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IAC May 7, 1990

FACTS: Aniceto Yanes owned 2 parcels of land Lot 773-A and Lot 773-B.
Aniceto Yanes was survived by his children, Rufino, Felipe and Teodora. Herein
private respondents, Estelita, Iluminado and Jesus, are the children of Rufino who
died in 1962 while the other private respondents, Antonio and Rosario Yanes, are
children of Felipe. Teodora was survived by her child, Jovita (Jovito) Albib.
It is established that Rufino and his children left the province to settle in other
places as a result of the outbreak of World War II. According to Estelita, from the
Japanese time up to peace time, they did not visit the parcels of land in question
but after liberation, when her brother went there to get their share of the sugar
produced therein, he was informed that Fortunato Santiago, Fuentebella
(Puentevella) and Alvarez were in possession of Lot 773.
After Fuentebellas death, Arsenia Vda. de Fuentebella sold said lots for P6,000.00 to
Rosendo Alvarez. On May 26, 1960, Teodora Yanes and the children of her brother
Rufino filed a complaint against Fortunato Santiago, Arsenia Vda. de Fuentebella,
Alvarez and the Register of Deeds of Negros Occidental for the return of the
ownership and possession of Lots 773 and 823.
During the pendency of said case, Alvarez sold the Lots for P25,000.00 to Dr.
Rodolfo Siason. CFI rendered judgment ordering defendant Rosendo Alvarez to
reconvey to plaintiffs the lots.
ISSUE: W/N the liability of Rosendo Alvarez arising from the sale of Lots Nos. 773-A
and 773-B could be legally passed or transmitted by operation of law to the
petitioners without violation of law and due process.
RULING: The doctrine obtaining in this jurisdiction is on the general transmissibility
of the rights and obligations of the deceased to his legitimate children and heirs.
The binding effect of contracts upon the heirs of the deceased party is not altered
by the provision of our Rules of Court that money debts of a deceased must be
liquidated and paid from his estate before the residue is distributed among said
heirs (Rule 89). The reason is that whatever payment is thus made from the estate
is ultimately a payment by the heirs or distributees, since the amount of the paid
claim in fact diminishes or reduces the shares that the heirs would have been
entitled to receive.
Under our law, therefore, the general rule is that a partys contractual rights and
obligations are transmissible to the successors. The rule is a consequence of the
progressive depersonalization of patrimonial rights and duties.
Roman concept of a relation from person to person, the obligation has evolved into
a relation from patrimony to patrimony, with the persons occupying only a

representative position, barring those rare cases where the obligation is strictly
personal, in consideration of its performance by a specific person and by no
other. . . .

Petitioners being the heirs of the late Rosendo Alvarez, they cannot escape the legal
consequences of their fathers transaction, which gave rise to the present claim for
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
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
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

Bellis vs. Bellis [20 SCRA 358]

Facts: Amos G. Bellis, a citizen of the State of Texas, died a resident of Texas. The
will he had executed in the Philippines directed that his distributable Philippine
estate should be divided in trusts. In the project of partition, the executor of the will
pursuant to the Twelfth clause of the testators Last Will and Testament- divided
the residuary estate into 7 equal portions for the benefit of the testators seven
legitimate children. Maria Christina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis filed their

respective oppositions on the ground that they were deprived of their legitimes as
illegitimate children, and, therefore, compulsory heirs of the deceased.
Issue: Whether or not the Texas law or the Philippine Law should be applied in the
case at bar.
Held: The Court held that since decedent is a citizen of the State of Texas and is
domiciled therein at the time of his death, Texas law should apply. Article 16 (2) and
Art 1039 render applicable the national law of the decedent, in intestate or
testamentary successions, with regard to 4 items: (a) the order of succession; (b)
the amount of successional rights ; (c)intrinsic validity of the provisions of the will;
and (d) the capacity to succeed. Under the laws of Texas, there are no forced heirs
or legitimes.

Garcia v. Lacuesta
G.R. L-4067 November 29, 1951
Ponente: Paras, C.J.

1. The CA disallowed the probate of the will of Antero Mercado dated Jan 1943. The
said will was written in Ilocano dialect.

2. The will appears to have been signed by Atty. Florentino Javier who wrote the
name of the testator followed below by 'A ruego del testador' and the name of
Florentino Javier. In effect, it was signed by another although under the express
direction of the testator. This fact however was not recited in the attestation clause.
Mercado also affixed a cross on the will.

3. The lower court admitted the will to probate but this order was reversed by the
Court of Appeals on the ground that the attestation failed to recite the facts
surrounding the signing of the testator and the witnesses.
Issue: Whether or not the attestation clause in the will is valid
HELD: NO the attestation is fatally defective for its failure to state that Antero or the
testator caused Atty. Javier to write the former's name under his express direction
as required by Sec. 618 of the Civil Procedure. Finally, on the cross affixed on the
will by the testator, the Court held that it is not prepared to liken the mere sign of a

cross to a thumb mark for obvious reasons- the cross does not have the
trustworthiness of a thumb mark so it is not considered as a valid signature.
Testate Estate of Cagro vs. Cagro
G.R. L-5826
1. The case is an appeal interposed by the oppositors from a decision of the CFI of
Samar which admitted to probate a will allegedly executed by Vicente Cagro who
died in Pambujan, Samar on Feb. 14, 1949.
2. The appellants insisted that the will is defective because the attestation was not
signed by the witnesses at the bottom although the page containing the same was
signed by the witnesses on the left hand margin.

3. Petitioner contended that the signatures of the 3 witnesses on the left hand
margin conform substantially to law and may be deemed as their signatures to the
attestation clause.
Issue: Whether or not the will is valid
HELD: Will is not valid. The attestation clause is a memorandum of the facts
attending the execution of the will. It is 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 negatives their participation.
Moreover, the signatures affixed on the let hand margin is not substantial
conformance to the law. The said signatures were merely in conformance with the
requirement that the will must be signed on the left-hand margin of all its pages. If
the attestation clause is unsigned by the 3 witnesses at the bottom, it would be
easier to add clauses to a will on a subsequent occasion and in the absence of the
testator and any or all of the witnesses.
The probate of the will is denied.
Javellana vs. Ledesma
G.R. No. L-7179
1. The CFI of Iloilo admitted to probate a will and codicil executed by the deceased
Apolinaria Ledesma in July 1953. This testament was deemed executed on May

1950 and May 1952. The contestant was the sister and nearest surviving relative of
the deceased. She appealed from this decision alleging that the will were not
executed in accordance with law.
2. The testament was executed at the house of the testatrix. One the other hand,
the codicil was executed after the enactment of the New Civil Code (NCC), and
therefore had to be acknowledged before a notary public. Now, the contestant, who
happens to be one of the instrumental witnesses asserted that after the codicil was
signed and attested at the San Pablo hospital, that Gimotea (the notary) signed and
sealed it on the same occasion. Gimotea, however, said that he did not do so, and
that the act of signing and sealing was done afterwards.
2. One of the allegations was that the certificate of acknowledgement to the codicil
was signed somewhere else or in the office of the notary. The ix and the witnesses
at the hospital, was signed and sealed by the notary only when he brought it in his

Issue: Whether or not the signing and sealing of the will or codicil in the absence of
the testator and witnesses affects the validity of the will
RULING: NO. Unlike in the Old Civil Code of 1899, the NCC does not require that the
signing of the testator, the witnesses and the notary be accomplished in one single
act. All that is required is that every will must be acknowledged before a notary
public by the testator and witnesses. The subsequent signing and sealing is not part
of the acknowledgement itself nor of the testamentary act. Their separate execution
out of the presence of the testator and the witnesses cannot be a violation of the
rule that testaments should be completed without interruption.

Dela Cerna v. Potot Digest

1. The spouses Bernabe Dela Serna and Gerasisa Rebabca executed a joint will
where they gave two (2) parcels of land to manuela Rebaca, a niece, as they didn't
have their own child. When Bernabe died, the said will was probated in 1939.
2. Another petition for probate of the same will insofar as Gervasia was concerned
was filed in 1952 but due to the failure of the petitioner (Manuela) to appears, the
same was dismissed in 1954.
3. The CFI held the petition (Bernabe probate) to be null and void as it is contrary to
law. While the Court of Appeals reversed and held that the decree of probate in

1939 was issued by a court of probate jurisdiction and conclusive as to the due
execution of the will. Hence this appeal.
Issue: Whether or not the will is valid
RULING: The Supreme Court affirmed the CA decision and held that Once a decree
of probate becomes final in accordance with the rules of procedure, it is res
judicata. THe final decree of probate entered in 1939 in the CFI of Cebu is
conclusive as to the last will of Bernabe despite the fact that even then the Civil
Code already decreed the invalidity of joint wills. (There was an error on the court
but the decree has now become final.)
The probate court committed an error of law which should have been corrected on
appeals but which did not affect the jurisdiction of the probate court, nor the
conclusive effect of its final decision. A decision which is binding upon the whole
Nevertheless, the probate in 1939 only affected the share of Bernabe and could not
include the disposition of the share of his wife which was still alive then, her
properties were still not within the jurisdiction of the court. Hence, the validity of the
will with respect to her, must be on her death, be re-examined and adjudicated de
novo -- since a joint will is considered a separate will of each testator.