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CASE: GALLANOSA VS.

ARCANGEL
83 SCRA 676
G.R. No. L-29300
June 21, 1978

FACTS:
Florentino Hitosis was a childless widower and was survived by his brother Lito. In his will,
Florentino bequeathed his share in the conjugal estate to his second wife, Tecla, and, should
Tecla predecease him, as was the case, his share would be assigned to spouses Gallanosa.
Pedro Gallanosa was Teclas son by her first marriage who grew up under the care of Florentino.
His other properties were bequeathed to his protg Adolfo Fortajada.

Upon his death, a petition for the probate of his will was file. Opposition was registered by
Florentinos brother, nephews and nieces.

After a hearing, where the oppositors did not present any evidence, the Judge admitted
the will to probate.

The testators 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.

Fifteen 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 or not 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.
SC also held that the lower court erred in saying that the action for the recovery of the
lands had not prescribed. SC 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.