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ARTICLES 774/776 Union Bank v. Santibanez 452 SCRA 228 | Abu FACTS: On May 31, 1980, the First Countryside Credit Corporation (FCCC) and Efraim Santibañez entered into a loan agreement in the amount of P128,000.00. The amount was intended for the payment of one (1) unit Ford 6600 Agricultural Tractor. In view thereof, Efraim and his son, Edmund, executed a promissory note in favor of the FCCC, the principal sum payable in five equal annual amortizations. On Dec. 1980, FCCC and Efraim entered into another loan agreement for the payment of another unit of Ford 6600 and one unit of a Rotamotor. Again, Efraim and Edmund executed a promissory note and a Continuing Guaranty Agreement for the later loan. In 1981, Efraim died, leaving a holographic will. Testate proceedings commenced before the RTC of Iloilo City. Edmund was appointed as the special administrator of the estate. During the pendency of the testate proceedings, the surviving heirs, Edmund and his sister Florence, executed a Joint Agreement, wherein they agreed to divide between themselves and take possession of the three (3) tractors: (2) tractors for Edmund and (1) for Florence. Each of them was to assume the indebtedness of their late father to FCCC, corresponding to the tractor respectively taken by them. In the meantime, a Deed of Assignment with Assumption of Liabilities was executed by and between FCCC and Union Bank, wherein the FCCC assigned all its assets and liabilities to Union Bank. Demand letters were sent by Union Bank to Edmund, but the latter refused to pay. Thus, on February 5, 1988, Union Bank filed a Complaint for sum of money against the heirs of Efraim Santibañez, Edmund and Florence, before the RTC of Makati City. Summonses were issued against both, but the one intended for Edmund was not served since he was in the United States and there was no information on his address or the date of his return to the Philippines. Florence filed her Answer and alleged that the loan documents did not bind her since she was not a party thereto. Considering that the joint agreement signed by her and her brother Edmund was not approved by the probate court, it was null and void; hence, she was not liable to Union Bank under the joint agreement. Union Bank asserts that the obligation of the deceased had passed to his legitimate heirs (Edmund and Florence) as provided in Article 774 of the Civil Code; and that the unconditional signing of the joint agreement estopped Florence, and that she cannot deny her liability under the said document. In her comment to the petition, Florence maintains that Union Bank is trying to recover a sum of money from the deceased Efraim Santibañez; thus the claim should have been filed with the probate court. She points out that at the time of the execution of the joint agreement there was already an existing probate proceedings. She asserts that even if the agreement was voluntarily executed by her and her brother Edmund, it should still have been subjected to the approval of the court as it may prejudice the estate, the heirs or third parties. ISSUE: W/N the claim of Union Bank should have been filed with the probate court before which the testate estate of the late Efraim Santibañez was pending. W/N the agreement between Edmund and Florence (which was in effect, a partition of hte estate) was void considering that it had not been approved by the probate court. W/N there can be a valid partition among the heirs before the will is probated. HELD: Well-settled is the rule that a probate court has the jurisdiction to determine all the properties of the deceased, to determine whether they should or should not be included in the inventory or list of properties to be administered. The said court is primarily concerned with the administration, liquidation and distribution of the estate. In our jurisdiction, the rule is that there can be no valid partition among the heirs until after the will has been probated. In the present case, Efraim left a holographic will which contained the provision which reads as follows:
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(e) All other properties, real or personal, which I own and may be discovered later after my demise, shall be distributed in the proportion indicated in the immediately preceding paragraph in favor of Edmund and Florence, my children. The above-quoted is an all-encompassing provision embracing all the properties left by the decedent which might have escaped his mind at that time he was making his will, and other properties he may acquire thereafter. Included therein are the three (3) subject tractors. This being so, any partition involving the said tractors among the heirs is not valid. The joint agreement executed by Edmund and Florence, partitioning the tractors among themselves, is invalid, specially so since at the time of its execution, there was already a pending proceeding for the probate of their late father’s holographic will covering the said tractors. The Court notes that the loan was contracted by the decedent. The bank, purportedly a creditor of the late Efraim Santibañez, should have thus filed its money claim with the probate court in accordance with Section 5, Rule 86 of the Revised Rules of Court. The filing of a money claim against the decedent’s estate in the probate court is mandatory. This requirement is for the purpose of protecting the estate of the deceased by informing the executor or administrator of the claims against it, thus enabling him to examine each claim and to determine whether it is a proper one which should be allowed. The plain and obvious design of the rule is the speedy settlement of the affairs of the deceased and the early delivery of the property to the distributees, legatees, or heirs. Perusing the records of the case, nothing therein could hold Florence accountable for any liability incurred by her late father. The documentary evidence presented, particularly the promissory notes and the continuing guaranty agreement, were executed and signed only by the late Efraim Santibañez and his son Edmund. As the petitioner failed to file its money claim with the probate court, at most, it may only go after Edmund as co-maker of the decedent under the said promissory notes and continuing guaranty. ARTICLE 77 Uson v. Del Rosario 92:530| Andres FACTS: This is an action for recovery of the ownership and possession of five (5) parcels of land in Pangasinan, filed by Maria Uson against Maria del Rosario and her four illegit children. Maria Uson was the lawful wife of Faustino Nebreda who upon his death in 1945 left the lands involved in this litigation. Faustino Nebreda left no other heir except his widow Maria Uson. However, plaintiff claims that when Faustino Nebreda died in 1945, his common-law wife Maria del Rosario took possession illegally of said lands thus depriving her of their possession and enjoyment. Defendants in their answer set up as special defense that Uson and her husband, executed a public document whereby they agreed to separate as husband and wife and, in consideration of which Uson was given a parcel of land and in return she renounced her right to inherit any other property that may be left by her husband upon his death. CFI found for Uson. Defendants appealed.
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ISSUE: 1. W/N Uson has a right over the lands from the moment of death of her husband. 2. W/N the illegit children of deceased and his common-law wife have successional rights. HELD: 1. Yes. There is no dispute that Maria Uson, is the lawful wife of Faustino Nebreda, former owner of the five parcels of lands litigated in the present case. There is likewise no dispute that Maria del Rosario, was merely a common-law wife with whom she had four illegitimate children with the deceased. It likewise appears that Faustino Nebreda died in 1945 much prior to the effectivity of the new Civil Code. With this background, it is evident that when Faustino Nebreda 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 (Art 777 NCC).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". From that moment, therefore, the rights of inheritance of Maria Uson over the lands in question became vested. The claim of the defendants that Maria Uson had relinquished her right over the lands in question because she expressly renounced to inherit any future property that her husband may acquire and leave upon his death in the deed of separation, cannot be entertained for the simple reason that future inheritance cannot be the subject of a contract nor can it be renounced. 2. No. The provisions of the NCC shall be given retroactive effect even though the event which gave rise to them may have occurred under the prior legislation only if no vested rights are impaired. Hence, since the right of ownership of Maria Uson over the lands in question became vested in 1945 upon the death of her late husband, 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.
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Borja v. Borja 46 SCRA 577 | Ang FACTS: Francisco de Borja filed a petition for probate of the will of his wife who died, Josefa Tangco, with the CFI of Rizal. He was appointed executor and administrator, until he died; his son Jose became the sole administrator. Francisco had taken a 2 nd wife Tasiana before he died; she instituted testate proceedings with the CFI of Nueva Ecija upon his death and was appointed special administatrix. Jose and Tasiana entered upon a compromise agreement, but Tasiana opposed the approval of the compromise agreement. She argues that it was no valid, because the heirs cannot enter into such kind of agreement without first probating the will of Francisco, and at the time the agreement was made, the will was still being probated with the CFI of Nueva Ecija. ISSUE: W/N the compromise agreement is valid, even if the will of Francisco has not yet been probated. HELD: YES, the compromise agreement is valid. The agreement stipulated that Tasiana will receive P800,000 as full payment for her hereditary share in the estate of Francisco and Josefa. There was here no attempt to settle or distribute the estate of Francisco de Borja among the heirs thereto before the probate of his will. The clear object of the contract was merely the conveyance by Tasiana Ongsingco of any and all her individual share and interest, actual or eventual, in the estate of Francisco de Borja and Josefa Tangco. There is no stipulation as to any other claimant, creditor or legatee. And as a hereditary share in a decedent's estate is transmitted or vested immediately from the moment of the death of such causante or predecessor in interest (Civil Code of the Philippines, Art. 777) there is no legal bar to a successor (with requisite contracting capacity) disposing of her or his hereditary share immediately after such death, even if the actual extent of such share is not determined until the subsequent liquidation of the estate.
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Bonilla v. Barcena 71 SCRA 491 | Angliongto FACTS: On March 31, 1975 Fortunata Barcena, mother of minors Rosalio Bonilla and Salvacion Bonilla and wife of Ponciano Bonilla, instituted a civil action in the CFI of Abra, to quiet title over certain parcels of land located in Abra. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that Fortunata Barcena is dead and, therefore, has no legal capacity to sue. In the hearing for the motion to dismiss, counsel for the plaintiff confirmed the death of Fortunata Barcena, and asked for substitution by her minor children and her husband; but the court after the hearing immediately dismissed the case on the ground that a dead person cannot be a real party in interest and has no legal personality to sue. ISSUE: W/N the CFI erred in dismissing the complaint. HELD: While it is true that a person who is dead cannot sue in court, yet he can be substituted by his heirs in pursuing the case up to its completion. The records of this case show that the death of Fortunata Barcena took place on July 9, 1975 while the complaint was filed on March 31, 1975. This means that when the complaint was filed on March 31, 1975, Fortunata Barcena was still alive, and therefore, the court had acquired jurisdiction over her person. Under Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court "whenever a party to a pending case dies ... it shall be the duty of his attorney to inform the court promptly of such death ... and to give the name and residence of his executor, administrator, guardian or other legal representatives." This duty was complied with by the counsel for the deceased plaintiff when he manifested before the respondent Court that Fortunata Barcena died on July 9, 1975 and asked for the proper substitution of parties in the case. The respondent Court, however, instead of allowing the substitution, dismissed the complaint on the ground that a dead person has no legal personality to sue. This is a grave error. Article 777 of the Civil Code provides "that the rights to the succession are transmitted from the moment of the death of the decedent." From the moment of the death of the decedent, the heirs become the absolute owners of his property, subject to the rights and obligations of the decedent, and they cannot be deprived of their rights thereto except by the methods provided for by law. The moment of death is the determining factor when the heirs acquire a definite right to the inheritance whether such right be pure or contingent. The right of the heirs to the property of the deceased vests in them even before judicial declaration of their being heirs in the testate or intestate proceedings. When Fortunata Barcena, therefore, died, her claim or right to the parcels of land in litigation in Civil Case No. 856, was not extinguished by her death but was transmitted to her heirs upon her death. Her heirs have thus acquired interest in the properties in litigation and became parties in interest in the case. There is, therefore, no reason for the respondent Court not to allow their substitution as parties in interest for the deceased plaintiff. The claim of the deceased plaintiff which is an action to quiet title over the parcels of land in litigation affects primarily and principally property and property rights and therefore is one that survives even after her death. It is, therefore, the duty of the respondent Court to order the legal representative of the deceased plaintiff to appear and to be substituted for her. But what the respondent Court did, upon being informed by the counsel for the deceased plaintiff that the latter was dead, was to dismiss the complaint. This should not have been done for under Section 17, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, it is even the duty of the court, if the legal representative fails to appear, to order the opposing party to procure the appointment of a legal representative of the deceased. Unquestionably, the respondent Court has gravely abused its discretion in not complying with the clear provision of the Rules of Court in dismissing the complaint of the plaintiff in Civil Case No. 856 and refusing the substitution of parties in the case. ARTICLE 783 Vitug v. CA 183 SCRA 755 | JEN SUCCESSION REVIEWER
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FACTS: Romarico Vitug and Nenita Alonte were co-administrators of Dolores Vitug’s (deceased) estate. Rowena Corona was the executrix. Romarico, the deceased’s husband, filed a motion with the probate court asking for authority to sell certain shares of stock and real properties belonging to the estate to cover alleged advances to the estate, which he claimed as personal funds. The advances were used to pay estate taxes. Corona opposed the motion on ground that the advances came from a savings account which formed part of the conjugal partnership properties and is part of the estate. Thus, there was no ground for reimbursement. Romarico claims that the funds are his exclusive property, having been acquired through a survivorship agreement executed with his late wife and the bank. The agreement stated that after the death of either one of the spouses, the savings account shall belong to and be the sole property of the survivor, and shall be payable to and collectible or withdrawable by such survivor. The lower court upheld the validity of the agreement and granted the motion to sell. CA reversed stating that the survivorship agreement constitutes a conveyance mortis causa which did not comply with the formalities of a valid will. Assuming that it was a donation inter vivos, it is a prohibited donation (donation between spouses). ISSUE: W/N the survivorship agreement was valid. HELD: YES. The conveyance is not mortis causa, which should be embodied in a will. A will is a personal, solemn, revocable and free act by which a capacitated person disposes of his property and rights and declares or complies with duties to take effect after his death. The bequest or devise must pertain to the testator. In this case, the savings account involved was in the nature of conjugal funds. Since it was not shown that the funds belonged exclusively to one party, it is presumed to be conjugal. It is also not a donation inter vivos because it was to take effect after the death of one party. It is also not a donation between spouses because it involved no conveyance of a spouse’s own properties to the other. It was an error to include the savings account in the inventory of the deceased’s assets because it is the separate property of Romarico. Thus, Romarico had the right to claim reimbursement. A will is a personal, solemn, revocable and free act by which a capacitated person disposes of his property and rights and declares or complies with duties to take effect after his death. Survivorship agreements are permitted by the NCC. However, its operation or effect must not be violative of the law (i.e. used as a cloak to hide an inofficious donation or to transfer property in fraud of creditors or to defeat the legitime of a forced heir).
ARTICLE 804 Suroza v. Honrado 110 SCRA 388 | Atcheco FACTS: Spouses Mauro Suroza and Marcelina Salvador, who were childless, reared a boy named Agapito. Agapito and his wife Nenita de Vera had a daughter named Lilia. Nenita became Agapito’s guardian when he became disabled. A certain Arsenia de la Cruz also wanted to be his guardian in another proceeding but it was dismissed. Arsenia then delivered a child named Marilyn Sy to Marcelina who brought her up as a supposed daughter of Agapito. Marilyn used the surname Suroza although not legally adopted by Agapito. When Marcelina (who was an illiterate) was 73 years old, she supposedly executed a notarial will which was in English and thumbmarked by her. In the will, she allegedly bequeathed all her properties to Marilyn. She also named as executrix her laundrywoman, Marina Paje. Paje filed a petition for probate of Marcelina’s will. Judge Honrado appointed Paje as administratrix and issued orders allowing the latter to withdraw money from the savings account of Marcelina and Marilyn, and instructing the
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sheriff to eject the occupants of testatrix’s house, among whom was Nenita. She and the other occupants filed a motion to set aside the order ejecting them, alleging that Agapito was the sole heir of the deceased, and that Marilyn was not the decedent’s granddaughter. Despite this, Judge Honrado issued an order probating Marcelina’s will. Nenita filed an omnibus petition to set aside proceedings, admit opposition with counter-petition for administration and preliminary injunction, and an opposition to the probate of the will and a counter-petition for letters of administration, which were dismissed by Judge Honrado. Instead of appealing, Nenita filed a case to annul the probate proceedings but Judge Honrado dismissed it. The judge then closed the testamentary proceeding after noting that the executrix had delivered the estate to Marilyn, and that the estate tax had been paid. Ten months later, Nenita filed a complaint before the SC, charging Judge Honrado with having probated the fraudulent will of Marcelina. She reiterated her contention that the testatrix was illiterate as shown by the fact that she affixed her thumbmark to the will and that she did not know English, the language in which the will was written. She further alleged that Judge Honrado did not take into account the consequences of the preterition of testatrix’s son, Agapito. Judge Honrado in his comment did not deal specifically with the allegations but merely pointed to the fact that Nenita did not appeal from the decree of probate and that in a motion, she asked for a thirty day period within which to vacate the house of the testatrix. Nenita subsequently filed in the CA a petition for certiorari and prohibition against Judge Honrado wherein she prayed that the will, the decree of probate and all the proceedings in the probate case be declared void. The CA dismissed the petition because Nenita’s remedy was an appeal and her failure to do so did not entitle her to resort to the special civil action of certiorari. Relying on that decision, Judge Honrado filed a MTD the administrative case for having allegedly become moot and academic. ISSUE: W/N disciplinary action be taken against respondent judge for having admitted to probate a will, which on its face is void because it is written in English, a language not known to the illiterate testatrix, and which is probably a forged will because she and the attesting witnesses did not appear before the notary as admitted by the notary himself. HELD: YES. 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. In the opening paragraph of the will, it was stated that English was a language “understood and known” to the testatrix. But in its concluding paragraph, it was stated that the will was read to the testatrix “and translated into Filipino language”. That could only mean that the will was written in a language not known to the illiterate testatrix and, therefore, it is void because of the mandatory provision of article 804 of the Civil Code that every will must be executed in a language or dialect known to the testator. The hasty preparation of the will is shown in the attestation clause and notarial acknowledgment where Marcelina Salvador Suroza is repeatedly referred to as the “testator” instead of “testatrix”. Had respondent judge been careful and observant, he could have noted not only the anomaly as to the language of the will but also that there was something wrong in instituting the supposed granddaughter as sole heiress and giving nothing at all to her supposed father who was still alive. Furthermore, after the hearing conducted by the deputy clerk of court, respondent judge could have noticed that the notary was not presented as a witness. In spite of the absence of an opposition, respondent judge should have personally conducted the hearing on the probate of the will so that he could have ascertained whether the will was validly executed. Noble v. Abaja 450 SCRA 265 | Bautista FACTS: The case is about the probate of the will of Alipio Abada (Not respondent Abaja). Petitioner Belinda Noble is the administratrix of the estate of Abada. Respondent Alipio Abaja filed a petition for the probate of Abada’s will. Petitioner Noble moved for dismissal of the petition for probate.
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Caponong-Noble points out that nowhere in the will can one discern that Abada knew the Spanish language. She alleges that such defect is fatal and must result in the disallowance of the will. ISSUE: Should it be expressly stated in the will that it (the will) was in a language known by the testator? HELD: No. There is no statutory requirement to state in the will itself that the testator knew the language or dialect used in the will.  This is a matter that a party may establish by proof aliunde. In this case, Alipio testified that Abada used to gather Spanishspeaking people in their place. In these gatherings, Abada and his companions would talk in the Spanish language. This sufficiently proves that Abada speaks the Spanish language. ARTICLES 805-806 Matias v. Salud L-10751, 23 June 1958 | JEN SUCCESSION REVIEWER FACTS: The CFI denied probate of the will of Gabina Raquel. It must be noted that Gabina Raquel was suffering from herpes zoster that afflicted the right arm and shoulder of the testatrix, which made writing difficult and a painful act. Thus, upon the insistence of the attorney, Gabina attempted to sign, but since it was so painful she just managed to thumbmarked the foot of the document and the left margin at each page. The parties opposing the probate of the will contended that the will was void due to the irregularities in the execution thereof. One of the points raised by the oppositors was that the finger mark can not be regarded as the decedent’s valid signature as it does not show distinct identifying ridgelines. And since the finger mark was an invalid signature, there must appear in the attestation clause that another person wrote the testator’s name at his request. ISSUE: W/N the will was valid. HELD: YES. As to the clarity of the ridge impressions, it is so dependent on aleatory requirements as to require dexterity that can be expected of very few persons; testators should not be required to possess the skill of trained officers. And as to the validity of the thumbprints as signature, the SC held that it has been held in a long line of cases that a thumbprint is always a valid and sufficient signature for the purpose of complying with the requirement of the article. Furthermore, the validity of thumbprints should not be limited in cases of illness or infirmity. A thumbprint is considered as a valid and sufficient signature in complying with the requirements of the article. Garcia v. Lacuesta 90:489 | Castillo FACTS: This case involves the will of Antero Mercado, which among other defects was signed by the testator through a cross mark (an “X”). The will was signed by Atty. Javier who wrote the name of Mercado as testator and the latter allegedly wrote a cross mark after his name. The CFI allowed the will but the CA disallowed it because its attestation clause was defective for failing to certify 1) that the will was signed by Atty. Javier at the express direction of the testator, 2) that the testator wrote a cross at the end of his name after Atty. Javier signed for him, and 3) that the 3 witnesses signed the will in the presence of the testator and of each other. ISSUE: Whether the will should be allowed despite the defect of the attestation clause since the testator had placed a cross mark himself as his signature.
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HELD: The attestation clause is fatally defective for failing to state that Mercado directed Javier to write the testator’s name under his express direction. Petitioner’s argument that such recital is unnecessary because the testator signed the will himself using a cross mark which should be considered the same as a thumb-mark (which has been held sufficient in past cases) is not acceptable. A cross mark is not the same as a thumb mark, because the cross mark does not have the same trustworthiness of a thumb mark. Barut v. Cabacungan 21:461 | Casuela FACTS: Barut applied for the probate of the will of deceased, Maria Salomon. The testatrix stated in the will that being unable to read or write, the will was read to her by Ciriaco Concepcion and Timotea Inoselda and that she had instructed Severo Agayan to sign her name to it as testatrix. The probate was contested by a number of the relatives of the deceased on various grounds. The probate court found that the will was not entitled to probate because “the handwriting of the person who it is alleged signed the name of the testatrix to the will for and on her behalf looked more like the handwriting of one of the other witnesses to the will than to the person whose handwriting it was alleged to be” (i.e. The probate court denied probate because the signature seemed to not have been by Severo Agayan but by another witness). ISSUE: Was the dissimilarity in handwriting sufficient to deny probate of the will? HELD: No. The SC found that the mere dissimilarity in writing is sufficient to overcome the uncontradicted testimony of all the witnesses that the signature of the testatrix was written by Severo Agayan. It is also immaterial who writes the name of the testatrix provided it is written at her request and in her presence and in the presence of all the witnesses to the execution of the will. Based on Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, it is clear that with respect to the validity of the will, it is unimportant whether the person who writes the name of the testatrix signs his own or not. The important thing is that it clearly appears that the name of the testatrix was signed at her express direction in the presence of 3 witnesses and that they attested and subscribed it in her presence and in the presence of each other. It may be wise that the one who signs the testator’s name signs also his own; but that is not essential to the validity of the will. The court also held that the 3 cases cited by the lower court was not applicable. In those cases, the person who signed the will for the testator wrote his own name instead of the testator’s, so that the testator’s name nowhere appeared in the will, and were thus wills not duly executed. Nera v. Rimando 18:450 | Cukingnan 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. HELD: 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
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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. Icasiano v. Icasiano 11 SCRA 422 | 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 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: 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) 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
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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 repugnant and exclude each other; their joining as grounds for opposing probate shows absence of definite evidence against the validity of the will.
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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 one signature in its third page, it is easily discerned that oppositorsappellants 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. Cagro v. Cagro 92:1032 | Dina FACTS: Vicente Cagro died on Feb. 14, 1949 in Samar. Since the decedent allegedly made a will prior to his death, the will was probated before the CFI of Samar. However, the oppositorsappellant objected the probate proceeding alleging that the will is fatally defective because its attestation clause is not signed by the attesting witnesses. It is undisputed that the signatures of the three witnesses to the will do not appear at the bottom of the attestation clause, although the page containing the same is signed by the witnesses on the left-hand margin. ISSUE: W/N the will may be probated even if the signatures of the witnesses do not appear at the bottom of the attestation clause, and instead, they were placed on the left-hand margin of the page containing the same.
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HELD: No. The position taken by the oppositor-appellant is correct. The attestation clause is 'a memorandum of the facts attending the execution of the will' required by law to be made by the attesting witnesses, and it must necessarily bear their signatures. An unsigned attestation clause cannot be considered as an act of the witnesses, since the omission of their signatures at the bottom thereof negatives their participation. The petitioner-appellee contends that signatures of the three witnesses on the left-hand margin conform substantially to the law and may be deemed as their signatures to the attestation clause. This is untenable, because said signatures are in compliance with the legal mandate that the will be signed on the left-hand margin of all its pages. If an attestation clause not signed by the three witnesses at the bottom thereof, be admitted as sufficient, it would be easy to add such clause to a will on a subsequent occasion and in the absence of the testator and any or all of the witnesses. Bautista Angelo, J. dissenting: I dissent. In my opinion the will in question has substantially complied with the formalities of the law and, therefore, should be admitted to probate. It appears that the will was signed by the testator and was attested by three instrumental witnesses, not only at the bottom, but also on the left-hand margin. The witnesses testified not only that the will was signed by the testator in their presence and in the presence of each other but also that when they did so, the attestation clause was already written thereon. Their testimony has not been contradicted. The only objection set up by the oppositors to the validity of the will is the fact that the signatures of the instrumental witnesses do not appear immediately after the attestation clause. This objection is too technical to be entertained. In the case of Abangan vs. Abangan, (40 Phil. 476), this court said that when the testamentary dispositions "are wholly written on only one sheet signed at the bottom by the testator and three witnesses (as the instant case),their signatures on the left margin of said sheet would be completely purposeless." In such a case, the court said, the requirement of the signatures on the left hand margin was not necessary because the purpose of the law — which is to avoid the substitution of any of the sheets of the will, thereby changing the testator's dispositions — has already been accomplished. We may say the same thing in connection with the will under consideration because while the three instrumental witnesses did not sign immediately by the majority that it may have been only added on a subsequent occasion and not at the uncontradicted testimony of said witnesses to the effect that such attestation clause was already written in the will when the same was signed. TUASON, J., dissenting: I concur in Mr. Justice Bautista's dissenting opinion and may add that the majority decision erroneously sets down as a fact that the attestation clause was not signed when the witnesses’ signatures appear on the left margin and the real and only question is whether such signatures are legally sufficient. The law on wills does not provide that the attesting witness should sign the clause at the bottom. In the absence of such provision, there is no reason why the signatures on the margin are not acceptable Cruz v. Villasor 54 SCRA 752 | Dizon FACTS: The CFI of Cebu allowed the probate of Valente Z. Cruz’s last will and testament. His surviving spouse, Agapita Cruz, opposed the allowance of the will alleging it was executed through fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and undue influence; that the said instrument was execute 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. Agapita appealed the allowance of the will by certiorari. ISSUE: W/N the will was executed in accordance with law (particularly Articles 805 and 806 of the NCC, the first requiring at least three credible witnesses to attest and subscribe to the will, and the second requiring the testator and the witnesses to acknowledge the will before a notary public.).
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HELD: The Court of First Instance of Iloilo admitted to probate the documents in the Visayan dialectas the testament and codicil duly executed by the deceased Da. Apolinaria Ledesma Vda. de Javellana, on March 30, 1950, and May 29, 1952, respectively, with Ramon Tabiana, Gloria Montinola de Tabiana and Vicente Yap as witnesses. The contestant, Matea Ledesma, sister and nearest surviving relative of said deceased, appealed from the decision, insisting that the said exhibits were not executed in conformity with law. Ledesma is questioning the validity of the codicil contending that the fact that the notary did not sign the instrument in the presence of the testator and the witness made the codicil was not executed in conformity with the law ISSUE: W/N the codicil was validly executed. HELD: The instrumental witnesses (who happen to be the same ones who attested the will of 1950) asserted that after the codicil had been signed by the testatrix and the witnesses at the San Pablo Hospital, the same was signed and sealed by notary public Gimotea on the same occasion. On the other hand, Gimotea affirmed that he did not do so, but brought the codicil to his office, and signed and sealed it there. The variance does not necessarily imply conscious perversion of truth on the part of the witnesses, but appears rather due to a well-established phenomenon, the tendency of the mind, in recalling past events, to substitute the usual and habitual for what differs slightly from it. Whether or not the notary signed the certification of acknowledgment in the presence of the testatrix and the witnesses, does not affect the validity of the codicil. The new Civil Code does not require that the signing of the testator, witnesses and notary should be accomplished in one single act. A comparison of Articles 805 and 806 of the new Civil Code reveals that while testator and witnesses sign in the presence of each other, all that is thereafter required is that "every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses" (Art. 806); i.e., that the latter should avow to the certifying officer the authenticity of their signatures and the voluntariness of their actions in executing the
NO. Of the three instrumental witnesses to the will, one of them (Atty. Teves) is at the same time the Notary Public before whom the will was supposed to have been acknowledged. 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 (Javellana v. Ledesma; Castro v. Castro); to own as genuine, to assent, to admit; and "before" means in front or preceding in space or ahead of. 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 so that one will appear before the other to acknowledge his participation in the making of the will. To permit such a situation to obtain would be sanctioning a sheer absurdity. Furthermore, the function of a notary public is, among others, to guard against any illegal or immoral arrangement (Balinon v. De Leon). That function would defeated if the notary public were one of the attesting instrumental witnesses. It would place him in inconsistent position and the very purpose of acknowledgment, which is to minimize fraud, would be thwarted. Admittedly, there are American precedents holding that notary public may, in addition, act as a witness to the executive of the document he has notarized. There are others holding that his signing merely as notary in a will nonetheless makes him a witness thereon. But these authorities do not serve the purpose of the law in this jurisdiction or are not decisive of the issue herein because the notaries public and witnesses referred to in these cases merely acted as instrumental, subscribing attesting witnesses, and not as acknowledging witnesses. Here, the notary public acted not only as attesting witness but also acknowledging witness, a situation not envisaged by Article 805-06. Probate of will set aside. Javellana v. Ledesma 97:258 | Enriquez FACTS:
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testamentary disposition. This was done in this case. The subsequent signing and sealing by the notary of his certification that the testament was duly acknowledged by the participants therein is no part of the acknowledgment itself nor of the testamentary act. Hence their separate execution out of the presence of the testatrix and her witnesses cannot be said to violate the rule that testaments should be completed without interruption. It is noteworthy that Article 806 of the new Civil Code does not contain words requiring that the testator and the witnesses should acknowledge the testament on the same day or occasion that it was executed. Ortega v. Valmonte 478 SCRA 247 | Escosia FACTS: Two years after the arrival of Placido from the United States and at the age of 80 he wed Josefina who was then 28 years old. But in a little more than two years of wedded bliss, Placido died. Placido executed a notarial last will and testament written in English and consisting of 2 pages, and dated 15 June 1983¸but acknowledged only on 9 August 1983. The allowance to probate of this will was opposed by Leticia, Placido’s sister. According to the notary public who notarized the testator’s will, after the testator instructed him on the terms and dispositions he wanted on the will, the notary public told them to come back on 15 August 1983 to give him time to prepare. 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 9 August 1983. The formal execution was actually on 9 August 1983. He reasoned he no longer changed the typewritten date of 15 June 1983 because he did not like the document to appear dirty. Petitioner’s argument: 1. At the time of the execution of the notarial will Placido was already 83 years old and was no longer of sound mind. 2. Josefina conspired with the notary public and the 3 attesting witnesses in deceiving Placido to sign it. Deception is allegedly reflected in the varying dates of the execution and the attestation of the will. ISSUE: 1. W/N Placido has testamentary capacity at the time he allegedly executed the will. 2. W/N the signature of Placido in the will was procured by fraud or trickery. HELD: 1. YES. Despite his advanced age, he was still able to identify accurately the kinds of property he owned, the extent of his shares in them and even their location. As regards the proper objects of his bounty, it was sufficient that he identified his wife as sole beneficiary. The omission of some relatives from the will did not affect its formal validity. There being no showing of fraud in its execution, intent in its disposition becomes irrelevant. 2. NO. Fraud is a trick, secret devise, false statement, or pretense, by which the subject of it is cheated. 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, or it may relate to some extrinsic fact, in consequence of the deception regarding which the testator is led to make a certain will which, but for fraud, he would not have made. The party challenging the will bears the burden of proving the existence of fraud at the time of its execution. The burden to show otherwise shifts to the proponent of the will only upon a showing of credible evidence of fraud. Omission of some relatives does not affect the due execution of a will. Moreover, the conflict between the dates appearing on the will does not invalidate the document, “because the law does not even require that a notarial will be executed and acknowledged on the same occasion. 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 instrumental witnesses.
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Guerrero v. Bihis 521 SCRA 394 | Estorninos FACTS: Felisa Tamio de Buenaventura, mother of petitioner Bella A. Guerrero and respondent Resurreccion A. Bihis, died. Guerrero filed for probate in the RTC QC. Respondent Bihis opposed her elder sister's petition on the following grounds: the will was not executed and attested as required by law; its attestation clause and acknowledgment did not comply with the requirements of the law; the signature of the testatrix was procured by fraud and petitioner and her children procured the will through undue and improper pressure and influence. Petitioner Guerrero was appointes special administratrix. Respondent opposed petitioner's appointment but subsequently withdrew her opposition. The trial court denied the probate of the will ruling that Article 806 of the Civil Code was not complied with because the will was "acknowledged" by the testatrix and the witnesses at the testatrix's residence at No. 40 Kanlaon Street, Quezon City before Atty. Macario O. Directo who was a commissioned notary public for and in Caloocan City. ISSUE: Did the will "acknowledged" by the testatrix and the instrumental witnesses before a notary public acting outside the place of his commission satisfy the requirement under Article 806 of the Civil Code? HELD: No. One of the formalities required by law in connection with the execution of a notarial will is that it must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. 6 This formal requirement is one of the indispensable requisites for the validity of a will. 7 In other words, a notarial will that is not acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the instrumental witnesses is void and cannot be accepted for probate. cDICaS The Notarial law provides: SECTION 240.Territorial jurisdiction. — The jurisdiction of a notary public in a province shall be co-extensive with the province. The jurisdiction of a notary
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public in the City of Manila shall be co-extensive with said city. No notary shall possess authority to do any notarial act beyond the limits of his jurisdiction. The compulsory language of Article 806 of the Civil Code was not complied with and the interdiction of Article 240 of the Notarial Law was breached. Ineluctably, the acts of the testatrix, her witnesses and Atty. Directo were all completely void. Lee v. Tambago 544 SCRA 393 | Fortea FACTS: Complainant, Manuel L. Lee, charged respondent, Atty. Regino B. Tambago, with violation of Notarial Law and the Ethics of the legal profession for notarizing a will that is alleged to be spurious in nature in containing forged signatures of his father, the decedent, Vicente Lee Sr. and two other witnesses. In the said will, the decedent supposedly bequeathed his entire estate to his wife Lim Hock Lee, save for a parcel of land which he devised to Vicente Lee, Jr. and Elena Lee, half-siblings of complainant. The will was purportedly executed and acknowledged before respondent on June 30, 1965. Complainant, however, pointed out that the residence certificate of the testator noted in the acknowledgment of the will was dated January 5, 1962. Furthermore, the signature of the testator was not the same as his signature as donor in a deed of donation which supposedly contained his purported signature. Complainant averred that the signatures of his deceased father in the will and in the deed of donation were "in any way entirely and diametrically opposed from one another in all angle[s]." Complainant also questioned the absence of notation of the residence certificates of the purported witnesses Noynay and Grajo. He alleged that their signatures had likewise been forged and merely copied from their respective voters’ affidavits. Complainant further asserted that no copy of such purported will was on file in the archives division of the Records Management and Archives Office of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). ISSUE: Was the will spurious? HELD: Yes, thus Tambago violated the Notarial Law and the ethics of legal profession. The law provides for certain formalities that must be followed in the execution of wills. The object of solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door on bad faith and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guarantee their truth and authenticity. A notarial will, as the contested will in this case, is required by law to be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself. In addition, it should be attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another. The will in question was attested by only two witnesses. On this circumstance alone, the will must be considered void. This is in consonance with the rule that acts executed against the provisions of mandatory or prohibitory laws shall be void, except when the law itself authorizes their validity. The Civil Code likewise requires that a will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. 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 involves an extra step undertaken whereby the signatory actually declares to the notary public that the same is his or her own free act and deed. The acknowledgment in a notarial will has a two-fold purpose: (1) to safeguard the testator’s wishes long after his demise and (2) to assure that his estate is administered in the manner that he intends it to be done. A cursory examination of the acknowledgment of the will in question shows that this particular requirement was neither strictly nor substantially complied with. For one, there was the conspicuous absence of a notation of the residence certificates of the notarial witnesses Noynay and Grajo in the acknowledgment. Similarly, the notation of the testator’s old residence certificate in the same acknowledgment was a clear breach of the law. These omissions by respondent invalidated the will.
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As the acknowledging officer of the contested will, respondent was required to faithfully observe the formalities of a will and those of notarization. These formalities are mandatory and cannot be disregarded. ARTICLE 808 Garcia v. Vasquez 32 SCRA 489 | Grapilon FACTS: This is a petition for appeal from the CFI of Manila admitting to probate the will of Gliceria Avelino del Rosario (“Gliceria”) executed in 1960. Likewise, this is also an appeal to remove the current administrator, Consuelo Gonzales-Precilla( “Consuelo”) as special administratrix of the estate on the ground of Consuelo possesses interest adverse to the estate and to order the RD of Manila to annotate on the registered lands a notice of Lis Pendens. When Gliceria died she had no descendants, ascendants, bros or sisses and 90 yrs old. After which, her niece, Consuelo petitioned the court to be the administratrix of the properties. The court approved this because Consuelo has been was already managing the properties of the deceased during her lifetime. What the respondents allege is that in the last years of the deceased, Consuelo sought the transfer of certain parcels of land valued at 300k for a sale price of 30k to her husband Alfonso through fraud and intimidation. In addition, the oppositors presented evidence that Consuelo asked the court to issue new Certificates of Titles to certain parcels of land for the purpose of preparing the inventory to be used in the probate. Also shown was that NEW TCTs were issued by the RD for certain lands of the deceased after Consuelo asked for the old TCTs. At the end of the probate proceedings, the court ruled that Counsuelo should be made the administrator, and that the will was duly executed because of these reasons: NO EVIDENCE HAS BEEN PRESENTED to establish that the deceased was not of sound mind, that eventough the allegations state that the deceased prepared another will in 1956 (12pages), the latter is not prevented from executing another will in 1960 (1page), and that inconsistencies in the testimonies of the witnesses prove their truthfulness. ISSUE: Was the will in 1960 (1 page) duly/properly executed? HELD: NO. Provision of Article 808 mandatory. Therefore, For all intents and purposes of the rules on probate, the testatrix was like a blind testator, and the due execution of her will would have required observance of Article 808. The rationale behind the requirement of reading the will to the testator if he is blind or incapable of reading the will himself (as when he is illiterate) , is to make the provisions thereof known to him, so that he may be able to object if they are not in accordance with his wishes. Likewise, the 1970 will was done in Tagalog which the deceased is not well versed but in Spanish. This creates doubt as to the due execution of the will and as well as the typographical errors contain therein which show the haste in preparing the 1 page will as compared to the 12 page will created in 1956 written in Spanish. ALSO, as to the blindness, there was proof given by the testimony of the doctor that the deceased could not read at near distances because of cataracts. (Testatrix’s vision was mainly for viewing distant objects and not for reading print.) Since there is no proof that it was read to the deceased twice, the will was NOT duly executed. ALSO, Consuelo should be removed as administrator because she is not expected to sue her own husband to reconvey the lands to the estate alleged to have been transferred by the deceased to her own husband. The notice of lis pendens is also not proper where the issue is not an action in rem, affecting real property or the title thereto. Alvarado v. Gaviola 226 SCRA 347 | JEN SUCCESSION REVIEWER FACTS: On 5 November 1977, 79-year old Brigido Alvarado executed a notarial will entitled “Huling Habilin” wherein he disinherited an illegitimate son, petitioner Cesar Alvarado, and
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expressly revoked a previously executed holographic will at the time awaiting probate before the RTC of Laguna. According to Bayani Ma. Rino, private respondent, he was present when the said notarial will was executed, together with three instrumental witnesses and the notary public, where the testator did not read the will himself, suffering as he did from glaucoma. Rino, a lawyer, drafted the eight-page document and read the same aloud before the testator, the three instrumental witnesses and the notary public, the latter four following the reading with their own respective copies previously furnished them. Thereafter, a codicil entitled “Kasulatan ng Pagbabago ng Ilang Pagpapasiya na Nasasaad sa Huling Habilin na May Petsa Nobiembre 5, 1977 ni Brigido Alvarado” was executed changing some dispositions in the notarial will to generate cash for the testator’s eye operation. Said codicil was likewise not read by Brigido Alvarado and was read in the same manner as with the previously executed will. When the notarial will was submitted to the court for probate, Cesar Alvarado filed his opposition as he said that the will was not executed and attested as required by law; that the testator was insane or mentally incapacitated due to senility and old age; that the will was executed under duress, or influence of fear or threats; that it was procured by undue pressure and influence on the part of the beneficiary; and that the signature of the testator was procured by fraud or trick. ISSUE: W/N notarial will of Brigido Alvarado should be admitted to probate despite allegations of defects in the execution and attestation thereof as testator was allegedly blind at the time of execution and the double-reading requirement under Art. 808 of the NCC was not complied with. HELD: YES. The spirit behind the law was served though the letter was not. Although there should be strict compliance with the substantial requirements of law in order to insure the authenticity of the will, the formal imperfections should be brushed aside when they do not affect its purpose and which, when taken into account, may only defeat the testator’s will. Cesar Alvardo was correct in asserting that his father was not totally blind (of counting fingers at 3 feet) when the will and codicil were executed, but he can be so considered for purposes of Art. 808. That Art. 808 was not followed strictly is beyond cavil. However, in the case at bar, there was substantial compliance where the purpose of the law has been satisfied: that of making the provisions known to the testator who is blind or incapable of reading the will himself (as when he is illiterate) and enabling him to object if they do not accord with his wishes. Rino read the testator’s will and codicil aloud in the presence of the testator, his three instrumental witnesses, and the notary public. Prior and subsequent thereto, the testator affirmed, upon being asked, that the contents read corresponded with his instructions. Only then did the signing and acknowledgment take place. There is no evidence that the contents of the will and the codicil were not sufficiently made known and communicated to the testator. With four persons, mostly known to the testator, 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. The rationale behind the requirement of reading the will to the testator if he is blind or incapable of reading the will to himself (as when he is illiterate), is to make the provisions thereof known to him, so that he may be able to object if they are not in accordance with his wishes. Although there should be strict compliance with the substantial requirements of law in order to insure the authenticity of the will, the formal imperfections should be brushed aside when they do not affect its purpose and which, when taken into account, may only defeat the testator’s will.
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ARTICLE 809 Caneda v. CA 222 SCRA 781 | JEN SUCCESSION REVIEWER FACTS: On December 5, 1978, Mateo Caballero, a widower without any children and already in the twilight years of his life, executed a last will and testament at his residence before 3 witnesses. He was assisted by his lawyer, Atty. Emilio Lumontad. In the will, it was declared that the testator was leaving by way of legacies and devises his real and personal properties to several people all of whom do not appear to be related to the testator. 4 months later, Mateo Caballero himself filed a case seeking the probate of his last will and testament, but numerous postponements pushed back the initial hearing of the probate court regarding the will. On May 29, 1980, the testator passed away before his petition could finally be heard by the probate court. Thereafter one of the legatees, Benoni Cabrera, sought his appointment as special administrator of the testator’s estate. Thereafter, the petitioners, claiming to be nephews and nieces of the testator, instituted a second petition for intestate proceedings. They also opposed the probate of the testator’s will and the appointment of a special administrator for his estate. Benoni Cabrera died and was replaced by William Cabrera as special administrator and gave an order that the testate proceedings for the probate of the will had to be heard and resolved first. In the course of the proceedings, petitioners opposed to the allowance of the testator’s will on the ground that on the alleged date of its execution, the testator was already in poor state of health such that he could not have possibly executed the same. Also the genuineness of the signature of the testator is in doubt. On the other hand, one of the attesting witnesses and the notary public testified that the testator executed the will in question in their presence while he was of sound and disposing mind and that the testator was in good health and was not unduly influenced in any way in the execution of his will. Probate court then rendered a decision declaring the will in question as the last will and testament of the late Mateo Caballero. CA affirmed the probate court’s decision stating that it substantially complies with Article 805. Hence this appeal. ISSUE: W/N the attestation clause in the will of the testator is fatally defective or can be cured under the art. 809. HELD: No. It does not comply with the provisions of the law. Ordinary or attested wills are governed by Arts. 804 to 809. The will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the attesting witnesses. The attestation clause need not be written in a language known to the testator or even to the attesting witnesses. 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. The attestation clause, therefore, provides strong legal guaranties for the due execution of a will and to insure the authenticity thereof. It is contended by petitioners that the attestation clause in the will failed to specifically state the fact that the attesting witnesses witnessed the testator sign the will and all its pages in their presence and that they, the witnesses, likewise signed the will and every page thereof in the presence of the testator and of each other. And the Court agrees. The attestation clause 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. The phrase, “and he has signed the same and every page thereof, on the space provided for his signature and on the left hand margin,” obviously refers to the testator and not the
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instrumental witnesses as it is immediately preceded by the words” as his last will and testament.” 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. That 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 probated. Also, Art. 809 does not apply to the present case because 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. The defect in this case is not only with respect to the form or the language of the attestation clause. The defects must be remedied by intrinsic evidence supplied by the will itself which is clearly lacking in this case. Therefore, the probate of the will is set aside and the case for the intestate proceedings shall be revived. Article 809 cannot be used to cure the defects of the will when it does not pertain to the form or language of the will. This is because there is not substantial compliance with Article 805. Azuela v. CA 487 SCRA 119 | Jalipa ARTICLE 810 Roxas v. De Jesus 134 SCRA 245 | Lantion FACTS: Bibiane Roxas died. Her brother, Simeon Roxas, filed a spec. pro. for partition of the estate of the deceased and also delivered the holographic will of the deceased. Simeon stated that he found a notebook belonging to deceased, which contained a “letter-will” entirely written and signed in deceased’s handwriting. The will is dated "FEB./61 " and states: "This is my will which I want to be respected although it is not written by a lawyer. Roxas relatives corroborated the fact that the same is a holographic will of deceased, identifying her handwriting and signature. Respondent opposed probate on the ground that it such does not comply with Article 810 of the CC because the date contained in a holographic will must signify the year, month, and day. ISSUE: W/N the date "FEB./61 " appearing on the holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus is a valid compliance with the Article 810 of the Civil Code. HELD: Valid date. This will not be the first time that this Court departs from a strict and literal application of the statutory requirements regarding the due execution of Wills. The underlying and fundamental objectives permeating the provisions of the law wills consists in the liberalization of the manner of their execution with the end in view of giving the testator more freedom in expressing his last wishes, but with sufficient safeguards and restrictions to prevent the commission of fraud and the exercise of undue and improper pressure and influence upon the testator. If a Will has been executed in substantial compliance with the formalities of the law, and the possibility of bad faith and fraud in the exercise thereof is obviated, said Will should be admitted to probate (Rey v. Cartagena 56 Phil. 282). If the testator, in executing his Will, attempts to comply with all the requisites, although compliance is not literal, it is sufficient if the objective or purpose sought to be accomplished by such requisite is actually attained by the form followed by the testator. In Abangan v. Abanga 40 Phil. 476, we ruled that: The object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door against bad faith and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guaranty their truth and authenticity. ... In particular, a complete date is required to provide against such contingencies as that of two competing Wills executed on the same day, or of a testator becoming insane on the day on which a Will was executed (Velasco v. Lopez, 1 Phil. 720). There is no such contingency in this case. We have carefully reviewed the records of this case and found no evidence of bad faith and fraud in its execution nor was there any substitution of Wins and Testaments. There is no
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question that the holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus was entirely written, dated, and signed by the testatrix herself and in a language known to her. There is also no question as to its genuineness and due execution. All the children of the testatrix agree on the genuineness of the holographic Will of their mother and that she had the testamentary capacity at the time of the execution of said Will. The objection interposed by the oppositor-respondent Luz Henson is that the holographic Will is fatally defective because the date "FEB./61 " appearing on the holographic Will is not sufficient compliance with Article 810 of the Civil Code. This objection is too technical to be entertained. 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. Labrador v. CA 184 SCRA 170 | JEN SUCCESSION REVIEWER FACTS: Melecio died leaving behind a parcel of land to his heirs. However, during probate proceedings, Jesus and Gaudencio filed an opposition on the ground that the will has been extinguished by implication of law alleging that before Melecio’s death, the land was sold to them evidenced by TCT No. 21178. Jesus eventually sold it to Navat. Trial court admitted the will to probate and declared the TCT null and void. However, the CA on appeal denied probate on the ground that it was undated. ISSUE: W/N the alleged holographic will is dated, as provided for in Article 810 of CC. HELD: YES. The law does not specify a particular location where the date should be placed in the will. The only requirements are that the date be in the will itself and executed in the hand of the testator. The intention to show March 17 1968 as the date of the execution is plain from the tenor of the succeeding words of the paragraph. It states that “this being in the month of March 17 th day, in the year 1968, and this decision and or instruction of mine is the matter to be followed. And the one who made this writing is no other than Melecio Labrador, their father.” This clearly shows that this is a unilateral act of Melecio who plainly knew that he was executing a will. ARTICLE 811 Gan v. Yap 104:509 | Lugtu FACTS: Felicidad Yap died of a heart failure, leaving properties in Pulilan, Bulacan, and in Manila. Fausto E. Gan, her nephew, initiated the proceedings in the Manila CFI with a petition for the probate of a holographic will allegedly executed by the deceased. The will was not presented because Felicidad’s husband, Ildefonso, supposedly took it. What was presented were witness accounts of relatives who knew of her intention to make a will and allegedly saw it as well. According to the witnesses, Felicidad did not want her husband to know about it, but she had made known to her other relatives that she made a will. 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 Judge refused to probate the alleged will on account of the discrepancies arising from the facts. For one thing, it is strange that Felicidad made her will known to so many of her relatives when she wanted to keep it a secret and she would not have carried it in her purse in the hospital, knowing that her husband may have access
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to it. There was also no evidence presented that her niece was her confidant. In the face of these improbabilities, the trial judge had to accept the oppositor’s evidence that Felicidad did not and could not have executed such holographic will. ISSUE: 1. May 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? 2. W/N Felicidad could have executed the holographic will. HELD: 1. No. The will must be presented. The New Civil Code effective in 1950 revived holographic wills in its arts. 810-814. "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." This is a radical departure from the form and solemnities provided for wills under Act 190, which for fifty years (from 1901 to 1950) required wills to be subscribed by the testator and three credible witnesses in each and every page; such witnesses to attest to the number of sheets used and to the fact that the testator signed in their presence and that they signed in the presence of the testator and of each other. Authenticity and due execution is the dominant requirements to be fulfilled when such will is submitted to the courts for allowance. For that purpose the testimony of one of the subscribing witnesses would be sufficient if there is no opposition (Sec. 5, Rule 77). If there is, the three must testify, if available. From the testimony of such witnesses (and of other additional witnesses) the court may form its opinion as to the genuineness and authenticity of the testament, and the circumstances its due execution. With regard to holographic wills, no such guaranties of truth and veracity are demanded, since as stated, they need no witnesses; provided however, that they are "entirely written, dated, and signed by the hand of the testator himself." “In the probate of a holographic will" says the New Civil Code, "it shall be necessary that at least one witness who knows the handwriting and signature of the testator explicitly declare that the will and the signature are in the handwriting of the testator. If the will is contested, at least three such witnesses shall be required. In the absence of any such witnesses, (familiar with decedent's handwriting) and if the court deem it necessary, expert testimony may be resorted to." The witnesses need not have seen the execution of the holographic will, but they must be familiar with the decedent’s handwriting. Obviously, when the will itself is not submitted, these means of opposition, and of assessing the evidence are not available. And then the only guaranty of authenticity — the testator's handwriting — has disappeared. The Rules of Court, (Rule 77) approved in 1940 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. Could Rule 77 be extended, by analogy, to holographic wills? (NO) Spanish commentators agree that one of the greatest objections to the holographic will is that it may be lost or stolen — an implied admission that such loss or theft renders it useless. As it is universally admitted that the holographic will is usually done by the testator and by himself alone, to prevent others from knowing either its execution or its contents, the above article 692 could not have the idea of simply permitting such relatives to state whether they know of the will, but whether in the face of the document itself they think the testator wrote it. Obviously, this they can't do unless the will itself is presented to the Court and to them. This holding aligns with the ideas on holographic wills in the Fuero Juzgo, admittedly the basis of the Spanish Civil Code provisions on the matter.(According to the Fuero, the will itself must be compared with specimens of the testators handwriting.)
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All of which can only mean: the courts will not distribute the property of the deceased in accordance with his holographic will, unless they are shown his handwriting and signature. Taking all the above circumstances together, we reach the conclusion 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. At this point, before proceeding further, it might be convenient to explain why, unlike holographic wills, ordinary wills may be proved by testimonial evidence when lost or destroyed. The difference 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, now). 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. In the case of ordinary wills, it is quite hard to convince three witnesses (four with the notary) deliberately to lie. And then their lies could be checked and exposed, their whereabouts and acts on the particular day, the likelihood that they would be called by the testator, their intimacy with the testator, etc. And if they were intimates or trusted friends of the testator they are not likely to end themselves to any fraudulent scheme to distort his wishes. Last but not least, they can not receive anything on account of the will. Whereas in the case of holographic wills, if oral testimony were admissible only one man could engineer the fraud this way: after making a clever or passable imitation of the handwriting and signature of the deceased, he may contrive to let three honest and credible witnesses see and read the forgery; and the latter, having no interest, could easily fall for it, and in court they would in all good faith affirm its genuineness and authenticity. The will having been lost — the forger may have purposely destroyed it in an "accident" — the oppositors have no way to expose the trick and the error, because the document itself is not at hand. And considering that the holographic will may consist of two or three pages, and only one of them need be signed, the substitution of the unsigned pages, which may be the most important ones, may go undetected. If testimonial evidence of holographic wills be permitted, one more objectionable feature — feasibility of forgery — would be added to the several objections to this kind of wills listed by Castan, Sanchez Roman and Valverde and other well-known Spanish Commentators and teachers of Civil Law. One more fundamental difference: in the case of a lost will, the three subscribing witnesses would be testifying to a fact which they saw, namely the act of the testator of subscribing the will; whereas in the case of a lost holographic will, the witnesses would testify as to their opinion of the handwriting which they allegedly saw, an opinion which can not be tested in court, nor directly contradicted by the oppositors, because the handwriting itself is not at hand. In fine, 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. 2. No. 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. Rodelas v. Aranza 119 SCRA 16 | Nieves FACTS: Rodelas filed a petition with the CFI of Rizal for the probate of the holographic will of Ricardo B. Bonilla and the issuance of letters testamentary in her favor. Aranza, et al. filed a MTD on the grounds of: 1. Rodelas was estopped from claiming that the deceased left a will by failing to produce the will within twenty days of the death of the testator as required by Rule 75, section 2 of the Rules of Court;
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2. the copy of the alleged holographic will did not contain a disposition of property after death and was not intended to take effect after death, and therefore it was not a will, it was merely an instruction as to the management and improvement of the schools and colleges founded by the decedent; 3. the hollographic will itself, and not an alleged copy thereof, must be produced, otherwise it would produce no effect because lost or destroyed holographic wills cannot be proved by secondary evidence unlike ordinary wills 4. the deceased did not leave any will, holographic or otherwise, executed and attested as required by law. MTD was denied. Aranza et al. filed an MR, Rodelas filed an opposition. The CFI set aside its order and dismissed the petition for the probate of the will stating that “in the case of Gam vs. Yap, 104 Phil. 509, 522, the Supreme Court held that 'in the matter of holographic wills the law, it is reasonable to suppose, regards the document itself as the material proof of authenticity of said wills.” And that the alleged holographic will was executed on January 25, 1962 while Ricardo B. Bonilla died on May 13, 1976. The lapse of more than 14 years from the time of the execution of the will to the death of the decedent and the fact that the original of the will could not be located shows to that the decedent had discarded the alleged holographic will before his death. Rodelas filed an MR which was denied. Rodelas appealed to the CA. Aranza et al. moved to forward the case to the SC as it involves a question of law not of fact. ISSUE: W/N a holographic will which was lost or cannot be found can be proved by means of a photostatic copy. HELD: If the holographic will has been lost or destroyed and no other copy is available, the will cannot be probated because the best and only evidence is the handwriting of the testator in said will. It is necessary that there be a comparison between sample handwritten statements of the testator and the handwritten will. But, a photostatic copy or xerox copy of the holographic will may be allowed because comparison can be made by the probate court with the standard writings of the testator. The probate court would be able to determine the authenticity of the handwriting of the testator. In the case of Gam vs. Yap, 104 PHIL. 509, 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 will itself must be presented; otherwise, it shall produce no effect. The law regards the document itself as material proof of authenticity." But, in Footnote 8 of said decision, it says that "Perhaps it may be proved by a photographic or photostatic copy. Even a mimeographed or carbon copy; or by other similar means, if any, whereby the authenticity of the handwriting of the deceased may be exhibited and tested before the probate court," Azaola v. Singson 109:102 | Ong FACTS: Fortunata S. Vda. De Yance died in Quezon City on September 9, 1957. Petitioner submitted for probate her holographic will, in which Maria Azaola was made the sole heir as against the nephew, who is the defendant. Only one witness, Francisoco Azaola, was presented to testify on the handwriting of the testatrix. He testified that he had seen it one month, more or less, before the death of the testatrix, as it was given to him and his wife; and that it was in the testatrix’s handwriting. He presented the mortgage, the special power of the attorney, and the general power of attorney, and the deeds of sale including an affidavit to reinforce his statement. Two residence certificates showing the testatrix’s signature were also exhibited for comparison purposes. The probate was opposed 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
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day of August 1957 and not on November 20, 1956 as appears on the will. 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; and because the lone witness presented "did not prove sufficiently that the body of the will was written in the handwriting of the testatrix." Petitioner appealed, urging: first, that he was not bound to produce more than one witness because the will's authenticity was not questioned; and second, that Article 811 does not mandatorily require the production of three witnesses to identify the handwriting and signature of a holographic will, even if its authenticity should be denied by the adverse party. ISSUE: W/N Article 811 of the Civil Code is mandatory or permissive. HELD: Article 8111 is merely permissive and not mandatory. Since the authenticity of the will was not contested, petitioner was not required to produce more than one witness; but even if the genuineness of the holographic will were contested, Article 811 can not be interpreted 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. For it is not merely a question of finding and producing any three witnesses; they must
be witnesses "who know the handwriting and signature of the testator" and who can declare (truthfully, of course, even if the law does not so express) "that the will and the signature are in the handwriting of the testator". There may be no available witness of the testator's hand; or even if so familiarized, the witnesses may be unwilling to give a positive opinion. Compliance with the rule of paragraph 1 of Article 811 may thus become an impossibility. This is the reason why the 2nd paragraph of Article 811 allows the court to resort to expert evidence. The law foresees the possibility that no qualified witness may be found (or what amounts to the same thing, that no competent witness may be willing to testify to the authenticity of the will), and provides for resort to expert evidence to supply the deficiency. 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 will 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. Codoy v. Calugay 312 SCRA 333 | JEN SUCCESSION REVIEWER FACTS: On 6 April 1990, Evangeline Calugay, Josephine Salcedo and Eufemia Patigas, devisees and legatees of the holographic will of the deceased Matilde Seño Vda. de Ramonal, filed a petition for probate of the said will. They attested to the genuineness and due execution of the will on 30 August 1978. Eugenio Ramonal Codoy and Manuel Ramonal filed their opposition claiming that the will was a forgery and that the same is even illegible. They raised doubts as regards the repeated appearing on the will after every disposition, calling the same out of the ordinary. If the will was in the handwriting of the deceased, it was improperly procured.
ART. 811. In the probate of a holographic will, it shall be necessary that at least one witness who knows the handwriting and signature of the testator explicitly declare that the will and the signature are in the handwriting of the testator. If the will is contested, at least three of such witnesses shall be required. In the absence of any competent witnesses referred to in the preceding paragraph, and if the court deems it necessary, expert testimony may be resorted to. (691a)
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Evangeline Calugay, etc. presented 6 witnesses and various documentary evidence. The first witness was the clerk of court of the probate court who produced and identified the records of the case bearing the signature of the deceased. The second witness was election registrar who was made to produce and identify the voter’s affidavit, but failed to as the same was already destroyed and no longer available. The third, the deceased’s niece, claimed that she had acquired familiarity with the deceased’s signature and handwriting as she used to accompany her in collecting rentals from her various tenants of commercial buildings and the deceased always issued receipts. The niece also testified that the deceased left a holographic will entirely written, dated and signed by said deceased. The fourth witness was a former lawyer for the deceased in the intestate proceedings of her late husband, who said that the signature on the will was similar to that of the deceased but that he can not be sure. The fifth was an employee of the DENR who testified that she was familiar with the signature of the deceased which appeared in the latter’s application for pasture permit. The fifth, respondent Evangeline Calugay, claimed that she had lived with the deceased since birth where she had become familiar with her signature and that the one appearing on the will was genuine. Codoy and Ramonal’s demurrer to evidence was granted by the lower court. It was reversed on appeal with the Court of Appeals which granted the probate. ISSUE: HELD: 1. YES. The word “shall” connotes a mandatory order, an imperative obligation and is inconsistent with the idea of discretion and that the presumption is that the word “shall”, when used in a statute, is mandatory. In the case at bar, the goal to be achieved by the law, is to give effect to the wishes of the deceased and the evil to be prevented is the possibility that unscrupulous individuals who for their benefit will employ means to defeat the wishes of the testator. The paramount consideration in the present petition is to determine the true intent of the deceased. 2. NO. We cannot be certain that the holographic will was in the handwriting of the deceased. The clerk of court was not presented to declare explicitly that the signature appearing in the holographic will was that of the deceased. The election registrar was not able to produce the voter’s affidavit for verification as it was no longer available. The deceased’s niece saw pre-prepared receipts and letters of the deceased and did not declare that she saw the deceased sign a document or write a note. The will was not found in the personal belongings of the deceased but was in the possession of the said niece, who kept the fact about the will from the children of the deceased, putting in issue her motive. Evangeline Calugay never declared that she saw the decreased write a note or sign a document. The former lawyer of the deceased expressed doubts as to the authenticity of the signature in the holographic will. (As it appears in the foregoing, the three-witness requirement was not complied with.) A visual examination of the holographic will convinces that the strokes are different when compared with other documents written by the testator. The records are remanded to allow the oppositors to adduce evidence in support of their opposition.
1. W/N Article 811 of the Civil Code, providing that at least
three witnesses explicitly declare the signature in a contested will as the genuine signature of the testator, is mandatory or directory. 2. Whether or not the witnesses sufficiently establish the authenticity and due execution of the deceased’s holographic will.
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The object of solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door against bad faith and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guaranty their truth and authenticity. Therefore, the laws on this subject should be interpreted in such a way as to attain these primordial ends. But, on the other hand, also one must not lose sight of the fact that it is not the object of the law to restrain and curtail the exercise the right to make a will. However, we cannot eliminate the possibility of a false document being adjudged as the will of the testator, which is why if the holographic will is contested, the law requires three witnesses to declare that the will was in the handwriting of the deceased. Article 811, paragraph 1. provides: “In the probate of a holographic will, it shall be necessary that at least one witness who knows the handwriting and signature of the testator explicitly declare that the will and the signature are in the handwriting of the testator. If the will is contested, at least three of such witnesses shall be required.” The word “shall” connotes a mandatory order, an imperative obligation and is inconsistent with the idea of discretion and that the presumption is that the word “shall”, when used in a statute, is mandatory. ARTICLES 813-814 Ajero v. CA 236 SCRA 488 | JEN SUCCESSION REVIEWER FACTS: The holographic will of Annie San was submitted for probate. Private respondent opposed the petition on the grounds that: neither the testament’s body nor the signature therein was in decedent’s handwriting; it contained alterations and corrections which were not duly signed by decedent; and, the will was procured by petitioners through improper pressure and undue influence. The petition was also contested by Dr. Ajero with respect to the disposition in the will of a house and lot. He claimed that said property could not be conveyed by decedent in its entirety, as she was not its sole owner. However, the trial court still admitted the decedent’s holographic will to probate. The trial court held that since it must decide only the question of the identity of the will, its due execution and the testamentary capacity of the testatrix, it finds no reason for the disallowance of the will for its failure to comply with the formalities prescribed by law nor for lack of testamentary capacity of the testatrix. On appeal, the CA reversed said Decision holding that the decedent did not comply with Articles 313 and 314 of the NCC. It found that certain dispositions in the will were either unsigned or undated, or signed by not dated. It also found that the erasures, alterations and cancellations made had not been authenticated by decedent. ISSUE: Whether the CA erred in holding that Articles 813 and 814 of the NCC were not complies with. HELD: YES. A reading of Article 813 shows that its requirement affects the validity of the dispositions contained in the holographic will, but not its probate. If the testator fails to sign and date some of the dispositions, the result is that these dispositions cannot be effectuated. Such failure, however, does not render the whole testament void. Likewise, a holographic will can still be admitted to probate notwithstanding non-compliance with the provisions of Article 814. Unless the authenticated alterations, cancellations or insertions were made on the date of the holographic will or on testator’s signature, their presence does not invalidate the will itself. The lack of authentication will only result in disallowance of such changes. It is also proper to note that he requirements of authentication of changes and signing and dating of dispositions appear in provisions (Article 813 and 814) separate from that which
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provides for the necessary conditions for the validity of the holographic will (Article 810). This separation and distinction adds support to the interpretation that only the requirements of Article 810 of the NCC – and not those found in Articles 813 and 814 – are essential to the probate of a holographic will. Section 9, Rule 76 of the Rules of Court and Article 839 of the Civil Code enumerate the grounds for disallowance of wills. These lists are exclusive; no other grounds can serve to disallow a will. In a petition to admit a holographic will, the only issues to be resolved are: 1. whether the instrument submitted is, indeed, the decedent’s last will and testament; 2. whether said will was executed in accordance with the formalities prescribed by law; 3. whether the decedent had the necessary testamentary capacity at the time the will was executed; and 4. whether the execution of the will and its signing were the voluntary acts of the decedent. The object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door against bad faith and fraud; accordingly, laws on this subject should be interpreted to attain these primordial ends. In the case of holographic wills, what assures authenticity is the requirement that they be totally authographic or handwritten by the testator himself. Failure to strictly observe other formalities will no result in the disallowance of a holographic will that is unquestionable handwritten by the testator. ARTICLE 814 Kalaw v. Relova 132 SCRA 237 | Posadas FACTS: On September 1, 1971,Gregorio Kalaw, claiming to be the sole heir of his deceased sister, Natividad Kalaw, filed a petition for the probate of her holographic Will executed on December 24, 1968. The holographic Will, as first written, named Rosa Kalaw, a sister of the testatrix as her sole heir. She opposed probate alleging that the holographic Will contained alterations, corrections, and insertions without the proper authentication by the full signature of the testatrix as required by Article 814 of the Civil Code reading: Art. 814. In case of any insertion, cancellation, erasure or alteration in a holographic will the testator must authenticate the same by his full signature. ROSA's position was that the holographic Will, as first written, should be given effect and probated so that she could be the sole heir thereunder. Trial Court denied petition to probate the holographic will. Reconsideration denied.
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ISSUE: W/N the original unaltered text after subsequent alterations and insertions were voided by the Trial Court for lack of authentication by the full signature of the testatrix, should be probated or not, with Rosa as sole heir. HELD: Ordinarily, when a number of erasures, corrections, and interlineations made by the testator in a holographic Will litem 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, The ruling in Velasco, supra, must be held confined to such insertions, cancellations, erasures or alterations in a holographic Will, which affect only the efficacy of the altered words themselves but not the essence and validity of the Will itself. As it is, with the erasures, cancellations and alterations made by the testatrix herein, her real intention cannot be determined with certitude. ARTICLES 820-821 Gonzales v. CA 90 SCRA 183 | Reyes FACTS: Isabel Gabriel died on June 7, 1961 without issue. Lutgarda Santiago (respondent), niece of Isabel, filed a petition for probate of Isabel's will designating her as the principal beneficiary and executrix. The will was typewritten in Tagalog and was executed 2 months prior to death of Isabel. The petition was opposed by Rizalina Gonzales (petitioner), also a niece of Isabel, on the following grounds: 1. the will is not genuine, 2. will was not executed and attested as required by law, 3. the decedent at the time of the making of the will did not have testamentary capacity due to her age and sickness, and 4. the will was procured through undue influence. The trial court disallowed the probate of the will but the Court of Appeals Reversed the said decision of the trial court. The petitioner filed a petition for review with SC claiming that the CA erred in holding that the will of the decedent was executed and attested as required by law when there was absolutely no proof that the 3 instrumental witnesses are credible. ISSUE:
1. 1. Can a witness be considered competent under Art 820821 and still not be considered credible as required by Art. 805? 2. Is it required that there must be evidence on record that the witness to a will has good standing in his/her community or that he/she is honest or upright? HELD:
1. Yes. The petitioner submits that the term credible in Article
805 requires something more than just being competent and, therefore, a witness in addition to being competent under Articles 820-821 must also be credible under Art. 805. The competency of a person to be an instrumental witness to a will is determined by the statute (Art. 820 and 821), whereas his credibility depends on the appreciation of his testimony and arises from the belief and conclusion of the Court that said witness is telling the truth. In the case of Vda. de Aroyo v. El Beaterio del Santissimo Rosario de Molo, No. L-22005, May 3, 1968, the Supreme Court held and ruled that: "Competency as a witness is one thing, and it is another to be a credible witness, so credible that the Court must accept what he says. Trial courts may allow a person to testify as a witness upon a given
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matter because he is competent, but may thereafter decide whether to believe or not to believe his testimony." W/N the April 16 will was cancelled. HELD: YES. With reference to the said cancellation, it may be stated that there is positive proof, not denied, which was accepted by the lower court, that will in question had been cancelled in 1920. The law does not require any evidence of the revocation or cancellation of a will to be preserved. It therefore becomes difficult at times to prove the revocation or cancellation of wills. The fact that such cancellation or revocation has taken place must either remain unproved of be inferred from evidence showing that after due search the original will cannot be found. 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. The force of the presumption of cancellation or revocation by the testator, while varying greatly, being weak or strong according to the circumstances, is never conclusive, but may be overcome by proof that the will was not destroyed by the testator with intent to revoke it. In view of the fact that the original will of 1919 could not be found after the death of the testator Miguel Mamuyac and in view of the positive proof that the same had been cancelled, we are forced to the conclusion that the conclusions of the lower court are in accordance with the weight of the evidence. In a proceeding to probate a will the burden of proofs is upon the proponent clearly to establish not only its execution but its existence. Having proved its execution by the proponents, the burden is on the contestant to show that it has been revoked. In a great majority of instances in which wills are destroyed for the purpose of revoking them there is no witness to the act of cancellation or destruction and all evidence of its cancellation perishes with the testator. Copies of wills should be admitted by the courts with great caution. When it is proven, however, by proper testimony that a will was executed in duplicate
2. No. There is no mandatory requirement that the witness
testify initially or at any time during the trial as to his good standing in the community, his reputation for trustworthiness and for being reliable, his honesty and uprightness (such attributes are presumed of the witness unless the contrary is proved otherwise by the opposing party) in order that his testimony may be believed and accepted by the trial court. It is enough that the qualifications enumerated in Article 820 of the Civil Code are complied with, such that the soundness of his mind can be shown by or deduced from his answers to the questions propounded to him, that his age (18 years or more) is shown from his appearance, testimony , or competently proved otherwise, as well as the fact that he is not blind, deaf or dumb and that he is able to read and write to the satisfaction of the Court, and that he has none of the disqualifications under Article 821 of the Civil Code. ARTICLE 830 Gago v. Mamuyac 49:902| Saranillo FACTS: Miguel Mamuyac died on January 2, 1922. It appears from the record that Miguel executed a last will and testament on July 27, 1918. Gago presented such will for probate which was opposed by Cornelio Mamuyac et. al. Said petition for probate was denied on the ground that the deceased executed another will on April 16, 1919. Gago presented the April 16 will for probate which was again opposed by Cornelio et. al. alleging that the will presented by Gago is a carbon copy of the original April 16 will; such will was cancelled during the lifetime of the deceased; and that said will was not the last will and testament of the deceased. The RTC found that the deceased executed another will on December 30, 1920. ISSUE:
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and each copy was executed with all the formalities and requirements of the law, then the duplicate may be admitted in evidence when it is made to appear that the original has been lost and was not cancelled or destroyed by the testator. Casiano v. CA 158 SCRA 451 | Sia FACTS: On October 20, 1963, Adriana Maloto died leaving as heirs her niece and nephews, the petitioners Aldina Maloto-Casiano and Constancio, Maloto, and the private respondents Panfilo Maloto and Felino Maloto. Believing that the deceased did not leave behind a last will and testament, these four heirs commenced on November 4, 1963 an intestate proceeding for the settlement of their aunt's estate in the CFI of Iloilo. While the case was still pending the parties — Aldina, Constancio, Panfilo, and Felino — executed an agreement of extrajudicial settlement of Adriana's estate. The agreement provided for the division of the estate into four equal parts among the parties. The Malotos then presented the extrajudicial settlement agreement to the trial court for approval which the court did on March 21, 1964. 3 years later, Atty. Sulpicio Palma, a former associate of Adriana's counsel, the late Atty. Eliseo Hervas, discovered a document entitled "KATAPUSAN NGA PAGBUBULAT-AN (Testamento)," dated January 3,1940, and purporting to be the last will and testament of Adriana. Atty. Palma claimed to have found the testament, the original copy, while he was going through some materials inside the cabinet drawer formerly used by Atty. Hervas. The document was submitted to the clerk of court of the Iloilo CFI. Incidentally, while 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 of Adriana than what they received by virtue of the agreement of extrajudicial settlement they had earlier signed. The will likewise gives devises and legacies to other parties, among them being the petitioners Asilo de Molo, the Roman Catholic Church of Molo, and Purificacion Miraflor. Aldina and Constancio, joined by the other devisees and legatees named in the will, filed in the same court which approved the EJ settelement a motion for reconsideration and annulment of the proceedings therein and for the allowance of the will which was denied by the CFI. Upon petition to the SC for certiorari and mandamus, the SC dismissed that petition and advised that a separate proceeding for the probate of the alleged will would be the appropriate vehicle to thresh out the matters raised by the petitioners. The CFI and CA found that the will to be probated had been revoked by the burning thereof by the housemaid upon instruction of the testatrix. ISSUE: W/N the will was revoked by Adriana. HELD: No. The provisions of the new Civil Code pertinent to the issue can be found in Article 830. The physical act of destruction of a will, like burning in this case, does not per se constitute an effective revocation, unless the destruction is coupled with animus revocandi on the part of the testator. It is not imperative that the physical destruction be done by the testator himself. It may be performed by another person but under the express direction and in the presence of the testator. Of course, it goes without saying that the document destroyed must be the will itself. "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 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, Guadalupe, 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 then, the burning was not in her presence. Both witnesses, Guadalupe and Eladio, were one in stating that they were the only ones present at the place where the stove
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(presumably in the kitchen) was located in which the papers proffered as a will were burned. The two witnesses were illiterate and does not appear to be unequivocably positive that the document burned was indeed Adriana's will. Guadalupe believed that the papers she destroyed was the will only because, according to her, Adriana told her so. Eladio, on the other hand, obtained his information that the burned document was the will because Guadalupe told him so, thus, his testimony on this point is double hearsay. It is an important matter of public interest that a purported win is not denied legalization on dubious grounds. Otherwise, the very institution of testamentary succession will be shaken to its very foundations. ARTICLE 838 Gallanosa v. Arcangel 83 SCRA 676 | JEN SUCCESSION REVIEWER FACTS: Florentino Hitosis was a childless widower and was survived by his brother Lito. In his will, Florentino bequeathed his ½ share in the conjugal estate to his second wife, Tecla, and, should Tecla predecease him, as was the case, his ½ share would be assigned to spouses Gallanosa. Pedro Gallanosa was Tecla’s son by her first marriage who grew up under the care of Florentino. His other properties were bequeathed to his protégé Adolfo Fortajada. Upon his death, a petition for the probate of his will was wile. Opposition was registered by Florentino’s brother, nephews and nieces. After a hearing, where the oppositors did not present any evidence, the Judge admitted the will to probate. The testator’s legal heirs did not appeal from the decree of probate and from the order of partition and distribution. Later, the legal heirs filed a case for recovery of 61 parcels of land against Pedro alleging that they had been in continuous possession of those lands and praying that they be declared owners thereof. Pedro moved for a dismissal which was later granted by the Judge on the ground of res judicata. The legal heirs did not appeal from the order of dismissal. 15 years after the dismissal of the first civil case and 28 years after the probate of the will, the legal heirs filed a case for “annulment of the will” alleging fraud and deceit. The court dismissed said action. However, the court set aside the dismissal after the heirs filed a motion for reconsideration. Hence, this appeal. ISSUE: Whether the legal heirs have a cause of action for the “annulment” of the will of Florentino and for the recovery of the 61 parcels of land adjudicated under that will to the petitioners. HELD: NO. The SC held that the lower court committed a grave abuse of discretion in setting aside its order of dismissal and ignoring the testamentary case and the first civil case which is the same as the instant case. It is evident that second civil case is barred by res judicata and by prescription. The decree of probate is conclusive as to the due execution or formal validity of the will. That means that the testator was of sound and disposing mind at the time he executed the will and was not acting under duress, menace, fraud, or undue influence; that the will was signed by him in the presence of the required number of witnesses, and that the will is genuine. Accordingly, these facts cannot again be questioned in a subsequent proceeding, not even in a criminal action for the forgery of the will. After the finality of the allowance of a will, the issue as to the voluntariness of its execution cannot be raised anymore. The SC also held that the decree of adjudication, having rendered in a proceeding in rem, is binding upon the whole world. Moreover, the dismissal of the first civil case, which is a judgment in personam, was an adjudication on the merits. Thus. It constitutes a bar by former judgment under the Rules of Court. The SC also held that the lower court erred in saying that the action for the recovery of the lands had not prescribed. The SC
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ruled that the Art. 1410 of NCC (the action or defense for the declaration of the inexistence of a contract does not prescribe) cannot apply to last wills and testaments. The Rules of Court does not sanction an action for “annulment” of a will. A final decree of probate is conclusive as to the due execution of the will. A decree of adjudication in a testate proceeding is binding on the whole world.After the period for seeking relief from a final order or judgment under Rule 38 of the Rules of court has expired, a final judgment or order can be set aside only on the grounds of: (a) lack of jurisdiction or lack of due process of law or (b) that the judgment was obtained by means of extrinsic or collateral fraud. In the latter case, the period for annulling the judgment is four (4) years from the discovery of fraud. The Civil Law rule that an action for declaration of inexistence of a contract does not prescribe cannot be applied to last wills and testaments. Dela Cerna v. Potot 12 SCRA 576 | JEN SUCCESSION REVIEWER FACTS: Spouses Bernabe de la Serna and Gervasia Rebaca, executed a joint last will ad testament where they willed that their 2 parcels of land be given to Manuela Rebaca, their niece and that while each of them are living, he/she will continue to enjoy the fruits of the lands mentioned. Bernabe died. Gervasia submitted the will for probated. By order of Oct. 31, 1939, the Court admitted for probate the said will but only for the part of Bernabe. When Gervasia died, another petition for probate was instituted by Manuela, but because she and her attorney failed to appear in court, the petition was dismissed. When the same was heard, the CFI declared the will void for being executed contrary to the prohibition on joint wills. On appeal, the order was reversed. ISSUE: W/N the will may be probated. HELD:
Admittedly the probate of the will in 1939 was erroneous, however, because it was probated by a court of competent jurisdiction it has conclusive effect and a final judgment rendered on a petition for the probate of a will is binding upon the whole world. However, this is only with respect to the estate of the husband but cannot affect the estate of the wife; considering that a joint will is a separate will of each testator. The joint will being prohibited by law, its validity, in so far as the estate of the wife is concerned, must be reexamine and adjudicated de novo. The undivided interest of the wife should pass upon her death to her intestate heirs and not to the testamentary heir. Thus as to the disposition of the wife, the will cannot be given effect. A decree of probate decree is conclusive on the due execution and the formal validity of the will subject to such probate. Roberts v. Leonidas 129 SCRA 754 | Suarez FACTS: Grimm, an American resident of Manila, died in 1977. He was survived by his second wife (Maxine), their two children (Pete and Linda), and by his two children by a first marriage (Juanita and Ethel) which ended by divorce. Grimm executed two wills in San Francisco, California on January 23, 1959. One will disposed of his Philippine estate described as conjugal property of himself and his second wife. The second will disposed of his estate outside the Philippines. The two wills and a codicil were presented for probate in Utah by Maxine on March 1978. Maxine admitted that she received notice of the intestate petition filed in Manila by Ethel in January 1978. The Utah Court admitted the two wills and codicil to probate on April 1978 and was issued upon consideration of the stipulation between the attorneys for Maxine and Ethel.
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Also in April 1978, Maxine and Ethel, with knowledge of the intestate proceeding in Manila, entered into a compromise agreement in Utah regarding the estate. As mentioned, in January 1978, an intestate proceeding was instituted by Ethel. On March 1978, Maxine filed an opposition and motion to dismiss the intestate proceeding on the ground of pendency of the Utah probate proceedings. She submitted to the court a copy of Grimm’s will. However, pursuant to the compromise agreement, Maxine withdrew the opposition and the motion to dismiss. The court ignored the will found in the record.The estate was partitioned. In 1980, Maxine filed a petition praying for the probate of the two wills (already probated in Utah), that the partition approved by the intestate court be set aside and the letters of administration revoked, that Maxine be appointed executrix and Ethel be ordered to account for the properties received by them and return the same to Maxine. Maxine alleged that they were defrauded due to the machinations of Ethel, that the compromise agreement was illegal and the intestate proceeding was void because Grimm died testate so partition was contrary to the decedent’s wills. Ethel filed a motion to dismiss the petition which was denied by Judge Leonidas for lack of merit. ISSUE: Whether the judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in denying Ethel’s motion to dismiss. HELD: We hold that respondent judge did not commit any grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack of jurisdiction, in denying Ethel's motion to dismiss. A testate proceeding is proper in this case because Grimm died with two wills and "no will shall pass either real or personal property unless it is proved and allowed" (Art. 838, Civil Code; sec. 1, Rule 75, Rules of Court). The probate of the will is mandatory. It is anomalous that the estate of a person who died testate should be settled in an intestate proceeding. Therefore, the intestate case should be consolidated with the testate proceeding and the judge assigned to the testate proceeding should continue hearing the two cases. Nepomuceno v. CA 139 SCRA 206 | Sumagaysay FACTS: Martin Jugo left a duly executed and notarized Last Will and Testament before he died. Petitioner was named as sole executor. It is clearly stated in the Will that he was legally married to a certain Rufina Gomez by whom he had two legitimate children, but he had been estranged from his lawful wife. In fact, the testator Martin Jugo and the petitioner were married despite the subsisting first marriage. The testator devised the free portion of his estate to petitioner. On August 21, 1974, the petitioner filed a petition for probate. On May 13, 1975, Rufina Gomez and her children filed an opposition alleging undue and improper influence on the part of the petitioner; that at the time of the execution of the Will, the testator was already very sick and that petitioner having admitted her living in concubinage with the testator. The lower court denied the probate of the Will on the ground that as the testator admitted in his Will to cohabiting with the petitioner. Petitioner appealed to CA. On June 2, 1982, the respondent court set aside the decision of the Court of First Instance of Rizal denying the probate of the will. The respondent court declared the Will to be valid except that the devise in favor of the petitioner is null and void. ISSUE: W/N the CA acted in excess of its jurisdiction when after declaring the last Will and Testament of the deceased Martin Jugo validly drawn, it went on to pass upon the intrinsic validity of the testamentary provision. HELD: No. The respondent court acted within its jurisdiction when after declaring the Will to be validly drawn, it went on to pass upon the intrinsic validity of the Will and declared the devise in favor of the petitioner null and void. The general rule is that in probate
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proceedings, the court's area of inquiry is limited to an examination and resolution of the extrinsic validity of the Will. The rule, however, is not inflexible and absolute. Given exceptional circumstances, the probate court is not powerless to do what the situation constrains it to do and pass upon certain provisions of the Will. The probate of a will might become an idle ceremony if on its face it appears to be intrinsically void. Where practical considerations demand that the intrinsic validity of the will be passed upon, even before it is probated, the court should meet the issue (Nuguid v. Nuguid) The Will is void under Article 739. The following donations shall be void: (1) Those made between persons who were guilty of adultery or concubinage at the time of the donation; and Article 1028. The prohibitions mentioned in Article 739, concerning donations inter vivos shall apply to testamentary provisions. There is no question from the records about the fact of a prior existing marriage when Martin Jugo executed his Will. The very wordings of the Will invalidate the legacy because the testator admitted he was disposing the properties to a person with whom he had been living in concubinage. Reyes v. CA 281 SCRA 277 | Tan FACTS: This case involves a 383 sq.m. parcel of land owned by pettitioner’s and respondents’ father. Petitioner alleges that a Deed of Exrajudicial Partition (Deed) was entered into between him and the respondents. Petitioner managed to register 335 sq.m. of the land under his name; while 50 sq.m. of the land was registered under the name of his sister, Paula (one of the respondents). After discovering the registration of the Deed, respondents denied having knowledge of its execution and disclaimed having signed the same; nor did they ever waive their rights, shares and interest in the subject parcel of land. According to respondents, subject Deed was fraudulently prepared by petitioner and that their signatures thereon were forged. They also assert that one Atty. Jose Villena, the Notary Public who notarized the said Deed was not even registered in the list of accredited Notaries Public of Pasay City. Thereafter, petitioner executed a Deed of Absolute Sale selling 240 square meters of the land to his children. After the property was partitioned, petitioner, his children and private respondent Paula allegedly executed a Deed of Co-owners' Partition dividing the property among themselves. This led the respondents to file a Complaint for "Annulment of Sale and Damages With Prayer for Preliminary Injunction/Restraining Order" before the RTC, which ruled that private respondents' signatures on the questioned Deed of Extrajudicial Partition and Settlement were indeed forged and simulated. The CA affirmed. Hence, this petition. ISSUES: 1. Whether the Deed was forged. 2. Whether petitioner(s) had become absolute owners of the subject property by virtue of acquisitive prescription. RULING: 1. YES. Petitioner(s) cast doubt on the findings of the lower court as affirmed by the Court of Appeals regarding the existence of forgery. Factual findings of the trial court, adopted
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and confirmed by the Court of Appeals, are final and conclusive and may not be reviewed on appeal. Petitioners' ludicrous claim that private respondents imputed no deception on his part but only forgery of the subject Deed and the simulation of their signatures is nothing short of being oxymoronic. For what is forgery and simulation of signatures if not arrant deception! The allegation made by petitioner that the execution of a public document ratified before a notary public cannot be impugned by the mere denial of the signatory is baseless. It should be noted that there was a finding that the subject Deed was notarized by one Atty. Villena who at that time was not commissioned as a notary in Pasay City. probate. Private respondents did not appeal from said order. In 1983, they filed a "Motion To Declare The Will Intrinsically Void." The trial court granted the motion and issued an order. Petitioner moved for reconsideration arguing that she is entitled to some compensation since she took care of Alejandro prior to his death although she admitted that they were not married to each other. Later on, Judge Zain B. Angas set aside the final and executory Order, as well as the Order directing the issuance of the writ of execution, on the ground that the order was merely "interlocutory", hence not final in character.
Petitioners cannot justify their ownership and possession of the subject parcel of land since they could not ave been possessors in good faith of the subject parcel of land considering the finding that at the very inception they forged the Deed of Extrajudicial Partition and Settlement which they claim to be the basis for their just title. Having forged the Deed and simulated the signatures of private respondents, petitioners, in fact, are in bad faith. The forged Deed containing private respondents' simulated signatures is a nullity and cannot serve as a just title. There can be no acquisitive prescription considering that the parcel of land in dispute is titled property, i.e., titled in the name of the late Bernardino Reyes, the father of both petitioner Florentino and the private respondents. Dorotheo v. CA 320 SCRA 12 | Tuazon FACTS: Private respondents were the legitimate children of Alejandro Dorotheo and Aniceta Reyes. The latter died in 1969 without her estate being settled. Alejandro died thereafter. Sometime in 1977, after Alejandro's death, petitioner, who claims to have taken care of Alejandro before he died, filed a special proceeding for the probate of the latter's last will and testament. In 1981, the court issued an order admitting Alejandro's will to
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ISSUE: May a last will and testament admitted to probate but declared intrinsically void in an order that has become final and executory still be given effect? HELD: No. A final and executory decision or order can no longer be disturbed or reopened no matter how erroneous it may be. In setting aside the Order that has attained finality, the trial court in effect nullified the entry of judgment made by the Court of Appeals. It is well settled that a lower court cannot reverse or set aside decisions or orders of a superior court, for to do so would be to negate the hierarchy of courts and nullify the essence of review. It has been ruled that a final judgment on probated will, albeit erroneous, is binding on the whole world. Camaya v. Patulandong 423 SCRA 480 | Valdez FACTS: On November 17, 1972, Rufina Reyes (testatrix) executed a notarized will wherein she devised Lot no. 288-A to her grandson Anselmo Mangulabnan. During her lifetime, the testatrix herself filed the petition for the probate of her will before the CFI. Later, on June 27, 1973, the testatrix executed a codicil modifying her will by devising the said Lot 288-A in favor of her four children Bernardo (the executor), Simplicia, Huillerma and Juan (all surnamed Patulandong), and her grandson Mangulabnan – to the extent of 1/5 each. Mangulabnan later sought the delivery to him by executor Patulandong of the title of Lot 288-A, but Patulandong refused to heed the request because of the codicial which modified the will of the testatrix. Thus, Mangulabnan filed an ‘action for partition’ against Patulandong in the RTC. The court in this partition ordered the partitioning of the property. However, the court holds that ‘the partition is without prejudice to the probate of the codicil in accordance with the Rules of Court.’ So, by virtue of the decision in partition case, Mangulabnan caused the cancellation of the title of the testatrix over Lot 288-A, and another TCT was issued in his name. Mangulabnan later sold to herein petitioners Camayas Lot no. 288-A by a Deed of Sale, and thus, a TCT was issued under the name of the Camayas. However, come now the decision of the probate court admitting the codicil, and disposing that the Deed of Sale in favor of the Camayas, and the corresponding TCT issued in their name are null and void, and that the Register of Dees was ordered to issue instead corresponding certificates of titles to the aforesaid four children of the testatrix, and her grandson Mangulabnan to the extent of 1/5 each pursuant to the codicil. The Camayas and Mangulabnan filed an MR. But the probate court denied this. The CA affirmed the decision of the probate court. Thus, the case was brought to the SC via a petition for review on certiorari. ISSUES: 1. Whether the probate court exceeded its jurisdiction when it declared null and void and ordered the cancellation of the TCT of Camayas and the deed of sale. 2. Whether the final judgment in partition case bars the allowance of the codicil. HELD:
1. As to the first issue, the probate court exceeded its
jurisdiction when it declared the deed of sale as null and void, and also as to the cancellation of the TCTs under the name of the Camayas. It is well-settled rule that a probate court or one in charge of proceedings whether testate or intestate cannot adjudicate or determine title to properties claimed to be a part of the estate and which are equally claimed to belong to outside parties. All that said court could do as regards said properties is to determine whether they should not be included in the inventory. If there is no dispute, well and good; but if there is, then the parties, the administrator, and the opposing parties have to resort to an ordinary action for final determination of the conflicting claims of title because the probate court cannot do so. Having been apprised of the fact that the property in question was in the possession of third parties and more important, covered by a transfer certificate of title issued in the
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name of such third parties, the respondent court should have denied the motion of the respondent administrator and excluded the property in question from the inventory of the property of the estate. It had no authority to deprive such third persons of their possession and ownership of the property. The probate court exceeded its jurisdiction when it declared the deed of sale and the titles of the Camayas as null and void, it having had the effect of depriving them possession and ownership of the property. Basilia Austria vda. de Cruz filed with the CFI of Rizal a petition for probate, ante mortem, of her last will and testament. The probate was opposed by the present petitioners, who are nephews and nieces of Basilia. The will was subsequently allowed with the bulk of her estate designated for respondents, all of whom were Basilia’s legally adopted children. The petitioners, claiming to be the nearest of kin of Basilia, assert that the respondents had not in fact been adopted by the decedent in accordance with law, thereby making them mere strangers to the decedent and without any right to succeed as heirs. Petitioners argue that this circumstance should have left the whole estate of Basilia open to intestacy with petitioners being the compulsory heirs. It is alleged by petitioners that the language used imply that Basilia was deceived into believing that she was legally bound to bequeath one-half of her entire estate to the respondents as the latter's legitime, with the inference that respondents would not have instituted the respondents as heirs had the fact of spurious adoption been known to her. The petitioners inferred that from the use of the terms, "sapilitang tagapagmana" (compulsory heirs) and "sapilitang mana" (legitime), the impelling reason or cause for the institution of the respondents was the testatrix's belief that under the law she could not do otherwise. Thus Article 850 of the Civil Code applies whereby, “the statement of a false cause for the institution of an heir shall be considered as not written, unless it appears from the will that the testator would not have made such institution if he had known the falsity of such cause.” ISSUE: W/N the lower court committed grave abuse of discretion in barring the petitioners nephews and niece from registering their claim even to properties adjudicated by the decedent in her will. HELD: No. Before the institution of heirs may be annulled under article 850 of the Civil Code, the following requisites must concur: First, the cause for the institution of heirs must be stated in the will; second, the cause must be shown to be false; and third, 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
2. As to the second issue, petitioners argue that by allowing
the codicil to probate, it in effect amended the final judgment in the partition case which is not allowed by law; and that petitioner Camayas are innocent purchasers for value and enjoy the legal presumption that the transfer was lawful. Petitioners’ argument does not persuade. Though the judgment in the partition case had become final and executory as it was not appealed, it specifically provided in its dispositive portion that the decision was "without prejudice [to] ... the probate of the codicil." The rights of the prevailing parties in said case were thus subject to the outcome of the probate of the codicil. The probate court being bereft of authority to rule upon the validity of petitioners’ titles, there is no longer any necessity to dwell on the merits of petitioners Camayas’ claim that they are innocent purchasers for value and enjoy the legal presumption that the transfer was lawful. The petition is granted in part. The decision of the probate court allowing the codicil is affirmed. But, the declaration of the aforesaid Deed of Sale, and the order to reissue corresponding certificates of titles to the four children of the testratrix, and her grandson Mangulabnan are set aside, without prejudice to the respondent’s ventilation of their right in an appropriate action. ARTICLE 850 Austria v. Reyes 31 SCRA 754 | Vargas FACTS:
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decedent's will does not state in a specific or unequivocal manner the cause for such institution of heirs. Absent such we look at other considerations. The decedent’s disposition of the free portion of her estate, which largely favored the respondents, compared with the relatively small devise of land which the decedent left for her blood relatives, shows a perceptible inclination on her part to give the respondents more than what she thought the law enjoined her to give to them. Excluding the respondents from the inheritance, considering that petitioner nephews and nieces would succeed to the bulk of the testate by virtue of intestacy, would subvert the clear wishes of the decedent. 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, as was done in this case. Intestacy should be avoided and the wishes of the testator should be allowed to prevail. Granted that a probate court has found, by final judgment, that the decedent possessed testamentary capacity and her last will was executed free from falsification, fraud, trickery or undue influence, it follows that giving full expression to her will must be in order. ARTICLE 854 Reyes v. Barretto-Datu 19 SCRA 85 | Ventura FACTS: Bibiano Barretto was married to Maria Gerardo. When Bibiano Barretto died he left his share in a will to Salud Barretto and Lucia Milagros Barretto and a small portion as legacies to his two sisters Rosa Barretto and Felisa Barretto and his nephew and nieces. The usufruct of a fishpond was reserved for his widow, Maria Gerardo. Maria Gerardo, as administratrix prepared a project of partition. It was approved and the estate was distributed and the shares delivered. Later on, Maria Gerardo died. Upon her death, it was discovered that she executed two wills, in the first, she instituted Salud and Milagros, both surnamed Barretto, as her heirs; and, in the second, she revoked the same and left all her properties in favor of Milagros Barretto alone. The later will was allowed and the first rejected. In rejecting the first will presented by Tirso Reyes, as guardian of the children of Salud Barretto, the LC held that Salud was not the daughter of the decedent Maria Gerardo by her husband Bibiano Barretto. This ruling was appealed to the SC, which affirmed the same. Having thus lost this fight for a share in the estate of Maria Gerardo, as a legitimate heir of Maria Gerardo, plaintiff now falls back upon the remnant of the estate of the deceased Bibiano Barretto, which was given in usufruct to his widow Maria Gerardo. Hence, this action for the recovery of one-half portion, thereof. This action afforded the defendant an opportunity to set up her right of ownership, not only of the fishpond under litigation, but of all the other properties willed and delivered to Salud Barretto, for being a spurious heir, and not entitled to any share in the estate of Bibiano Barretto, thereby directly attacking the validity, not only of the project of partition, but of the decision of the court based thereon as well. ISSUE:
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W/N the partition from which Salud acquired the fishpond is void ab initio and Salud did not acquire valid title to it. HELD: NO. Salud Barretto admittedly had been instituted heir in the late Bibiano Barretto's last will and testament together with defendant Milagros; hence, the partition had between them could not be one such had with a party who was believed to be an heir without really being one, and was not null and void. The legal precept (Article 1081) does not speak of children, or descendants, but of heirs (without distinction between forced, voluntary or intestate ones), and the fact that Salud happened not to be a daughter of the testator does not preclude her being one of the heirs expressly named in his testament; for Bibiano Barretto was at liberty to assign the free portion of his estate to whomsoever he chose. While the share (½) assigned to Salud impinged on the legitime of Milagros, Salud did not for that reason cease to be a testamentary heir of Bibiano Barretto. Nor does the fact that Milagros was allotted in her father's will a share smaller than her legitime invalidate the institution of Salud as heir, since there was here no preterition, or total ommission of a forced heir. Aznar v. Duncan 17 SCRA 590 | Villarica FACTS: Christensen died testate. The will was admitted to probate. The court declared that Helen Garcia was a natural child of the deceased. The Court of First Instance equally divided the properties of the estate of Christensen between Lucy Duncan (whom testator expressly recognized in his will as his daughter) and Helen Garcia. In the order, the CFI held that Helen Garcia was preterited in the will thus, the institution of Lucy Duncan as heir was annulled and the properties passed to both of them as if the deceased died intestate. ISSUE: Whether the estate, after deducting the legacies, should be equally divided or whether the inheritance of Lucy as instituted heir should be merely reduced to the extent necessary to cover the legitime of Helen Garcia, equivalent to ¼ of the entire estate. HELD: The inheritance of Lucy should be merely reduced to cover the legitime of Helen Garcia. Christensen refused to acknowledge Helen Garcia as his natural daughter and limited her share to a legacy of P3,600.00. When a testator leaves to a forced heir a legacy worth less than the legitime, but without referring to the legatee as an heir or even as a relative, and willed the rest of the estate to other persons, the heir could not ask that the institution of the heirs be annulled entirely, but only that the legitime be completed.
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