SEANGIO v. REYES AZCUNA, J.

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 petitioner Dy Yieng Seangio. Petitioners Dy Yieng, Barbara and Virginia, all surnamed Seangio, opposed the petition. They contended that Segundo left a holographic will disinheriting one of the private respondents, Alfredo Seangio, for cause. In view of the purported holographic will, petitioners averred that in the event the decedent is found to have left a will, the intestate proceedings are to be automatically suspended and replaced by the proceedings for the probate of the will. Then, a petition for the probate of the holographic will of Segundo was filed by petitioners. SP. Proc. No. 98–90870 and SP. Proc. No. 99–93396 were consolidated. Private respondents moved for the dismissal of the probate proceedings primarily 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. According to private respondents, the will only shows an alleged act of disinheritance by the decedent of his eldest son, Alfredo, and nothing else; that all other compulsory heirs were not named nor instituted as heir, devisee or legatee, hence, there is preterition which would result to intestacy. RTC dismissed the petition for probate proceedings: A perusal of the document termed as “will” clearly shows that there is preterition, as the only heirs mentioned thereat are Alfredo and Virginia. [T]he other heirs being omitted, Article 854 of the New Civil Code thus applies. As such, this Court is bound to dismiss this petition, for to do otherwise would amount to an abuse of discretion. The Supreme Court in the case of Acain v. Intermediate Appellate Court has made its position clear: “for … respondents to have tolerated the probate of the will and allowed the case to progress when, on its face, the will appears to be intrinsically void … would have been an exercise in futility. It would have meant a waste of time, effort, expense, plus added futility. The trial court could have denied its probate outright or could have passed upon the intrinsic validity of the testamentary provisions before the extrinsic validity of the will was resolved. Issues/Held/Ratio: 1. Whether the document executed by Segundo can be considered as a holographic will. YES A holographic will, as provided under Article 810 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 not be witnessed. Segundo’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 Segundo 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. Moreover, it is a fundamental principle that the intent or the will of the testator, expressed in the form and within the limits prescribed by law, must be recognized as the supreme law in succession. All rules of construction are designed to ascertain and give effect to that intention. It is only when the intention of the testator is contrary to law, morals, or public policy that it cannot be given effect. Holographic wills, therefore, being usually prepared by one who is not learned in the law, as illustrated in the present case, should be construed more liberally than the ones drawn by an expert, taking into account the circumstances surrounding the execution of the instrument and the intention of the testator. In this regard, the Court is convinced that the document, even if captioned as Kasulatan ng Pag-Aalis ng Mana, was intended by Segundo to be his last testamentary act and was executed by him in accordance with law in the form of a holographic will. Unless the will is probated, the disinheritance cannot be given effect. 2. Was there preterition? NO. With regard to the issue on preterition, the Court believes that the compulsory heirs in the direct line were not preterited in the will. It was, in the Court’s opinion, Segundo’s last expression to bequeath his estate to all his compulsory heirs, with the sole exception of Alfredo. Also, Segundo did not institute an heirto the exclusion of his other compulsory heirs. The mere mention of the name of one of the petitioners, Virginia, in the document did not operate to institute her as the universal heir. Her name was included plainly as a witness to the altercation between Segundo and his son, Alfredo.

the trial court. Article 838 of the Civil Code provides that no will shall pass either real or personal property unless it is proved and allowed in accordance with the Rules of Court. In view of the foregoing.Considering that the questioned document is Segundo’s holographic will. the right of a person to dispose of his property may be rendered nugatory. therefore. It is settled that testate proceedings for the settlement of the estate of the decedent take precedence over intestate proceedings for the same purpose. Thus. unless the will is probated. should have allowed the holographic will to be probated. . the probate of the will cannot be dispensed with. and that the law favors testacy over intestacy.

He reasoned that he no longer changed the typewritten date of June 15.” More important. Josefina was also appointed executrix.ORTEGA v. In any event. false statement. we agree with the CA that “the variance in the dates of the will as to its supposed execution and attestation was satisfactorily and persuasively explained by the notary public and the instrumental witnesses. aberrations and senility. as well as by three or more credible witnesses who must also attest to it in the presence of the testator and of one another. That the testator was tricked into signing it was not sufficiently established by the fact that he had instituted his wife. but for the fraud. testified that after the testator instructed him on the terms and dispositions he wanted on the will. It may be of such character that the testator is misled or deceived as to the nature or contents of the document which he executes. Before the testator and his witnesses signed the prepared will. It was only then that she learned that the testator bequeathed to her his properties and she was named the executrix in the said will. The oppositor Leticia declared that Josefina should not inherit alone because aside from her there are other children from the siblings of Placido who are just as entitled to inherit from him. NO Fraud “is a trick. Josefina declared too that the testator never suffered mental infirmity. It is a settled doctrine that the omission of some relatives does not affect the due execution of a will. and dated June 15. Placido finally came home and he lived in the house and lot located at in Makati. 1983. It provides in the body that he bequeaths unto his wife one half (1/2) portion of the properties. or it may relate to some extrinsic fact. the notary public told them to come back on June 15. J. the notary public who notarized the testator’s will. the testator’s physical and mental condition showed deterioration. he would not have made. Two years after and at the age of 80. Unfortunately in this case.” . by which the subject of it is cheated. the will must be subscribed by the testator. or pretense. Reversing the trial court. This was corroborated by her daughter Mary Jane Ortega for whom Placido took a fancy and wanted to marry. 1983 but acknowledged only on August 9. and which they did. secret device. He likewise explained that though it appears that the will was signed by the testator and his witnesses on June 15. VALMONTE PANGANIBAN. who was more than fifty years his junior. and disregarded petitioner and her family. Notary Public Floro Sarmiento. Existence of Fraud in the Execution of a Will. as the sole beneficiary. The burden to show otherwise shifts to the proponent of the will only upon a showing of credible evidence of fraud. “because the law does not even require that a [notarial] will x x x be executed and acknowledged on the same occasion. Facts: After working and retiring in the US. Placido executed a notarial last will and testament written in English and consisting of two (2) pages.” We stress that the party challenging the will bears the burden of proving the existence of fraud at the time of its execution. 1983. 1983 because he did not like the document to appear dirty. During that time. he wed Josefina.” Moreover. no evidence of fraud was ever presented. who were the ones who had taken “the cudgels of taking care of [the testator] in his twilight years. but just serendipitously found it in his attache case after his death. She knew whereof she spoke because in 1983 Placido lived in the Makati residence and asked Leticia’s family to live with him and they took care of him. a dialect which the testator spoke and understood. residue and remainder of his real and personal properties. the appellate court admitted the will of Placido Valmonte to probate. The testator and his witnesses returned on the appointed date but the notary public was out of town so they were instructed by his wife to come back on August 9. But in a little more than two years of wedded bliss. 1983. Placido died of a cause written down as COR PULMONALE. At the hearing. She attacked the mental capacity of the testator. 1983. which belongs to him as co-owner as well as all the rest. in consequence of the deception regarding which the testator is led to make a certain will which. Furthermore. the day when it should have been executed had he not gone out of town. 1983 to give him time to prepare it. Josefina testified that she had no knowledge of the existence of the last will and testament of her husband. The allowance to probate of this will was opposed by Leticia. the notary public explained to them each and every term thereof in Ilocano. other than the self-serving allegations of petitioner. The attesting witnesses to the will corroborated the testimony of the notary public. The notary public also testified that to his observation the testator was physically and mentally capable at the time he affixed his signature on the will. the conflict between the dates appearing on the will does not invalidate the document. declaring that at the time of the execution of the notarial will the testator was already 83 years old and was no longer of sound mind. Josefina also asserts that her husband was in good health and that he was hospitalized only because of a cold but which eventually resulted in his death. the testator and the witnesses must acknowledge the will before a notary public. 28 years old. the formal execution was actually on August 9. including my savings account bank book. 1.

which held thus: "Between the highest degree of soundness of mind and memory which unquestionably carries with it full testamentary capacity. CA. WHICH IS ABOUT REQUIREMENTS ON ATTESTED WILLS. the three things that the testator must have the ability to know to be considered of sound mind are as follows: (1) the nature of the estate to be disposed of. Worth reiterating in determining soundness of mind is Alsua-Betts v. The testimonies of the three subscribing witnesses and the notary are credible evidence of its due execution. the extent of his shares in them and even their locations. a weak or feebleminded person may make a valid will. or partial imbecility from disease of body. it is not necessary that the mind be unbroken or unimpaired or unshattered by disease or otherwise. will not render a person incapable of making a will. Their testimony favoring it and the finding that it was executed in accordance with the formalities required by law should be affirmed. absent any showing of ill motives. and was signed at the end or bottom of that page by the testator and on the left hand margin by the three instrumental witnesses.Notably. petitioner failed to substantiate her claim of a “grand conspiracy” in the commission of a fraud. provided he has understanding and memory sufficient to enable him to know what he is about to do and how or to whom he is disposing of his property. he was still able to identify accurately the kinds of property he owned. THE ONLY RELEVANT FACT TO THIS IS: The first page of the will contains the entire testamentary dispositions and a part of the attestation clause. There being no showing of fraud in its execution. and that degrees of mental aberration generally known as insanity or idiocy. and was signed by the witnesses at the end of the attestation clause and again on the left hand margin. As we have stated earlier. It must be noted that despite his advanced age. Capacity to Make a Will According to Article 799. It has been held that testamentary incapacity does not necessarily require that a person shall actually be insane or of unsound mind. To constitute a sound and disposing mind. As regards the proper objects of his bounty. 2. or from age. it was sufficient that he identified his wife as sole beneficiary. we find that the appellate court was correct in holding that Placido had testamentary capacity at the time of the execution of his will. intent in its disposition becomes irrelevant. and (3) the character of the testamentary act. there are numberless degrees of mental capacity or incapacity and while on one hand it has been held that mere weakness of mind. the omission of some relatives from the will did not affect its formal validity. (2) the proper objects of the testator’s bounty." ***THIS CASE ALSO FALLS UNDER ARTICLE 805. . The second page contains the continuation of the attestation clause and the acknowledgment. Applying this test to the present case.

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