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G.R. No.

L-24365 June 30, 1966


IN THE MATTER OF THE INTESTATE ESTATE OF EDARD E. !HRISTENSEN, "e#e$%e".
ADOLFO !. A&NAR, executor and appellee,
vs.
MARIA L'!( !HRISTENSEN D'N!AN, oppositor and appellant.
MARIA HELEN !HRISTENSEN, oppositor and appellee.
J. Salonga and L. M. Abellera for oppositor and appellee.
Carlos Dominguez, Jr. for executor-appellee.
M. R. Sotelo for appellant.
MA)ALINTAL, J.:
Edward E. Christensen, a citizen of California with domicile in the Philippines, died leaving a will
executed on March 5, 1951. he will was admitted to pro!ate !" the Court of #irst $nstance of %avao
in its decision of #e!ruar" &', 195(. $n that same decision the court declared that Maria )elen
Christensen *arcia +hereinafter referred to as )elen *arcia, was a natural child of the deceased.
he declaration was appealed to this Court, and was affirmed in its decision of #e!ruar" 1(, 195'
+*.-. .o. /011('(,.
$n another incident relative to the partition of the deceased1s estate, the trial court approved the
pro2ect su!mitted !" the executor in accordance with the provisions of the will, which said court
found to !e valid under the law of California. )elen *arcia appealed from the order of approval, and
this Court, on 3anuar" 41, 1954, reversed the same on the ground that the validit" of the provisions
of the will should !e governed !" Philippine law, and returned the case to the lower court with
instructions that the partition !e made as provided !" said law +*.-. .o. /0156(9,.
7n 7cto!er &9, 195(, the Court of #irst $nstance of %avao issued an order approving the pro2ect of
partition su!mitted !" the executor, dated 3une 48, 195(, wherein the properties of the estate were
divided e9uall" !etween Maria /uc" Christensen %uncan +named in the will as Maria /uc"
Christensen %ane", and hereinafter referred to as merel" /uc" %uncan,, whom the testator had
expressl" recognized in his will as his daughter +natural, and )elen *arcia, who had !een 2udiciall"
declared as such after his death. he said order was !ased on the proposition that since )elen
*arcia had !een preterited in the will the institution of /uc" %uncan as heir was annulled, and hence
the properties passed to !oth of them as if the deceased had died intestate, saving onl" the legacies
left in favor of certain other persons, which legacies have !een dul" approved !" the lower court and
distri!uted to the legatees.
he case is once more !efore us on appeal, this time !" /uc" %uncan, on the sole 9uestion of
whether the estate, after deducting the legacies, should pertain to her and to )elen *arcia in e9ual
shares, or whether the inheritance of /uc" %uncan as instituted heir should !e merel" reduced to the
extent necessar" to cover the legitime of )elen *arcia, e9uivalent to 1:( of the entire estate.
he will of Edward E. Christensen contains, among others, the following clauses which are pertinent
to the issue in this case;
4. $ declare ... that $ have !ut 7.E +1, child, named M<-$< /=C> C)-$?E.?E. +.ow
Mrs. @ernard %ane",, who was !orn in the Philippines a!out twent"0eight "ears ago, who is
now residing at .o. 555 -odger >oung Aillage, /os <ngeles, California, =.?.<.
(. $ further declare that $ now have no living ascendants, and no descendants except m"
a!ove0named daughter, M<-$< /=C> C)-$?E.?E. %<.E>.
x x x x x x x x x
6. $ give, devise, and !e9ueath unto M<-$< )E/E. C)-$?E.?E., now married to
Eduardo *arcia, a!out eighteen "ears of age and who, notwithstanding the fact that she was
!aptized Christensen, is not in an" wa" related to me, nor has she !een at an" time adopted
!" me, and who, from all information $ have now resides in Egpit, %igos, %avao, Philippines,
the sum of )-EE )7=?<.% ?$B )=.%-E% PE?7? +P4,588.88,, Philippine Currenc",
the same to !e deposited in trust for the said Maria )elen Christensen with the %avao
@ranch of the Philippine .ational @anC, and paid to her at the rate of 7ne )undred Pesos
+P188.88,, Philippine Currenc" per month until the principal thereof as well as an" interest
which ma" have accrued thereon, is exhausted.
x x x x x x x x x
1&. $ here!" give, devise and !e9ueath, unto m" well0!eloved daughter, the said M<-$<
/=C> C)-$?E.?E. %<.E> +Mrs. @ernard %ane", now residing, as aforesaid, at .o. 555
-odger >oung Aillage, /os <ngeles, California, =.?.<., all the income from the rest,
remainder, and residue of m" propert" and estate, real, personal and:or mixed, of
whatsoever Cind or character, and wheresoever situated, of which $ ma" !e possessed at m"
death and which ma" have come to me from an" source whatsoever, during her lifetimeD
Provided, however, that should the said M<-$< /=C> C)-$?E.?E. %<.E> at an"time
prior to her decease having living issue, then and in that event, the life interest herein given
shall terminate, and if so terminated, then $ give, devise, and !e9ueath to m" daughter, the
said M<-$< /=C> C)-$?E.?E. %<.E> the rest, remainder and residue of m" propert"
with the same force and effect as if $ had originall" so given, devised and !e9ueathed it to
herD and provided, further, that should the said M<-$< /=C> C)-$?E.?E. %<.E> die
without living issue, then, and in that event, $ give, devise and !e9ueath all the rest,
remainder and residue of m" propert" one0half +1:&, to m" well0!eloved sister, Mrs. C<--$E
/7=$?E C. @7-7., now residing at .o. &1&(, wentieth ?treet, @aCersfield, California,
=.?.<., and one0half +1:&, to the children of m" deceased !rother, 37?EP) C.
C)-$?E.?E., namel"; Mrs. Carol #. -uggaver, of /os <ngeles, California, =.?.<., and
3oseph -a"mond Christensen, of Manhattan @each, California, =.?.<., share and share
aliCe, the share of an" of the three a!ove named who ma" predecease me, to go in e9ual
parts to the descendants of the deceasedD and, provided further, that should m" sister Mrs.
Carol /ouise C. @orton die !efore m" own decease, then, and in that event, the share of m"
estate devised to her herein $ give, devise and !e9ueath to her children, Eliza!eth @orton de
reviEo, of Mexico Cit" MexicoD @ar!ara @orton Philips, of @aCersfield, California, =.?.<.,
and -ichard @orton, of @aCersfield, California, =.?.<., or to the heirs of an" of them who ma"
die !efore m" own decease, share and share aliCe.
he trial court ruled, and appellee now maintains, that there has !een preterition of )elen *arcia, a
compulsor" heir in the direct line, resulting in the annulment of the institution of heir pursuant to
<rticle '5( of the Civil Code, which provides;
<-. '5(. he preterition or omission of one, some, or all of the compulsor" heirs in the
direct line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will or !orn after the death of the
testator, shall annul the institution of heirD !ut the devises and legacies shall !e valid insofar
as the" are not inofficious.
7n the other hand, appellant contends that this is not a case of preterition, !ut is governed !" <rticle
985 of the Civil Code, which sa"s; F<n" compulsor" heir to whom the testator has left !" an" title
less than the legitime !elonging to him ma" demand that the same !e full" satisfied.F <ppellant also
suggests that considering the provisions of the will where!" the testator expressl" denied his
relationship with )elen *arcia, !ut left to her a legac" nevertheless although less than the amount of
her legitime, she was in effect defectivel" disinherited within the meaning of <rticle 91', which reads;
<-. 91'. %isinheritance without a specification of the cause, or for a cause the truth of
which, if contradicted, is not proved, or which is not one of those set forth in this Code, shall
annul the institution of heirs insofar as it ma" pre2udice the person disinheritedD !ut the
devices and legacies and other testamentar" dispositions shall !e valid to such extent as will
not impair the legitimate.
hus, according to appellant, under !oth <rticle 985 and 91', )elen *arcia is entitled onl" to her
legitime, and not to a share of the estate e9ual that of /uc" %uncan as if the succession were
intestate.
<rticle '5( is a reproduction of <rticle '1( of the ?panish Civil CodeD and <rticle 985 of <rticle '15.
Commenting on <rticle '15, Manresa explains;
Como dice *o"ena, en el caso de pretericion puede presumirse ignorancia o falta de
memoria en el testadorD en el de de2ar algo al heredero forzoso no. ste no se encuentra
pli!ado totalmente de su legitima" #a recibido por cual$uir titulo una porcion de los bienes
#ereditarios, porcion $ue no alcanza a completar la legitima, pero 9ue influe"e
poderosamente en el animo del legislador para decidirle a adoptar una solucion !ien
diferente de la seEalada para el caso de pretericion.
El testador no ha olvidado por completo al heredero forzosoD le ha de2ado !ienesD pero
haciendo un calculo e9uivocado, ha repartido en favor de extraEos o en favor de otros
legitimarios por via de legado donacion o me2ora ma"or cantidad de la 9ue la le" de
consentia disponer. El heredero forzoso no puede perder su legitima, pero tampoco puede
pedir mas 9ue la misma. %e a9ui su derecho a reclamar solamente lo 9ue le faltaD al
complemento de la porcion 9ue forzosamente la corresponde.
... %e2ar el testador por cual9uier titulo, e9uivale a disponer en testamento por titulo de
herencia legado o me2ora, " en favor de legitimarios, de alguna cantidad o porcion de !ienes
menos 9ue la legitima o igual a la misma. al sentido, 9ue es el mas proprio en al articulo
'15, no pugna tampoco con la doctrina de la le".Cuando en el testamento se de%a algo al
#eredero forzoso, la pretericion es incompleta" es mas formularia $ue real. Cuando en el
testamento nada se de%a el legitimario, #a& !erdadera pretericion. +5 Manresa, 6th Ed.,
1951, p. (46.,
7n the difference !etween preterition of a compulsor" heir and the right to asC for completion of his
legitime, ?anchez -oman sa"s;
/a desheredacion, como expresa, es siempre voluntariaD la pretericion puede serlo pero se
presume involuntaria la omision en 9ue consiste en cuanto olvida o no atiende el testador en
su testamento a la satisfaccion del derecho a la legitima del heredero forzoso preterido,
prescindiendo a!soluta " totalmente de el & no mencionandole en ninguna de sus
disposiciones testamentarias, o no institu&endole en parte alguna de la #erencia, ni por titulo
de #eredero ni por el de legatar o aun$ue le mencionara o nom!rara sin de2arle mas o
menos !ienes. ?i le de2ara algunos, por pocos $ue sean e insuficientes para cubrir su
legitima, "a no seria caso de pretericion, sino de complemento de a9uella. El primer
supuesto o de pretericion se regula por el articulo '1(, " produce accion de nulidad de la
institucion de herederoD " el segundo, o de complemento de legitima por el '15 " solo
original la accion ad suplementum, para completar la legitima. +?anchez -oman, omo A$,
Aol. &, p. 1141.,
Manresa defines preterition as the omission of the heir in the will, either !" not naming him at all or,
while mentioning him as father, son, etc., !" not instituting him as heir without disinheriting him
expressl", nor assigning to #im some part of t#e properties. Manresa continues;
?e necesita pues +a, Gue la omision se refiera a un heredero forzosoD +!, Gue la omision
sea completaD 9ue el heredero forzoso nada reci!a en el testamento.'()p#*'.+,t
x x x x x x x x x
@. -ue la omision sea completa H Esta condicion se deduce del mismo <rticulo '1( "
resulta con evidencia al relacionar este articulo con el '15. El heredero forzoso a 9uien el
testador de2a algo por cual9uier titulo en su testamento, no se halla propiamente omitido
pues se le nom!ra " se le reconoce participacion en los !ienes hereditarios. Podria
discutirse en el <rticulo '1( si era o no necesario 9ue se reconociese el derecho del
heredero como tal heredero, pero el articulo '15 desvanece esta duda. <9uel se ocupa de
privacion completa o total, tacita este, de la privacion parcial. /os efectos de!en ser " son,
como veremos completamente distintos +5 Manresa, p. (&'.,
/a privacion de la legitima puede ser total o parcial.
Privar totalmente de la legitima es negarla en a!soluto al legitimario, despo2arle de ella por
completo. < este caso se refiere el articulo '1(. Privar parcialmente de la legitima, es
menguarla o reducirla de2ar al legitimario una porcion, menor 9ue la 9ue le corresponde. <
este caso se refiere el articulo '15. El '14 sienta, pues, una regla general, " las
consecuencias del 9ue !rantamiento de esta regla se determina en los articulos '1( " '15.
+5 Manresa p. (1'.,
<gain ?anchez -oman;
-. LA /M0SS0/1 SA 2/2AL. H <un9ue el articulo '1( no consigna de modo expreso
esta circunstancia de 9ue la pretericion o falta de mencion e institucion o disposicion
testamentaria a su favor, sea total, completa " a!soluta, asi se deduce de no hacer
distincion o salvedad alguna empleandola en terminos generalesD pero sirve a confirmarlo
de un modo induda!le el siguiente articulo '15, al decir 9ue el heredero forzoso a 9uien el
testador ha"a de2ado por cual9uier titulo, menos de la legitima 9ue la corresponda, podria
pedir el complemento de la misma, lo cual "a no son el caso ni los efectos de la
pretericion, $ue anula la institucion, sino simplemente los del suplemento necesario para
cu!rir su legitima. +?anchez -oman H omo A$, Aol. &.8 p. 1144.,
he 9uestion ma" !e posed; $n order that the right of a forced heir ma" !e limited onl" to the
completion of his legitime +instead of the annulment of the institution of heirs, is it necessar" that
what has !een left to him in the will F!" an" title,F as !" legac", !e granted to him in his capacit" as
heir, that is, a titulo de #erederoI $n other words, should he !e recognized or referred to in the will as
heirI his 9uestion is pertinent !ecause in the will of the deceased Edward E. Christensen )elen
*arcia is not mentioned as an heir H indeed her status as such is denied H !ut is given a legac" of
P4,588.88.
Jhile the classical view, pursuant to the -oman law, gave an affirmative answer to the 9uestion,
according to !oth Manresa +5 Manresa 6th 4rd. (45, and ?anchez -oman +omo A$, Aol. &.8 H p.
946,, that view was changed !" <rticle 5(5 of the FPro"ecto de Codigo de 1'51,F later on copied in
<rticle 985 of our own Code. ?anchez -oman, in the citation given a!ove, comments as follows;
-E?PEC7 %E/ C7MP/EME.7 %E /< /E*$$M<. H ?e inspira el Codigo en esta
materia en la doctrina clasica del %erecho romano " patrio +&,D pero con alguna racional
modificacion. Concedian a9uellos precedentes legales al heredero forzoso, a 9uien no se le
de2a!a por titulo de tal el completo de su legitima, la accion para invalidar la institucion
hecha en el testamento " reclamar " o!tener a9uella mediante el e2ercicio de la $uerella de
inoficioso, " aun cuando resultara favorecido como donotario, por otro titulo 9ue no fuera el
de heredero, sino al #onor de $ue se le pri!aba no dandole este caracter, & solo cuando era
instituido #eredero en parte o cantidad inferior a lo $ue le correspondiera por legitima, era
cuando bastaba el e%ercicio de la accion ad suplementum para completarla, sin necesidad
de anular las otras instituciones de #eredero o demas disposiciones contenidas en el
testamento.
El <rticulo '51 se aparta de este criterio estricto " se a2usta a la unica necesidad 9ue le
inspira cual es la de 9ue se complete la legitima del heredero forzoso, a 9uien por cual$uier
titulo se ha"a de2ado menos de lo 9ue le corresponda, " se le otorga tan solo el derecho de
pedir el complemento de la misma sin necesidad de 9ue se anulen las disposiciones
testamentarias, 9ue se reduciran en lo 9ue sean inoficiosas conforme al articulo '16, cu"a
interpretacion " sentido tienen "a en su apo"o la sancion de la 2urisprudencia +4,D siendo
condicion precisa 9ue lo 9ue se hu!iere de2ado de menos de la legitima al heredero forzoso,
lo ha"a sido en el testamento, o sea por disposicion del testador, segun lo revela el texto del
articulo, Fel heredero forzoso a 9uien el testador #a&a de%ado, etc., esto es por titulo de
legado o donacion mortis causa en el testamento ", no fuera de al. +?anchez -oman, omo
A$, Aol. &.8 H p. 946.,
Manresa cites particularl" three decisions of the ?upreme Court of ?pain dated 3anuar" 15, 1'95,
Ma" &5, 1916, and <pril &4, 194&, respectivel". $n each one of those cases the testator left to one
who was a forced heir a legac" worth less than the legitime, !ut without referring to the legatee as
an heir or even as a relative, and willed the rest of the estate to other persons. $t was held that <rticle
'15 applied, and the heir could not asC that the institution of heirs !e annulled entirel", !ut onl" that
the legitime !e completed. +5 Manresa, pp. (4', ((1.,
he foregoing solution is indeed more in consonance with the expressed wishes of the testator in the
present case as ma" !e gathered ver" clearl" from the provisions of his will. )e refused to
acCnowledge )elen *arcia as his natural daughter, and limited her share to a legac" of P4,588.88.
he fact that she was su!se9uentl" declared 2udiciall" to possess such status is no reason to
assume that had the 2udicial declaration come during his lifetime his su!2ective attitude towards her
would have undergone an" change and that he would have willed his estate e9uall" to her and to
/uc" %uncan, who alone was expressl" recognized !" him.
he decision of this Court in 1eri, et al. !. A3utin, 6( Phil. 1'5, is cited !" appellees in support of
their theor" of preterition. hat decision is not here applica!le, !ecause it referred to a will where
Fthe testator left all his propert" !" universal title to the children !" his second marriage, and +that,
without expressl" disinheriting the children !" his first marriage, he left nothing to them or, at least,
some of them.F $n the case at !ar the testator did not entirel" omit oppositor0appellee )elen *arcia,
!ut left her a legac" of P4,588.88.
he estate of the deceased Christensen upon his death consisted of 499 shares of stocCs in the
Christensen Plantation Compan" and a certain amount in cash. 7ne0fourth +1:(, of said estate
descended to )elen *arcia as her legitime. ?ince she !ecame the owner of her share as of the
moment of the death of the decedent +<rts. 66(, 666, Civil Code,, she is entitled to a corresponding
portion of all the fruits or increments thereof su!se9uentl" accruing. hese include the stocC
dividends on the corporate holdings. he contention of /uc" %uncan that all such dividends pertain
to her according to the terms of the will cannot !e sustained, for it would in effect impair the right of
ownership of )elen *arcia with respect to her legitime.
7ne point deserves to !e here mentioned, although no reference to it has !een made in the !rief for
oppositor0appellant. $t is the institution of su!stitute heirs to the estate !e9ueathed to /uc" %uncan in
the event she should die without living issue. his su!stitution results in effect from the fact that
under paragraph 1& of the will she is entitled onl" to the income from said estate, unless prior to her
decease she should have living issue, in which event she would inherit in full ownershipD otherwise
the propert" will go to the other relatives of the testator named in the will. Jithout deciding this,
point, since it is not one of the issues raised !efore us, we might call attention to the limitations
imposed !" law upon this Cind of su!stitution, particularl" that which sa"s that it can never !urden
the legitime +<rt. '5( Civil Code,, which means that the legitime must descend to the heir concerned
in fee simple.
Jherefore, the order of the trial court dated 7cto!er &9, 195(, approving the pro2ect of partition as
su!mitted !" the executor0appellee, is here!" set asideD and the case is remanded with instructions
to partition the hereditar" estate anew as indicated in this decision, that is, !" giving to oppositor0
appellee Maria )elen Christensen *arcia no more than the portion corresponding to her as legitime,
e9uivalent to one0fourth +1:(, of the hereditar" estate, after deducting all de!ts and charges, which
shall not include those imposed in the will of the decedent, in accordance with <rticle 98' of the Civil
Code. Costs against appellees in this instance.
Concepcion, C.J., J.4.L. Re&es, 4arrera, Dizon, Regala, J.5. 4engzon, 6aldi!ar and Sanc#ez, JJ.,
concur.
- E ? 7 / = $ 7 .
3ul" 48, 1956
MA)ALINTAL, J.:
7ppositor0appellant has filed an ex-parte petition dated 3ul" 11, 1955, maCing reference to an
alleged oversight and asCing for the corresponding correction, in the last paragraph !efore the
dispositive part of our decision, which reads as follows;
7ne point deserves to !e here mentioned, alt#oug# no reference to it #as been made in t#e brief for
oppositor-appellant. $t is the institution of su!stituted heirs to the estate !e9ueathed to /uc" %uncan
in the event she should die without living issue. his su!stitution results in effect from the fact that
under paragraph 1& of the will she is entitled onl" to the income from said estate, unless prior to her
decease she should have living issue, in which event she would inherit in full ownershipD otherwise
the propert" will go to the other relatives of the testator named in the will. Jithout deciding this
point, since it is not one of t#e issues raised before us, we might call attention to the limitations
imposed !" law upon this Cind of su!stitution, particularl" that which sa"s that it can never !urden
the legitime +<rt. '5(, Civil Code,, which means that the legitime must descend to the heir
concerned in fee simple. +%ecision, 3une 48, 1955, pages 1(015D emphasis ours,.
7ppositor0appellant points out that the matter of su!stitution of heirs was taCen up and discussed in
her !rief particularl" in pages &' and 4& thereof. his is indeed 9uite true, !ut the reference to and
discussion of the rights of the su!stitute heirs +called <merican heirs in the !rief, appears to !e
merel" for the purpose of refuting the theor" advanced !" appellees and not for the purpose of
having the rights of said heirs defined in so far as, under the terms of the will, the" ma" affect the
legitime of oppositor0appellant. his point of course was not and could hardl" have !een s9uarel"
raised as an issue inasmuch as the su!stitute heirs are not parties in this case. Je have
nevertheless called attention Fto the limitations imposed !" law upon this Cind of su!stitution,F
!ecause in the !rief for oppositor0appellant, at page (5, she maCes the conclusion Fthat the /ast Jill
and estament of Edward E. Christensen are valid under Philippine /aw and must be gi!en full force
and effectDF and to give them full force and effect would precisel" affect the legitime of oppositor0
appellant.
Jherefore, the last paragraph !efore the dispositive part of our decision 9uoted a!ove is amended
!" eliminating the following phrase in the first sentence; Falthough no reference to it has !een made
in the !rief for oppositor0appellant.F
Concepcion, C.J., Re&es, J.4.L., 4arrera, Dizon, 4engzon, J.5., 6aldi!ar and Sanc#ez, JJ., concur.
Regala and Castro, JJ., too3 no part.