representation are not subject to the payment of debts and obligations of their deceased father,
who died without leaving any property. While it is true that under the provisions of Articles 924 to
927 of the Civil Code, a child presents his father or mother who died before him in the properties
of his grandfather or grandmother, this right of representation does not make the said child
answerable for the obligations contracted by his deceased father or mother, because, as may be
seen from the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure referring to partition of inheritances, the
inheritance is received with the benefit of inventory, that is to say, the heirs only answer with the
properties received from their predecessor. The herein defendants, as heirs of Eusebio Quitco, in
representation of their father Lorenzo M. Quitco, are not bound to pay the indebtedness of their
father from whom they did not inherit anything.

LIMJOCO v. INTESTATE ESTATE OF PEDRO FRAGRANTE


Wills and Succession 66
Case Digest

GR No.L-770, April 27, 1948

80 PHIL 776

FACTS: Petitioner opposed the issuance by the Public Service Commission of a certificate of
public convenience to install, maintain and operate an ice plant in San Juan to the respondent
despite his demise, contending that the Commission erred in allowing the substitution of the legal
representative of the estate of Pedro O. Fragante for the latter as party applicant in the case then
pending before the commission, and in subsequently granting to said estate the certificate applied
for, which is said to be in contravention of law.

ISSUE: Is the decision of the Commission correct and with basis?

HELD: Yes. If the respondent had not died, there can be no question that he would have had
the right to prosecute his application before the commission to its final conclusion. No one would
have denied him that right... The aforesaid right of respondent to prosecute said application to its
conclusion was one which by its nature did not lapse through his death. Hence, it constitutes a part
of the assets of his estate, for which right was a property despite the possibility that in the end the
commission might have denied his application, although under the facts of the case, the
commission granted the application in view of the financial ability of the estate to maintain and
operate the ice plant.

USON v. DEL ROSARIO

GR No.L-4963, January 29, 1953

92 PHIL 530

FACTS: Faustino Nebreda died in 1945 leaving as an only heir his estranged wife Maria Uson,
the petitioner. The latter sued to recover the ownership and possession of five parcels of land
occupied by defendant Maria del Rosario, decedent's common-law-spouse and her children. As a
defense, defendant presented a deed of separation agreed upon and signed Faustino and Uson
containing among others an statement giving a parcel of land to Uson as an alimony and the latter
renouncing her rights to any inheritance from Faustino.

The defendant also contends that while it is true that the four minor defendants are illegitimate
children of the decedent and under the old Civil Code are not entitled to any successional rights,
however, under the new Civil Code they are given the status and rights of natural children and are
entitled to the successional rights which the law accords to the latter (article 2264 and article 287,
new Civil Code), and because these successional rights were declared for the first time in the new
code, they shall be given retroactive effect even though the event which gave rise to them may
have occurred under the prior legislation (Article 2253, new Civil Code).
Wills and Succession 67
Case Digest

ISSUE: Are the contentions of the defendants correct?

HELD: No. It is evident that when the decedent died in 1945 the five parcels of land he was
seized of at the time passed from the moment of his death to his only heir, his widow Maria Uson
(Article 657, old Civil Code). As this Court aptly said, "The property belongs to the heirs at the
moment of the death of the ancestor as completely as if the ancestor had executed and delivered
to them a deed for the same before his death" (Ilustre vs. Alaras Frondosa, 17 Phil., 321). From
that moment, therefore, the rights of inheritance of Maria Uson over the lands in question became
vested.

The claim of the defendants that Uson had relinquished her right over the lands in question in
view of her expressed renunciation to inherit any future property that her husband may acquire and
leave upon his death in the deed of separation they had entered into cannot be entertained for the
simple reason that future inheritance cannot be the subject of a contract nor can it be renounced.

Nor does the contention that the provisions of the New Civil Code shall apply and be given
retroactive effect. Article 2253 above referred to provides indeed that rights which are declared for
the first time shall have retroactive effect even though the event which gave rise to them may have
occurred under the former legislation, but this is so only when the new rights do not prejudice any
vested or acquired right of the same origin... As already stated in the early part of this decision, the
right of ownership of Maria Uson over the lands in question became vested in 1945 upon the death
of her late husband and this is so because of the imperative provision of the law which commands
that the rights to succession are transmitted from the moment of death (Article 657, old Civil Code).
The new right recognized by the new Civil Code in favor of the illegitimate children of the deceased
cannot, therefore, be asserted to the impairment of the vested right of Maria Uson over the lands
in dispute.

LITONJUA v. MONTILLA

GR No.L-4170, January 31, 1952, 90PHIL757

90 PHIL 757

FACTS: Pedro Litonjua obtained a judgment against Claudio Montilla for the payment of a sum
of P4,039. Failing to find or identify a property of Claudio to be levied, petitioner then proceeded to
file a claim in the intestate proceeding of the estate of Agustin Montilla Sr, father of the deceased.
The estate has not yet been properly probated.

ISSUE: Could the petitioner succeed in collecting the debt as against the estate of the debtor's
deceased parent?
Wills and Succession 68
Case Digest

HELD: No. In the case of Ortiga Brothers and Co. vs. Enage and Yap Tico, 18 Phil. 345, it was
held that the creditor of the heirs of a deceased person is entitled to collect his claim out of the
property which pertains by inheritance to said heirs, only after the debts of the testate or intestate
have been paid and when the net assets that are divisible among the heirs are known, because
the debts of the deceased must first be paid before his heirs can inherit. It was therein also held
that a person who is not a creditor of a deceased, testate or intestate, has no right to intervene
either in the proceedings brought in connection with the estate or in the settlement of the
succession. The foregoing pronouncements are perfectly applicable to the case at bar, because
the appellant is not a creditor of the deceased Agustin Montilla, Sr. and he seeks to collect his claim
out of the inheritance of Claudio Montilla, an heir, before the net assets of the intestate estate have
been determined.

DE GUZMAN vda. DE CARRILLO v. DE PAZ

GR No.L-4133, May 13, 1952

91 PHIL 265

FACTS: A lot had been mortgaged by spouses Severino Salak and Petra Garcia to Pedro
Magat; the latter then assigned the mortgage to Honoria Salak. After the death Petra, Severino
transferred 1/2 of his rights to the property to Honoria for the sum representing 1/2 of the
consideratioin paid by her to the mortgagees Magat. Severino later died leaving the defendants as
heirs. Honoria also died, with the plaintiff as heir. Intestate proceedings were instituted for the
settlement and distribution of the estate of the deceased Severino and Petra, including the lot in
question which was adjudicated, after proper proceedings in favor of the defendants. Plaintiff sued
for reconveyance of the 1/2 of the portion of the lot in her favor as heir of Honoria.

ISSUE: May the petition prosper?

HELD: No. The property now sought to be recovered from the defendants was adjudicated in
their favor after all claims, indebtedness and obligations chargeable against the intestate estate of
the deceased Severino Salak and Petra Garcia had been all paid and accounted for out of the
estate of the deceased; so that, in the eyes of the law, the properties now in the hands of the
defendants are presumed to be free from all claims whatsoever. The claim of the plaintiff set up in
the complaint should have been interposed during the pendency and progress of Special
Proceeding No. 3; but plaintiff not having done so, she cannot now bring this action against the
defendants, for it is clear that there exists no privity of contract between plaintiff and defendants
upon which plaintiff can predicate her action against the present defendants.

IBARLE v. PO
Wills and Succession 69
Case Digest

GR No.L-5064, February 27, 1953

92 PHIL 721

FACTS: Leonardo Winstanley died leaving a parcel of land to his surviving spouse Catalina
Navarro and some minor children. Catalina sold the entire parcel of land to Maria Canoy who later
sold the same land to the plaintiff Bienvenido Ibarle. After some time, after her appointment as
guardian of her minor children, Catalina again sold 1/2 of the land in question, which portion now
belonged to the children as heirs, to herein defendant Esperanza Po.

ISSUE: Which sale was valid, and who has the rightful claim to the property?

HELD: The sale to defendant is valid. Article 657 of the old Civil Code provides: "The rights to
the succession of a person are transmitted from the moment of his death." in a slightly different
language, this article is incorporated in the new Civil Code as article 777.

The above provision and comment make it clear that when Catalina Navarro Vda. de
Winstanley sold the entire parcel to the Canoy spouses, one-half of it already belonged to the
seller's children. No formal or judicial declaration being needed to confirm the children's title, it
follows that the first sale was null and void in so far as it included the children's share.

On the other hand, the sale to the defendant having been made by authority of the competent
court was undeniably legal and effective. The fact that it has not been recorded is of no
consequence. If registration were necessary, still the non-registration would not avail the plaintiff
because it was due to no other cause than his own opposition.

OSORIO v. OSORIO

GR No.L-10474, March 29, 1916

41 PHIL 531

FACTS: Francisco Osorio y Garcia filed a written complaint alleging that he is a natural son of
one Francisco Osorio y Reyes who died in 1896; and that he had been in continuous possession
of the status of natural son of said Osorio y Reyes, as proven by direct acts of the latter and of his
family; that the defendant Soledad Osorio, lawful daughter and lawful heir of said Osorio y Reyes,
be ordered to recognize the plaintiff as a natural son of said Osorio y Reyes, and is entitled to share
in his father's estate; and, furthermore, that said defendant be ordered to furnish subsistence to
plaintiff in such amount as the court might deem proper to fix. The evidence offered relating to the
fact of filiation of Osorio y Garcia to Osorio Reyes is strong and unimpeachable, so that the court
found the legitimacy of claim of Osorio y Garcia to be properly established.
Wills and Succession 70
Case Digest

ISSUE: Has plaintiff the right to be recognized as co-heir and be entitled to the rights
appertaining to his deceased father's estate?

HELD: Yes. Recognition of the child as a natural child must be made if he has been in
continuous possession of his filiation, proven by the attendance of his father at his baptism, in the
certificate in which his name and that of his mother appear, though the document contains errors,
and by his father's statement to various friends that the boy was his natural son, and by his father's
always having attended to the care, education and support of his son.

So that the plaintiff, Francisco Osorio y Garcia, according to the facts proven in this case and
the law on the subject, is entitled to have his half sister Soledad Osorio, a legitimate daughter of
the father of both of them, recognize him as being the natural, recognized son of Francisco Osorio
y Reyes and as entitled to the rights granted him by law in respect to his deceased father's estate,
all of which is in possession of the defendant spouses.

RAMIREZ v. BALTAZAR

GR No.L-25049, August 30, 1968

22 SCRA 918

FACTS: Victoriana Eguaras, single, mortgaged a real estate to spouses Baltazar, defendants
in this case. Upon demise of Victoriana, the mortgagees, as creditors of the deceased, filed a
petition for the intestate proceedings of Victoriana's estate, alleging further that plaintiffs Felimon
and Monica Ramirez are heirs of the deceased. Felimon was later appointed as adminstrator but
did not qualify so that Artemio Diawan was appointed as judicial administrator of the estate. The
mortgagees then filed a foreclosure of the property in question and succeeded, after Diawan failed
to file an answer against the petition. The foreclosure sale ensued, the property was bought by the
mortgagees themselves and the sale was confirmed by the court. Felimon sued for the annulment
of the entire foreclosure proceedings, alleging among others the failure of the judicial administrator
to protect their interests. Defendants contended that plaintiffs have no legal capacity to sue and
hava no cause of action.

ISSUE: Have plaintiffs the cause of action against the defendant?

HELD: Yes. There is no question that the rights to succession are automatically transmitted to
the heirs from the moment of the death of the decedent. While, as a rule, the formal declaration or
recognition to such successional rights needs judicial confirmation, this Court has, under special
circumstances, protected these rights from encroachments made or attempted before the judicial
declaration. In Pascual vs. Pascual, it was ruled that although heirs have no legal standing in court
upon the commencement of testate or intestate proceedings, this rule admits of an exception as
"when the administrator fails or refuses to act in which event the heirs may act in his place."
Wills and Succession 71
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DE BORJA v. MENCIAS

GR No.L-20609, September 29, 1966

21 SCRA 1133

FACTS: Petitioners Juan De Borja et al. petitioned for the reversal of the order of Judge
Mencias, denying their petition cause the sale of the properties levied upon to satisfy the money
judgment in a civil case rendered in favor of petitioners against respondent Crisanto de Borja.
Petitioners levied aganst the rights, interest and

participation which Crisanto de Borja had in certain real properties, as an heir of the decedents
Josefa Tangco and Francisco de Borja, whose estates were then pending settlement in Special
Proceedings Nos. F-7866 and 1955 of the aforementioned court, respectively.

this Court hereby holds that whatever interest, claim or right which Crisanto de Borja may have
in the testate estate of Josefa Tangco and in the intestate estate of Francisco de Borja are subject
to attachment and execution for the purpose of satisfying the money judgment rendered against
the said heir

ISSUE: May the sale of the property levied for execution proceed?

HELD: The above question must be answered in the affirmative, provided it is understood that
the sale shall be only of whatever rights, interest and participation may be adjudicated to said heir
as a result of the final settlement of the estates, and that delivery thereof to the judgment creditor
or to the purchaser at the public sale thereof shall be made only after the final settlement of the
estates and in the manner provided by the legal provision mentioned above.

RODRIGUEZ v. DE BORJA

GR No.L-21993, June 21, 1966

17 SCRA 418

FACTS: Private respondents Apolonia Pangilinan and Adelaida Jacalan delivered to the Clerk
of Court of Bulacan a purported last will and testament of Fr. Rodriguez, meanwhile the petitioners
filed a petition before the court to examine the purported will but which was later withdrawn, and a
petition for the settlement of the intestate estate of Fr. Rodriguez was subsequently field in a
another court in Rizal. The petitioners now sought the dismissal of the special proceeding on the
settlement of the decedent's estate based on the purported will, questioning therefore the
jurisdiction of CFI Bulacan.
Wills and Succession 72
Case Digest

ISSUE: Does CFI Bulacan have jurisdiction to proceed with the testate proceedings?

HELD: Yes. The jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance of Bulacan became vested upon the
delivery thereto of the will of the late Father Rodriguez, even if no petition for its allowance was
filed until later, because upon the will being deposited the court could, motu proprio, have taken
steps to fix the time and place for proving the will, and issued the corresponding notices
conformably to what is prescribed by section 3, Rule 76, of the Revised Rules of Court. Moreover,
aside from the rule that the Court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a
decedent shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts, intestate succession is only
subsidiary or subordinate to the testate, since intestacy only takes place in the absence of a valid
operative will.

CHAVEZ v. IAC

GR No. L-68282, November 8, 1990

FACTS: Manuela Buenavista assigned her paraphernal property in equal pro-diviso among her
6 children, while possession of such property still remains with her. Three of her children sold each
their share to private respondent Concepcion, consolidating 4/6 portion thereof. Deeds of sale were
therefor executed with the conformity of Manuela. Despite such transfers, the latter sold the entire
property to one of the siblings, herein petitioner Raquel Chavez. Respondent sued for the
annulment of the later sale to Raquel which was denied by the trail court but which later decision
overturned by the Court of Appeals. On appeal, petitioner also contends that their mother has left
a last will and this will supercedes the earlier transfers.

ISSUE: Is partition inter-vivos, and sale based on such partition valid? Does a last will
supercede that of the partition inter-vivos?

HELD: Yes. When a person makes a partition by will, it is imperative that such partition must
be executed in accordance with the provisions of the law on wills; however, when a person makes
the partition of his estate by an act inter vivos, such partition may even be oral or written, and need
not be in the form of a will, provided that the partition does not prejudice the legitime of compulsory
heirs. xxx The Deeds of Sale are not contracts entered into with respect to future inheritance but a
contract perfected and consummated during the lifetime of Manuela Buenavista who signed the
same and gave her consent thereto. Such partition inter vivos, executed by the property owner
herself, is valid.

It would be unjust and inequitable to allow Manuela Buenavista Vda. de Chavez to revoke the
sales she herself authorized as well as the sale she herself executed in favor of her son only to
execute a simulated sale in favor of her daughter Raquel who had already profited from the sale
she made of the property she had received in the partition inter vivos.
Wills and Succession 73
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NERI v. AKUTIN

GR No.L-47799, May 21, 1943

74 PHIL 185

FACTS: This is a case where the testator Agripino Neri in his will left all his property by universal
title to the children by his second marriage, the herein respondents, with omission of the children
by his first marriage, the herein petitioner. The omission of the heirs in the will was contemplated
by the testator with the belief that he had already given each of the children portion of the
inheritance, particularly a land he had abandoned was occupied by the respondents over which
registration was denied for it turned out to be a public land, and an aggregate amount of money
which the respondents were indebted to their father.

ISSUE: Should there be cancellation of the will, in view of the omission of heirs? Is there
disinheritance in this case?

HELD: Yes. The Court annulled the institution of heirs and declared a total intestacy on the
ground that testator left all his property by universal title to the children by his second marriage,
without expressly disinheriting the children by his first marriage but upon the erroneous belief that
he had given them already more shares in his property than those given to the children by his
second marriage. Disinheritance made without a statement of the cause, if contested, shall annul
the institution of heirs in so far as it is prejudicial to the disinherited person. This is but a case of
preterition which annuls the institution of heirs.

BARANDA v. BARANDA

GR No.73275 May 20, 1987

FACTS: Paulina Baranda died without issue, but before her demise, two of her supposed heirs,
the herein respondents Evangelina and Elisa Baranda, have already taken possession of 6 parcels
of land and caused the transfer of such by virtue of questionable sales which the late widow had
also sought the reconveyance which did not however materialized. The petitioners, siblings of the
decedent, now sought the annulment of the supposed sale or transfers. Respondents question the
petitioners legal standing, them being not a party-in-interest in the deed of sale.

ISSUE: Can the petitioners impugn the validity of the sales?


Wills and Succession 74
Case Digest

HELD: This Court has repeatedly held that "the legal heirs of a decedent are the parties in
interest to commence ordinary actions arising out of the rights belonging to the deceased, without
separate judicial declaration as to their being heirs of said decedent, provided that there is no
pending special proceeding for the settlement of the decedent's estate.

There being no pending special proceeding for the settlement of Paulina Baranda's estate, the
petitioners, as her intestate heirs, had the right to sue for the reconveyance of the disputed
properties, not to them, but to the estate itself of the decedent, for distribution later in accordance
with law. Otherwise, no one else could question the simulated sales and the subjects thereof would
remain in the name of the alleged vendees, who would thus have been permitted to benefit from
their deception, In fact, even if it were assumed that those suing through attorneys-in-fact were not
properly represented, the remaining petitioners would still have sufficed to impugn the validity of
the deeds of sale.

BALAIS v. BALAIS

GR No.L-33924, March 18, 1988

159 SCRA 47

FACTS: On an action for recovery of real property filed by the respondents, spurious children
of the late Escolastico Balais who died in 1948, against the petitioners, legitimate children of the
deceased, the trial court decreed reconveyance of the portion of the property belonging to the
legitime and further declaring partition that sent 1/4 portion of the legitime to the respondents.
Petitioners come now questioning the partition and seeking the reconveyance of the 1/4 share that
went to the spurious children, relying on the provisions of the old civil code, and thereby questioning
the competence and jurisdiction of the trial court,

ISSUE: Is the court competent to decree the partition, without it being asked in the complaint?
Could the provisions of the new civil code be applied over a case which occurs prior to its effectivity?

HELD: 1. Yes. The court acquired jurisdiction by estoppel. It must be noted that, in spite of the
broad challenge the appellants present against the jurisdiction of the trial court to order the
distribution of the property, they, in reality, question only that part of the decision awarding a one-
fourth part of the property to the illegitimate children of the deceased, upon the ground that under
the old Civil Code illegitimate children other than natural enjoyed no successionary rights. They do
not contest the delivery of the estate to the deceased's widow or to themselves in the proportions
decreed by the court.

2. No. The court erred in applying the provisions of the new code. But as stated, the error of
the court notwithstanding, the case is a closed chapter, the decision having been rendered by a
court of competent jurisdiction, have become final and executory. A decision, no matter how
erroneous, becomes the law of the case between the parties upon attaining finality.
Wills and Succession 75
Case Digest

CONDE v. ABAYA

GR No.L-4275, March 23, 1909

13 PHIL 249

FACTS: Casiano Abaya died unmarried however leaving two unaknowledged children by
herein plaintiff-appellee Paula Conde. The latter, as a ascendant heir of her children, sued for the
settlement of the intestate estate of Casiano along with the acknowledgment of the two as natural
children of the deceased. The trial court, with the opposition of the defendant-appellant Roman
Abaya, brother of the deceased, rendered judgment bestowing the estate of Casiano to Conde as
legitimate heir of the decedent's natural children.

ISSUE: May the mother of a natural child now deceased, bring an action for the
acknowledgment of the natural filiation in favor of such child in order to appear in his behalf to
receive the inheritance from the deceased natural father.

HELD: The right of action that devolves upon the child to claim his legitimacy lasts during his
whole life, while the right to claim the acknowledgment of a natural child lasts only during the life of
his presumed parents. An action for the acknowledgment of a natural child may, as an exception,
be exercised against the heirs of the presumed parents in two cases: first, in the event of the death
of the latter during the minority of the child, and second, upon the discovery of some instrument of
express acknowledgment of the child, executed by the father or mother, the existence of which was
unknown during the life of the latter.

But such action for the acknowledgment of a natural child can only be exercised by him. It
cannot be transmitted to his descendants, or his ascendants.

REIRA v. PALMAROLI

GR No.14851, September 13, 1919

40 PHIL 105

FACTS: Antonia Reira, widow of Juan Pons who was at the time of the latter's death residing
at Palma de Mallorca, sought the annulment of the order of the trial court admitting the probate of
a purported will of her husband. The purported will was submitted to be admitted to probate by
respondent Consul General Palmaroli. The petitioner contends that the probate of the will, in view
of her absence, deprived her of her right to contest the original application.
Wills and Succession 76
Case Digest

ISSUE: Should the probated will yield to the rights of the decedent's heir?

HELD: Yes. A will is nothing more than a species of conveyance whereby a person is permitted,
with the formalities prescribed by law, to control in a certain degree the disposition of his property
after his death. Out of consideration for the important interests involved the execution and proof of
wills has been surrounded by numerous safeguards, among which is the provision that after death
of the testator his will may be judicially established in court. xxx The probate of a will, while
conclusive as to its due execution, in no wise involves the intrinsic validity of its provisions. If,
therefore, upon the distribution of the estate of the decedent, it should appear that any provision of
his will is contrary to the law applicable to his case, the will must necessarily yield upon that point
and the disposition made by law must prevail.

MONTINOLA v. HERBOSA

FACTS: Montinola filed an action against the heirs of Dr. Jose Rizal for recovery of possession
of personal property (the RIZAL RELICS) allegedly sold to him by Doña Trinidad Rizal. The trial
court held that neither party is entitled to the possession of such property, relying principally on the
fact that in Rizal's Mi Ultimo Adios, there is a line where Rizal bequeathed all his property to the
Filipino people. The court argued that the handwritten work of Rizal constitutes a holographic will
giving the State all his property.

ISSUE: Does Mi Ultimo Adios constitute a last will?

HELD: No. An instrument which merely expresses a last wish as a thought or advice but does
not contain a disposition of property, and executed without Animus Standi cannot be legally
considered a will. Rizal's Mi Ultimo Adios is but a literary piece of work, and was so intended. It
may be considered a will in a grammatical sense but not in a legal or juridical sense. Moreover, it
also lacks the requirements of a holographic will such as a statement of the year month and day of
its execution and his signature.

MERZA v. PORRAS

GR No.L-4888, May 25, 1953

93 PHIL 142
Wills and Succession 77
Case Digest

FACTS: Pilar Montealegre died leaving a will (Exhibit A) and a so-called codicil (Exhibit B),
disinheriting her husband Pedro Porras and some of her relatives. The two documents were
submitted to probate but were denied by the trial court, upon the grounds such as the defect of the
attestation clause on Exh. A and that Exh. cannot be considered a codicil for it was executed by
the testator a day before Exhibit A, thus it cannot be included in the probate proceedings.

ISSUE: Should a document, expressly disinheriting certain heirs, executed by the testator prior
to a supposed last will, be probated?

HELD: Yes. The trial court and the CA is correct that Exhibit B having been executed one day
before Exhibit A could not be considered as a codicil "because a codicil, as the word implies, is
only an addition to, or modification of, the will." The Court of Appeals added that "the contents of
Exhibit B are couched in the language ordinarily used in a simple affidavit and as such, may not
have the legal effect and force to a testamentary disposition."

However, Exhibit B does partake of the nature of a will. A will is defined in article 667 of the
Civil code of Spain as "the act by which a person dispose of all his property or a portion of it," and
in article 783 of the new Civil Code as "an act whereby a person is permitted, with the formalities
prescribed by law, to control to a certain degree the disposition of his estate, to take effect after his
death. Exhibit B comes within this definition.

CASTAÑEDA v. ALEMANY

GR No.1439, March 19, 1904

3 PHIL 426

FACTS: Appellant constested the validity of the will of Doña Juana Moreno upon the ground
that although the attestation clause in the will states that the testator signed the will in the presence
of three witnesses who also each signed in each presence, the will was not actually written by the
testator.

ISSUE: Is it necessary that a will be written by the testator herself?

HELD: No. Section 618 of the Civil Code requires (1) that the will be in writing and (2) either
that the testator sign it himself or, if he does not sign it, that it be signed by some one in his presence
and by his express direction. Who does the mechanical work of writing the will is a matter of
indifference. The fact, therefore, that in this case the will was typewritten in the office of the lawyer
for the testratrix is of no consequence.
Wills and Succession 78
Case Digest

MICIANO v. BRIMO

GR No.L-22595, November 1, 1927

50 PHIL 867

FACTS: Joseph Brimo, a Turkish national, died leaving a will which one of the clauses states
that the law of the Philippines shall govern the partition and not the law of his nationality, and that
legatees have to respect the will, otherwise the dispositions accruing to them shall be annulled. By
virtue of such condition, his brother, Andre Brimo, an instituted heir was thus excluded because,
by his action of having opposed the partition scheme, he did not respect the will. Andre sued
contending that the conditions are void being contrary to law which provides that the will shall be
probated according to the laws of the nationality of the decedent.

ISSUE: Is the condition as set by the testator valid?

HELD: No. A foreigner's will to the effect that his properties shall be distributed in accordance
with Philippine law and not with his national law, is illegal and void, for his national law cannot be
ignored in regard to those matters that Article 10 of the Civil Code states said national law should
govern. Said condition then, in the light of the legal provisions above cited, is considered unwritten,
and the institution of legatees in said will is unconditional and consequently valid and effective even
as to the herein oppositor.

Federico Azaola v. Cesario Singson

G.R. No. L-14003; August 5, 1960

FACTS:

When Fortunata Vda de Yance died, Francisco Azaola filed a petition for the probate of the
former’s will, whereby Maria Milgaros Azaola was made the sole heir as against the nephew of the
deceased Cesario Singson. Francisco witnessed that one month before the death of the testator,
the same was handed to him and his wife.

The opposition to the probate was on the ground that (1) the execution of the will was procured
by undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of the petitioner and his wife, and (2)
that the testatrix did not seriously intend the instrument to be her last will, and that the same was
actually written either on the 5th or 6th day of August 1957and not on November 20, 1956 as
appears on the will.
Wills and Succession 79
Case Digest

The probate was denied on the ground that under Article 811 of the Civil Code, the proponent
must present three witnesses who could declare that the will and the signature are in the writing of
the testatrix, the probate being contested.

ISSUE/S:

1. WON the proponent was bound to produce more than one witness

2. WON 811 is mandatory

HELD:

1. No. Since the authenticity of the will was not being contested. But even if the genuineness
of the holographic will were contested, we are of the opinion that Article 811 of our present Civil
Code cannot be interpreted as to require the compulsory presentation of three witnesses to identify
the handwriting of the testator, under penalty of having the probate denied. Since no witness may
have been present at the execution of a holographic will, none being required by law (Art. 810, new
Civil Code), it becomes obvious that the existence of witness possessing the requisite qualifications
is a matter beyond the control of the proponent.

It may be true that the rule of this article (requiring that three witnesses be presented if the will
is contested and only one if no contest is had) was derived from the rule established for ordinary
testaments. But it cannot be ignored that the requirement can be considered mandatory only in the
case of ordinary testaments, precisely because the presence of at least three witnesses at the
execution of ordinary wills is made by law essential to their validity (Art. 805). Where the will is
holographic, no witness need be present (Art. 10), and the rule requiring production of three
witnesses must be deemed merely permissive if absurd results are to be avoided.

Again, under Article 811, the resort to expert evidence is conditioned by the words “if the Court
deem it necessary”, which reveal that what the law deems essential is that the Court should be
convinced of the will’s authenticity. Where the prescribed number of witnesses is produced and the
court is convinced by their testimony that the ill is genuine, it may consider it unnecessary to call
for expert evidence. On the other hand, if no competent witness is available, or none of those
produced is convincing, the Court may still, and in fact it should, resort to handwriting experts. The
duty of the Court, in fine, is to exhaust all available lines of inquiry, for the state is as much interested
as the proponent that the true intention of the testator be carried into effect.

2. The rule of the first paragraph of Article 811 of the Civil Code is merely directory and is not
mandatory.

Considering, however, that this is the first occasion in which this Court has been called upon
to construe the import of said article, the interest of justice would be better served, in our opinion,
Wills and Succession 80
Case Digest

by giving the parties ample opportunity to adduce additional evidence, including expert witnesses,
should the Court deem them necessary.

Coffee Beans

FAUSTO E. GAN v. ILDEFONSO YAP

G.R. No. L-12190

August 30, 1958

FACTS:

On November 20, 1951, Felicidad Esguerra Alto Yap died of heart failure in the University of
Santo Tomas Hospital, leaving properties in Pulilan, Bulacan, and in the City of Manila.

On March 17, 1952, Fausto E. Gan initiated these proceedings in the Manila court of first
instance with a petition for the probate of a holographic will allegedly executed by the deceased.

Opposing the petition, her surviving husband Ildefonso Yap asserted that the deceased had
not left any will, nor executed any testament during her lifetime.

After hearing the parties and considering their evidence, the Hon. Ramon R. San Jose, Judge,
refused to probate the alleged will. A seventy-page motion for reconsideration failed. Hence this
appeal.

ISSUE:

WON a holographic will be probated upon the testimony of witnesses who have allegedly seen
it and who declare that it was in the handwriting of the testator?

HELD:

NO. The court ruled that the execution and the contents of a lost or destroyed holographic will
may not be proved by the bare testimony of witnesses who have seen and/or read such will. The
loss of the holographic will entails the loss of the only medium of proof. Even if oral testimony were
admissible to establish and probate a lost holographic will, we think the evidence submitted by
herein petitioner is so tainted with improbabilities and inconsistencies that it fails to measure up to
that “clear and distinct” proof required by Rule 77, sec. 6. 11.
Wills and Succession 81
Case Digest

Coffee Beans

Nera v. Rimando

G.R. No. L-5971

February 27, 1911

FACTS:

The only question raised by the evidence in this case as to the due execution of the instrument
propounded as a will in the court below, is whether one of the subscribing witnesses was present
in the small room where it was executed at the time when the testator and the other subscribing
witnesses attached their signatures; or whether at that time he was outside, some eight or ten feet
away, in a large room connecting with the smaller room by a doorway, across which was hung a
curtain which made it impossible for one in the outside room to see the testator and the other
subscribing witnesses in the act of attaching their signatures to the instrument.

ISSUE:

What is the true test of the testator’s or the witness’ presence in the signing of a will?

HELD:

The Supreme Court emphasized that the true test of presence of the testator and the witnesses
in the execution of a will is not whether they actually saw each other sign, but whether they might
have seen each other sign, had they chosen to do so, considering their mental and physical
condition and position with relation to each other at the moment of inscription of each signature.

The position of the parties with relation to each other at the moment of the subscription of each
signature, must be such that they may see each other sign if they choose to do so.

The Supreme Court, in this case, determined that all the parties were in the same small room
when each other signed. Hence, they were in each other’s presence (though the facts of the case
didn’t elaborate – the SC just ruled so). The SC ruled that if some of the witnesses were really in
the outer room (a fact which was not established according to the SC) separated by a curtain, then
the will is invalid, the attaching of those signatures under circumstances not being done “in the
presence” of the witness in the outer room.
Wills and Succession 82
Case Digest

*Citing Jaboneta v. Gustilo, the court held that “The true test of presence of the testator and
the witnesses in the execution of a will is not whether they actually saw each other sign, but whether
they might have been seen each other sign, had they chosen to do so, considering their mental
and physical condition and position with relation to each other at the moment of inscription of each
signature.”

But it is especially to be noted that the position of the parties with relation to each other at the
moment of the subscription of each signature, must be such that they may see each other sign if
they choose to do so.

The question is whether the testator and the subscribing witnesses to an alleged will signed
the instrument in the presence of each other does not depend upon proof of the fact that their eyes
were actually cast upon the paper at the moment of its subscription by each of them, but that at
that moment existing conditions and their position with relation to each other were such that by
merely casting the eyes in the proper direction they could have seen each other sign. To extend
the doctrine further would open the door to the possibility of all manner of fraud, substitution, and
the like, and would defeat the purpose for which this particular condition is prescribed in the code
as one of the requisites in the execution of a will.

Coffee Beans

Icasiano v. Icasiano

11 SCRA 422

Ponente: Dela Cuesta

FACTS:

Celso Icasiano filed a petition for the allowance and admission to probate of the alleged will of
Josefa Villacorte, and for his appointment as executor thereof. Natividad and Enrique Icasiano, a
daughter and son of the testatrix, filed their opposition thereto. During the course of the trial, on 19
March 1959, Celso, started to present his evidence. But later, on 1 June 1959, he then filed an
amended and supplemental petition, alleging that the decedent had left a will executed in duplicate
and with all the legal requirements, and that he was submitting the duplicate to the court, which he
found only on 26 May 1959. Natividad and Enrique filed their opposition, but the will and its
duplicate was admitted to probate by the trial court. Hence, this appeal by the oppositors.
Oppositors-appellants (Natividad and Enrique) in turn introduced expert testimony to the effect that
the signatures of the testatrix in the duplicate are not genuine, nor were they written or affixed on
the same occasion as the original, and further aver that granting that the documents were genuine,
they were executed through mistake and with undue influence and pressure because the testatrix
was deceived into adopting as her last will and testament the wishes of those who will stand to
benefit from the provisions of the will, as may be inferred from the facts and circumstances
surrounding the execution of the will and the provisions and dispositions thereof, whereby
proponents- appellees stand to profit from properties held by them as attorneys- in-fact of the
Wills and Succession 83
Case Digest

deceased and not enumerated or mentioned therein, while oppositors-appellants are enjoined not
to look for other properties not mentioned in the will, and not to oppose the probate of it, on penalty
of forfeiting their share in the portion of free disposal.

ISSUE:

1. Was the trial court correct in admitting the will and its duplicate to probate given the
allegations of forgery of the testator’s signature, or that the will was executed under circumstances
constituting fraud and undue influence and pressure? (Not raised by the appellants in the case but
discussed by the Court and in Sir’s book)

2. Is the failure of one of the witnesses to sign a page of the will fatal to its validity?

HELD:

The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that both the will and its duplicate are valid
in all respects.

On the allegations of forgery, fraud and undue influence:

The Court is satisfied that all the requisites for the validity of a will have been complied with.
The opinion of a handwriting expert trying to prove forgery of the testatrix’s signature failed to
convince the Court, not only because it is directly contradicted by another expert but principally
because of the paucity of the standards used by him (only three other signatures), considering the
advanced age of the testatrix, the evident variability of her signature, and the effect of writing
fatigue.

Similarly, the alleged slight variance in blueness of the ink in the admitted and questioned
signatures does not appear reliable, considering that standard and challenged writings were affixed
to different kinds of paper, with different surfaces and reflecting power. On the whole, the testimony
of the oppositor’s expert is insufficient to overcome that of the notary and the two instrumental
witnesses as to the will’s execution, which were presented by Celso during the trial.

Nor is there adequate evidence of fraud or undue influence. The fact that some heirs are more
favored than others is proof of neither. Diversity of apportionment is the usual reason for making a
testament; otherwise, the decedent might as well die intestate. The testamentary disposition that
the heirs should not inquire into other property and that they should respect the distribution made
in the will, under penalty of forfeiture of their shares in the free part, do not suffice to prove fraud or
undue influence. They appear motivated by the desire to prevent prolonged litigation which, as
shown by ordinary experience, often results in a sizeable portion of the estate being diverted into
the hands of non- heirs and speculators. Whether these clauses are valid or not is a matter to be
litigated on another occasion. It is also well to note that fraud and undue influence are mutually
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repugnant and exclude each other; their joining as grounds for opposing probate shows absence
of definite evidence against the validity of the will.

On the failure of a witness to sign a page in the original, but signed all pages in the duplicate:

The records show that the original of the will consists of five pages, and while signed at the
end and in every page, it does not contain the signature of one of the attesting witnesses, Atty.
Jose V. Natividad, on page 3 thereof; but the duplicate copy attached to the amended and
supplemental petition is signed by the testatrix and her three attesting witnesses in each and every
page.

Witness Atty. Natividad, who testified on his failure to sign page 3 of the original, admits that
he may have lifted two pages instead of one when he signed the same, but affirmed that page 3
was signed in his presence.

The failure Atty. Natividad to sign page three (3) was entirely through pure oversight is shown
by his own testimony as well as by the duplicate copy of the will, which bears a complete set of
signatures in every page. The text of the attestation clause and the acknowledgment before the
Notary Public likewise evidence that no one was aware of the defect at the time. Therefore, Atty.
Natividad’s failure to sign page 3 of the original through mere inadvertence does not affect the will’s
validity.

Impossibility of substitution of this page is assured not only the fact that the testatrix and two
other witnesses did sign the defective page, but also by its bearing the coincident imprint of the
seal of the notary public before whom the testament was ratified by testatrix and all three witnesses.
The law should not be so strictly and literally interpreted as to penalize the testatrix on account of
the inadvertence of a single witness over whose conduct she had no control, where the purpose of
the law to guarantee the identity of the testament and its component pages is sufficiently attained,
no intentional or deliberate deviation existed, and the evidence on record attests to the full
observance of the statutory requisites.

This would not be the first time that this Court departs from a strict and literal application of the
statutory requirements, where the purposes of the law are otherwise satisfied. Thus, despite the
literal tenor of the law, this Court has held that a testament, with the only page signed at its foot by
testator and witnesses, but not in the left margin, could nevertheless be probated (Abangan vs.
Abangan, 41 Phil. 476); and that despite the requirement for the correlative lettering of the pages
of a will, the failure to mark the first page either by letters or numbers is not a fatal defect (Lopez
vs. Liboro, 81 Phil. 429). These precedents exemplify the Court’s policy to require satisfaction of
the legal requirements in order to guard against fraud and bad faith but without undue or
unnecessary curtailment of the testamentary privilege.

The appellants also argue that since the original of the will is in existence and available, the
duplicate is not entitled to probate. Since they opposed probate of the original because it lacked
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one signature in its third page, it is easily discerned that oppositor’s appellants run here into a
dilemma: if the original is defective and invalid, then in law there is no other will but the duly signed
carbon duplicate, and the same is probatable. If the original is valid and can be probated, then the
objection to the signed duplicate need not be considered, being superfluous and irrelevant. At any
rate, said duplicate serves to prove that the omission of one signature in the third page of the
original testament was inadvertent and not intentional.

2. Witnesses must sign each and every page, except the last, on the left margin.

• Witnesses may sign anywhere as long as they sign

• In the will submitted for probate, one page was not signed by one of the witnesses. Such
failure to sign was due to inadvertence since in the copy, all pages were signed. The SC held that
this was not a fatal defect. Considering the circumstances, the fact that the other requirement was
complied with, and the notarial seal coincided w/ the third page during the sealing, then the will
could be probated. Unusual circumstances w/c existed in the case:

(1) there was another copy

(2) inadvertence/ oversight

(3) because of the notarial seal.

• The presence of these facts led the SC to allow the will.

• The general rule, however, is that, the failure to sign any page is a fatal defect.

The prevailing policy is to require satisfaction of the legal requirements in order to guard against
fraud and bad faith but without undue or unnecessary curtailment of testamentary privilege.

Coffee Beans

GARCIA v. LACUESTA, ET AL

FACTS:

A will was executed by Antero Mercado wherein it appears that it was signed by Atty. Florentino
Javiwe who wrote the name of Antero. The testator was alleged to have written a cross immediately
after his name. The Court of First Instance found that the will was valid but the Court of Appeals
reversed the lower court’s decision holding that the attestation clause failed: 1) to certify that the
will was signed on all the left margins of the three pages and at the end of the will by Atty. Javier at
the express request of the testator in the presence of the testator and each and every one of the
witnesses; 2) to certify that after the signing of the name of the testator by Atty. Javier at the former’s
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request said testator has written a cross at the end of his name and on the left margin of the three
pages of which the will consists and at the end thereof 3) to certify that the witnesses signed the
will in all the pages thereon in the presence of the testator and of each other. Hence, this appeal.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the attestation clause is valid.

HELD:

The attestation clause is fatally defective for failing to state that Antero Mercado caused Atty.
Javier to write the testator’s name under his express direction, as required by section 168 of the
Code of Civil Procedure. It is not here pretended that the cross appearing on the will is the usual
signature of Antero Mercado or even one of the ways by which he signed his name. After mature
reflection, the SC is not prepared to liken the mere sign of the cross to a thumbmark and the reason
is obvious. The cross cannot and does not have the trustworthiness of a thumbmark.

Coffee Beans

AZUELA v. COURT OF APPEALS

A will whose attestation clause does not contain the number of pages on which the will is written
is fatally defective. A will whose attestation clause is not signed by the instrumental witnesses is
fatally defective. And perhaps most importantly, a will which does not contain an acknowledgment,
but a mere jurat, is fatally defective. Any one of these defects is sufficient to deny probate. A notarial
will with all three defects is just aching for judicial rejection.

FACTS:

Felix Azuela filed a petition with the trial court for the probate of a notarial will purportedly
executed by Eugenia E. Igsolo on June 10, 1981 and notarized on the same day. The will consisted
of two (2) pages and was written in Filipino. The attestation clause did not state the number of
pages and it was not signed by the attesting witnesses at the bottom thereof. The said witnesses
affixed their signatures on the left-hand margin of both pages of the will though. Geralda Castillo
opposed the petition, claiming that the will was a forgery. She also argued that the will was not
executed and attested to in accordance with law. She pointed out that the decedent’s signature did
not appear on the second page of the will, and the will was not properly acknowledged.

The trial court held the will to be authentic and to have been executed in accordance with law
and, thus, admitted it to probate, calling to fore “the modern tendency in respect to the formalities
in the execution of a will…with the end in view of giving the testator more freedom in expressing
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his last wishes.” According to the trial court, the declaration at the end of the will under the sub-title,
“Patunay Ng Mga Saksi,” comprised the attestation clause and the acknowledgement, and was a
substantial compliance with the requirements of the law. It also held that the signing by the
subscribing witnesses on the left margin of the second page of the will containing the attestation
clause and acknowledgment, instead of at the bottom thereof, substantially satisfied the purpose
of identification and attestation of the will. The Court of Appeals, however, reversed the trial court’s
decision and ordered the dismissal of the petition for probate. It noted that the attestation clause
failed to state the number of pages used in the will, thus rendering the will void and undeserving of
probate.

Azuela argues that the requirement under Article 805 of the Civil Code that “the number of
pages used in a notarial will be stated in the attestation clause” is merely directory, rather than
mandatory, and thus susceptible to what he termed as “the substantial compliance rule.”

ISSUE:

Whether or not the subject will complied with the requirements of the law and, hence, should
be admitted to probate.

HELD:

The petition is DENIED.

A will whose attestation clause does not contain the number of pages on which the will is written
is fatally defective. A will whose attestation clause is not signed by the instrumental witnesses is
fatally defective. And perhaps most importantly, a will which does not contain an acknowledgment,
but a mere jurat, is fatally defective. Any one of these defects is sufficient to deny probate. A notarial
will with all three defects is just aching for judicial rejection.

Prior to the New Civil Code, the statutory provision governing the formal requirements of wills
was Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Extant therefrom is the requirement that the
attestation state the number of pages of the will. The enactment of the New Civil Code put in force
a rule of interpretation of the requirements of wills, at least insofar as the attestation clause is
concerned, that may vary from the philosophy that governed the said Section 618. Article 809 of
the Civil Code, the Code Commission opted to recommend a more liberal construction through the
“substantial compliance rule.” However, Justice J.B.L. Reyes cautioned that the rule “must be
limited to disregarding those defects that can be supplied by an examination of the will itself:
whether all the pages are consecutively numbered; whether the signatures appear in each and
every page; whether the subscribing witnesses are three or the will was notarized…But the total
number of pages, and whether all persons required to sign did so in the presence of each other
must substantially appear in the attestation clause, being the only check against perjury in the
probate proceedings.” The Court suggested in Caneda v. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 103554, May
28, 1993, 222 SCRA 781): “the rule, as it now stands, is that omission which can be supplied by
an examination of the will itself, without the need of resorting to extrinsic evidence, will not be fatal
and, correspondingly, would not obstruct the allowance to probate of the will being assailed.
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However, those omissions which cannot be supplied except by evidence aliunde would result
in the invalidation of the attestation clause and ultimately, of the will itself.”

The failure of the attestation clause to state the number of pages on which the will was written
remains a fatal flaw, despite Art. 809. This requirement aims at safeguarding the will against
possible interpolation or omission of one or some of its pages and thus preventing any increase or
decrease in the pages. Following Caneda, there is substantial compliance with this requirement if
the will states elsewhere in it how many pages it is comprised of, as was the situation in Singson
and Taboada. In this case, however, there could have been no substantial compliance with the
requirements under Art. 805 of the Civil Code since there is no statement in the attestation clause
or anywhere in the will itself as to the number of pages which comprise the will. There was an
incomplete attempt to comply with this requisite, a space having been allotted for the insertion of
the number of pages in the attestation clause. Yet the blank was never filled in.

The subject will cannot be considered to have been validly attested to by the instrumental
witnesses. While the signatures of the instrumental witnesses appear on the left-hand margin of
the will, they do not appear at the bottom of the attestation clause. Art. 805 particularly segregates
the requirement that the instrumental witnesses sign each page of the will, from the requisite that
the will be attested and subscribed by them. The signatures on the left-hand corner of every page
signify, among others, that the witnesses are aware that the page they are signing forms part of
the will. On the other hand, the signatures to the attestation clause establish that the witnesses are
referring to the statements contained in the attestation clause itself. An unsigned attestation clause
results in an unattested will. Even if the instrumental witnesses signed the left-hand margin of the
page containing the unsigned attestation clause, such signatures cannot demonstrate these
witnesses’ undertakings in the clause, since the signatures that do appear on the page were
directed towards a wholly different avowal.

The notary public who notarized the subject will wrote, “Nilagdaan ko at ninotario ko ngayong
10 ng Hunyo 10 (sic), 1981 dito sa Lungsod ng Maynila.” By no manner of contemplation can these
words be construed as an acknowledgment. An acknowledgment is the act of one who has
executed a deed in going before some competent officer or court and declaring it to be his act or
deed. It might be possible to construe the averment as a jurat, even though it does not follow to the
usual language thereof. A jurat is that part of an affidavit where the notary certifies that before
him/her, the document was subscribed and sworn to by the executor.

It may not have been said before, but a notarial will that is not acknowledged before a notary
public by the testator and the witnesses is fatally defective, even if it is subscribed and sworn to
before a notary public. The importance of the requirement of acknowledgment is highlighted by the
fact that it had been segregated from the other requirements under Art. 805 and entrusted into a
separate provision, Art. 806. The express requirement of Art. 806 is that the will be “acknowledged”,
and not merely subscribed and sworn to. The acknowledgment coerces the testator and the
instrumental witnesses to declare before an officer of the law that they had executed and
subscribed to the will as their own free act or deed. Such declaration is under oath and under pain
of perjury, thus allowing for the criminal prosecution of persons who participate in the execution of
spurious wills, or those executed without the free consent of the testator. It also provides a further
degree of assurance that the testator is of certain mindset in making the testamentary dispositions
to those persons he/she had designated in the will.

DEFECTS:
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(1) AC did not state number of pages

(2) Witnesses did not sign the AC

(3) No acknowledgment by a notary

(4) No signature of the testator in each and every page

(5) Pages were not numbered consecutively

Dela Merced v. Dela Merced

303 SCRA 683, February 25, 1999

Re: Transmission/Acquisition through Death

Facts:

On March 23, 1987, Evarista M. dela Merced died intestate, without issue. She left five (5)
parcels of land. At the time of her death, Evarista was survived by three sets of heirs, viz: (1)
Francisco M. dela Merced, her legitimate brother; survived by his wife Blanquita Errea dela Merced
and their three legitimate children; (2) Teresita P. Rupisan, her niece who is the only daughter of
Rosa de la Merced-Platon (a sister who died in 1943); and (3) the legitimate children of Eugenia
dela Merced-Adriano (another sister of Evarista who died in 1965).

On April 20, 1989, the three sets of heirs of the decedent, Evarista M. dela Merced
executed an extrajudicial settlement adjudicating the properties of Evarista to them, each set with
a share of one-third (1/3) pro-indiviso.

On July 26 ,1990, private respondent Joselito P. Dela Merced , illegitimate son of the
late Francisco de la Merced, filed a Petition for Annulment of the Extrajudicial Settlement alleging
that he was fraudulently omitted from the said settlement made by petitioners, who were fully aware
of his relation to the late Francisco. Claiming successional rights, private respondent Joselito
prayed that he be included as one of the beneficiaries, to share in the one-third (1/3) pro-indiviso
share in the estate of the deceased Evarista, corresponding to the heirs of Francisco.

In the Petition under consideration, petitioners insist that being an illegitimate child,
private respondent Joselito is barred from inheriting from Evarista because of the provision of
Article 992 of the New Civil Code, which lays down an impassable barrier between the legitimate
and illegitimate families.

Issue:

Whether or not the illegitimate child is barred from inheriting from the deceased?
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Ruling:

Article 992 of the New Civil Code is not applicable because involved here is not a
situation where an illegitimate child would inherit ab intestato from a legitimate sister of his father,
which is prohibited by the aforesaid provision of law. Rather, it is a scenario where an illegitimate
child inherits from his father, the latter's share in or portion of, what the latter already inherited from
the deceased sister, Evarista.

As opined by the Court of Appeals, the law in point in the present case is Article 777 of
the New Civil Code, which provides that the rights to succession are transmitted from the moment
of death of the decedent. Since Evarista died ahead of her brother Francisco, the latter inherited a
portion of the estate of the former as one of her heirs. Subsequently, when Francisco died, his
heirs, namely: his spouse, legitimate children, and the private respondent, Joselito, an illegitimate
child, inherited his (Francisco's) share in the estate of Evarista. It bears stressing that Joselito does
not claim to be an heir of Evarista by right of representation but participates in his own right, as an
heir of the late Francisco, in the latter's share (or portion thereof) in the estate of Evarista. There is
no legal obstacle for private respondent Joselito, admittedly the son of the late Francisco, to inherit
in his own right as an heir to his father's estate, which estate includes a one-third (1/3) undivided
share in the estate of Evarista.

Opulencia v. Court of Appeals

G.R. No. 125853, July 30, 1998

Facts:

A complaint for specific performance filed with the court a quo, herein private
respondents, Aladin Simundac and Miguel Oliven alleged that petitioner Natalia Carpena
Opulencia executed in their favor a contract to sell Lot 2125 that plaintiffs paid a downpayment of
P300, 000.00 but defendant, despite demands, failed to comply with her obligations under the
contract.

Petitioner admitted the execution of the contract in favor of plaintiffs and receipt of P300,000.00
as down payment. However, she put forward the following affirmative defenses: that the property
subject of the contract formed part of the Estate of Demetrio Carpena (petitioner's father), in respect
of which a petition for probate was filed with the Regional Trial Court. At the time the contract was
executed, the parties were aware of the pendency of the probate proceeding; that the contract to
sell was not approved by the probate court; that realizing the nullity of the contract petitioner had
offered to return the down payment received from private respondents, but the latter refused to
accept it. She further argued that the contract was subject to a suspensive condition, which was
the probate of the will of defendant's father Demetrio Carpena.
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Issue:

Is a contract to sell a real property involved in testate proceedings valid and binding without the
approval of the probate court?

Ruling:

In a nutshell, petitioner contends that "where the estate of the deceased person is
already the subject of a testate or intestate proceeding, the administrator cannot enter into any
transaction involving it without prior approval of the Probate Court." She maintains that the Contract
to sell is void because it was not approved by the probate court, as required by Section 7, Rule 89
of the Rules of Court:

SEC. 7. Regulations for granting authority to sell, mortgage, or otherwise encumber estate.
The court having jurisdiction of the estate of the deceased may authorize the executor or
administrator to sell, mortgage, or otherwise encumber real estate, in cases provided by these rules
and when it appears necessary or beneficial, under the following regulations.

As correctly ruled by the Court of Appeals, Section 7 of Rule 89 of the Rules of Court is not
applicable, because petitioner entered into the Contract to Sell in her capacity as an heiress, not
as an executrix or administratrix of the estate.

In the contract, she represented herself as the "lawful owner" and seller of the subject parcel
of land. She also explained the reason for the sale to be "difficulties in her living" conditions and
consequent "need of cash." These representations clearly evince that she was not acting on behalf
of the estate under probate when she entered into the Contract to Sell.

Hereditary rights are vested in the heir or heirs from the moment of the decedent's death.
Petitioner, therefore, became the owner of her hereditary share the moment her father died. Thus,
the lack of judicial approval does not invalidate the Contract to sell, because the petitioner has the
substantive right to sell the whole or a part of her share in the estate of her late father.

The possession of hereditary property is deemed to be transmitted to the heir without


interruption from the instant of the death of the decedent, in case the inheritance is accepted.' And
Manresa with reason states that upon the death of a person, each of his heirs 'becomes the
undivided owner of the whole estate left with respect to the part or portion which might be
adjudicated to him, a community of ownership being thus formed among the co-owners of the
estate while it remains undivided. Every part owner may assign or mortgage his part in the common
property, and the effect of such assignment or mortgage shall be limited to the portion which may
be allotted him in the partition upon the dissolution of the community.
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Hence, where some of the heirs, without the concurrence of the others, sold a property left by
their deceased father, the sale is valid, but that the effect thereof was limited to the share which
may be allotted to the vendors upon the partition of the estate.

The Contract to Sell stipulates that petitioner's offer to sell is contingent on the "complete
clearance of the court on the Last Will Testament of her father." Consequently, although the
Contract to Sell was perfected between the petitioner and private respondents during the pendency
of the probate proceedings, the consummation of the sale or the transfer of ownership over the
parcel of land to the private respondents is subject to the full payment of the purchase price and to
the termination and outcome of the testate proceedings. Therefore, there is no basis for petitioner's
apprehension that the Contract to Sell may result in a premature partition and distribution of the
properties of the estate. Indeed, it is settled that "the sale made by an heir of his share in an
inheritance, subject to the pending administration, in no wise stands in the way of such
administration."

Finally, petitioner is estopped from backing out of her representations in her valid Contract to
sell with private respondents, from whom she had already received P300, 000 as initial payment of
the purchase price. Petitioner may not renege on her own acts and representations, to the prejudice
of the private respondents who have relied on them.

Coronel v. Court of Appeals

G.R. No. 103577, October 7, 1996

Facts:

On January 19, 1985, defendants-appellants Romulo Coronel, et al. executed a


document entitled "Receipt of Down Payment" in favor of plaintiff Ramona Patricia Alcaraz. The
stipulation reads:

We bind ourselves to effect the transfer in our names from our deceased father, Constancio P.
Coronel, the transfer certificate of title immediately upon receipt of the down payment above-stated.
On our presentation of the TCT already in or name, We will immediately execute the deed of
absolute sale of said property and Miss Ramona Patricia Alcaraz shall immediately pay the balance
of the P1,190,000.00.

On February 6, 1985, the property originally registered in the name of the Coronels' father was
transferred in their names under TCT No. 327043. On February 18, 1985, the Coronels sold the
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property to intervenor-appellant Catalina B. Mabanag for One Million Five Hundred Eighty
Thousand (P1,580,000.00).

For this reason, Coronels canceled and rescinded the contract with Ramona by depositing the
down payment paid by Concepcion in the bank in trust for Ramona Patricia Alcaraz. On April 25,
1985, the Coronels executed a Deed of Absolute Sale over the subject property in favor of Catalina.
On June 5, 1985, a new title over the subject property was issued in the name of Catalina.

Issue:

Whether the Receipt of down payment embodied a contract of sale?

Whether or not petitioners are the absolute owners of the property?

Ruling:

We hold that the contract between the petitioner and the respondent was a contract to
sell where the ownership or title is retained by the seller and is not to pass until the full payment of
the price, such payment being a positive suspensive condition and failure of which is not a breach,
casual or serious, but simply an event that prevented the obligation of the vendor to convey title
from acquiring binding force.

Petitioners-sellers in the case at bar being the sons and daughters of the decedent
Constancio P. Coronel are compulsory heirs who were called to succession by operation of law.
Thus, at the point their father drew his last breath, petitioners stepped into his shoes insofar as the
subject property is concerned, such that any rights or obligations pertaining thereto became binding
and enforceable upon them. It is expressly provided that rights to the succession are transmitted
from the moment of death of the decedent.

Be it also noted that petitioners' claim that succession may not be declared unless the creditors
have been paid is rendered moot by the fact that they were able to effect the transfer of the title to
the property from the decedent's name to their names on February 6, 1985.

Aside from this, petitioners are precluded from raising their supposed lack of capacity to enter
into an agreement at that time and they cannot be allowed to now take a posture contrary to that
which they took when they entered into the agreement with private respondent Ramona P. Alcaraz.
Having represented themselves as the true owners of the subject property at the time of sale,
petitioners cannot claim now that they were not yet the absolute owners thereof at that time.
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Paulmitan v. Court of Appeals

G.R. No. 61584, 215 SCRA 866

Facts:

Agatona Sagario Paulmitan, who died sometime in 1953, left Lot No. 1091 with an area of
69,080 square meters. She begot two legitimate children, namely: Pascual Paulmitan, who also
died in 1953, and Donato Paulmitan, who is one of the petitioners. Petitioner Juliana P. Fanesa is
Donato's daughter while the third petitioner, Rodolfo Donato executed on May 28, 1974 a Deed of
Sale over the same in favor of petitioner Juliana P. Fanesa, his daughter. Sometime in 1952, for
non-payment of taxes, Lot No. 1091 was forfeited and sold at a public auction, with the Provincial
Government of Negros Occidental being the buyer. On May 29, 1974, Juliana P. Fanesa redeemed
the property from the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental for the amount of P2,959.09.

On learning of these transactions, respondents children of the late Pascual Paulmitan filed on
January 18, 1975 with the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental a Complaint against
petitioners to partition the properties plus damages. Petitioner Juliana P. Fanesa claimed that she
acquired exclusive ownership thereof not only by means of a deed of sale executed in her favor by
her father, petitioner Donato Paulmitan, but also by way of redemption from the Provincial
Government of Negros Occidental.

Issue:

Whether or not Juliana acquired full ownership over the subject lot

May a co-owner acquire exclusive ownership over the property held in common?

Ruling:

When Pascual Paulmitan died intestate in 1953, his children, the respondents, succeeded him
in the co-ownership of the disputed property. Pascual Paulmitan's right of ownership over an
undivided portion of the property passed on to his children, who, from the time of Pascual's death,
became co-owners with their uncle Donato over the disputed decedent estate. When Donato
Paulmitan sold on May 28, 1974 Lot No. 1091 to his daughter Juliana P. Fanesa, he was only a
co-owner with respondents and as such, he could only sell that portion which may be allotted to
him upon termination of the co-ownership. The sale did not prejudice the rights of respondents to
one half (1/2) undivided share of the land which they inherited from their father. It did not vest
ownership in the entire land with the buyer but transferred only the seller's pro-indiviso share in the
property and consequently made the buyer a co-owner of the land until it is partitioned.

The sale by petitioner Donato Paulmitan of the land to his daughter, petitioner Juliana P.
Fanesa, did not give to the latter ownership over the entire land but merely transferred to her the
one half (1/2) undivided share of her father, thus making her the co-owner of the land in question
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with the respondents, her first cousins. The redemption of the land made by Fanesa did not
terminate the co-ownership nor give her title to the entire land subject of the co-ownership.

The right of repurchase may be exercised by co-owner with respect to his share alone. While
the records show that petitioner redeemed the property in its entirety, shouldering the expenses
therefor, that did not make him the owner of all of it. In other words, it did not put to end the existing
state of co-ownership. There is no doubt that redemption of property entails a necessary expense.
The result is that the property remains to be in a condition of co-ownership. While a vendee a retro,
under Article 1613 of the Code, "may not be compelled to consent to a partial redemption," the
redemption by one co-heir or co-owner of the property in its totality does not vest in him ownership
over it. Failure on the part of all the co-owners to redeem it entitles the vendee a retro to retain the
property and consolidate title thereto in his name. But the provision does not give to the redeeming
co-owner the right to the entire property. It does not provide for a mode of terminating a co-
ownership.

Although petitioner Fanesa did not acquire ownership over the entire lot by virtue of the
redemption she made, nevertheless, she did acquire the right to reimbursed for half of the
redemption price she paid to the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental on behalf of her co-
owners. Until reimbursed, Fanesa hold a lien upon the subject property for the amount due her.

Rioferio v. Court of Appeals

G.R. No. 129008. January 13, 2004

Facts:

On May 13, 1995, Alfonso P. Orfinada, Jr. died without a will in Angeles City leaving several
personal and real properties located in Angeles City, Dagupan City and Kalookan City. He also left
a widow, respondent Esperanza P. Orfinada, whom he married on July 11, 1960 and with whom
he had seven children who are the herein respondents. Apart from the respondents, the demise of
the decedent left in mourning his paramour and their children. They are petitioner Teodora Riofero,
who became a part of his life when he entered into an extra-marital relationship with her during the
subsistence of his marriage to Esperanza sometime in 1965, and co-petitioners Veronica, Alberto
and Rowena.

On November 14, 1995, respondents Alfonso James and Lourdes Orfinada discovered that on
June 29, 1995, petitioner Teodora Rioferio and her children executed an Extrajudicial Settlement
of Estate of a Deceased Person with Quitclaim involving the properties of the estate of the decedent
located in Dagupan City. Respondents also found out that petitioners were able to obtain a loan of
P700,000.00 from the Rural Bank of Mangaldan Inc. by executing a Real Estate Mortgage over the
properties subject of the extra-judicial settlement. On December 4, 1995, respondents filed a
Complaint for the Annulment/Rescission of Extra Judicial Settlement of Estate of a Deceased
Person with Quitclaim, Real Estate Mortgage and Cancellation of Transfer Certificate of Titles
before the Regional Trial Court of Dagupan City.
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On February 5, 1996, petitioners filed their Answer interposing the defense that the property
subject of the contested deed of extra-judicial settlement pertained to the properties originally
belonging to the parents of Teodora Riofero and that the titles thereof were delivered to her as an
advance inheritance but the decedent had managed to register them in his name. Petitioners also
raised the affirmative defense that respondents are not the real parties-in-interest but rather the
Estate of Alfonso O. Orfinada, Jr. in view of the pendency of the administration proceedings. On
April 29, 1996, petitioners filed a Motion to Set Affirmative Defenses for Hearing on the aforesaid
ground.

Issue:

Whether the heirs have legal standing to prosecute the rights belonging to the deceased
subsequent to the commencement of the administration proceedings

Ruling:

Pending the filing of administration proceedings, the heirs without doubt have legal personality
to bring suit in behalf of the estate of the decedent in accordance with the provision of Article 777
of the New Civil Code "that (t)he rights to succession are transmitted from the moment of the death
of the decedent." The provision in turn is the foundation of the principle that the property, rights and
obligations to the extent and value of the inheritance of a person are transmitted through his death
to another or others by his will or by operation of law.

Even if administration proceedings have already been commenced, the heirs may still bring the
suit if an administrator has not yet been appointed. This is the proper modality despite the total lack
of advertence to the heirs in the rules on party representation.

While permitting an executor or administrator to represent or to bring suits on behalf of the


deceased, do not prohibit the heirs from representing the deceased. These rules are easily
applicable to cases in which an administrator has already been appointed. But no rule categorically
addresses the situation in which special proceedings for the settlement of an estate have already
been instituted, yet no administrator has been appointed. In such instances, the heirs cannot be
expected to wait for the appointment of an administrator; then wait further to see if the administrator
appointed would care enough to file a suit to protect the rights and the interests of the deceased;
and in the meantime do nothing while the rights and the properties of the decedent are violated or
dissipated.

Even if there is an appointed administrator, jurisprudence recognizes two exceptions, viz: (1) if
the executor or administrator is unwilling or refuses to bring suit; and (2) when the administrator is
alleged to have participated in the act complained of31 and he is made a party defendant. Evidently,
the necessity for the heirs to seek judicial relief to recover property of the estate is as compelling
when there is no appointed administrator, if not more, as where there is an appointed administrator
but he is either disinclined to bring suit or is one of the guilty parties himself.
Wills and Succession 97
Case Digest

Therefore, the rule that the heirs have no legal standing to sue for the recovery of property of
the estate during the pendency of administration proceedings has three exceptions, the third being
when there is no appointed administrator such as in this case.

Emnace v. Court of Appeals

G.R. No. 126334. November 23, 2001

Facts:

Petitioner Emilio Emnace, Vicente Tabanao and Jacinto Divinagracia were partners in a
business concern known as Ma. Nelma Fishing Industry. Sometime in January of 1986, they
decided to dissolve their partnership and executed an agreement of partition and distribution of the
partnership properties. Throughout the existence of the partnership, and even after Vicente
Tabanao's untimely demise in 1994, petitioner failed to submit to Tabanao's heirs any statement of
assets and liabilities of the partnership, and to render an accounting of the partnership's finances.
Petitioner also reneged on his promise to turn over to Tabanao's heirs the deceased's 1/3 share in
the total assets of the partnership, amounting to P30,000,000.00, or the sum of P10,000,000.00,
despite formal demand for payment thereof. Consequently, Tabanao’s heirs, respondents herein,
filed against petitioner an action for accounting, payment of shares, division of assets and
damages.

Petitioner filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the grounds of improper venue, lack of
jurisdiction over the nature of the action or suit, and lack of capacity of the estate of Tabanao to
sue. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss. It held that venue was properly laid because,
while realties were involved, the action was directed against a particular person on the basis of his
personal liability; hence, the action is not only a personal action but also an action in personam.

As regards petitioner's argument of lack of jurisdiction over the action because the prescribed
docket fee was not paid considering the huge amount involved in the claim, the trial court noted
that a request for accounting was made in order that the exact value of the partnership may be
ascertained and, thus, the correct docket fee may be paid. Finally, the trial court held that the heirs
of Tabanao had a right to sue in their own names, in view of the provision of Article 777 of the Civil
Code, which states that the rights to the succession are transmitted from the moment of the death
of the decedent.

Issue:

Whether the heirs of Vicente has the capacity to sue in the case

Ruling:
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Case Digest

Petitioner asserts that the surviving spouse of Vicente Tabanao has no legal capacity to sue
since she was never appointed as administratrix or executrix of his estate. Petitioner's objection in
this regard is misplaced.

The surviving spouse of Vicente does not need to be appointed as executrix or administratrix
of the estate before she can file the action. She and her children are complainants in their own right
as successors of Vicente Tabanao. From the very moment of Vicente Tabanao' s death, his rights
insofar as the partnership was concerned were transmitted to his heirs, for rights to the succession
are transmitted from the moment of death of the decedent.

Whatever claims and rights Vicente Tabanao had against the partnership and petitioner were
transmitted to respondents by operation of law, more particularly by succession, which is a mode
of acquisition by virtue of which the property, rights and obligations to the extent of the value of the
inheritance of a person are transmitted. Moreover, respondents became owners of their respective
hereditary shares from the moment Vicente Tabanao died.

A prior settlement of the estate, or even the appointment of Salvacion Tabanao as executrix or
administratrix, is not necessary for any of the heirs to acquire legal capacity to sue. As successors
who stepped into the shoes of their decedent upon his death, they can commence any action
originally pertaining to the decedent.35 From the moment of his death, his rights as a partner and
to demand fulfillment of petitioner's obligations as outlined in their dissolution agreement were
transmitted to respondents. They, therefore, had the capacity to sue and seek the court's
intervention to compel petitioner to fulfill his obligations.