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MERCADO, assumption of jurisdiction by the probate court and the rights of

FELIMON V. MERCADO, CARMENCITA M. SUTHERLAND, RICHARD V. third parties are not impaired. Its jurisdiction extends to matters
MERCADO, MA. TERESITA M. ANDERSON, and FRANKLIN L. incidental or collateral to the settlement and distribution of the
estate, such as the determination of the status of each heir and
MERCADO, Respondents.
whether property included in the inventory is the conjugal or
exclusive property of the deceased spouse.
Facts: The RTC did not commit grave abuse of discretion amounting to
Emigdio S. Mercado died intestate on January 12, 1991, survived lack or excess of jurisdiction in directing the inclusion of certain
by his second wife, Teresita V. Mercado, and their five children, properties in the inventory notwithstanding that such properties
namely: Allan V. Mercado, Felimon V. Mercado, Carmencita M. had been either transferred by sale or exchanged for corporate
Sutherland, Richard V. Mercado, and Maria Teresita M. Anderson; shares in Mervir Realty by the decedent during his lifetime.
and his two children by his first marriage, namely: respondent The usage of the word all in Section 1, Rule 78, demands the
Franklin L. Mercado and petitioner Thelma M. Aranas. inclusion of all the real and personal properties of the decedent in
The deceased inherited and acquired real properties during his the inventory. However, the word all is qualified by the phrase
lifetime. He also owned corporate shares in Mervir Realty which has come into his possession or knowledge, which signifies
Corporation and Cebu Emerson Transporation Corporation. He that the properties must be known to the administrator to belong
assigned his real properties in exchange for corporate stocks of to the decedent or are in her possession as the administrator.
Mervir Realty, and sold his real property in Badian, Cebu to mervir Section 1 allows no exception, for the phrase true inventory
Realty. implies that no properties appearing to belong to the decedent
In June 1991, petitioner filed with RTC Cebu City a petition for the can be excluded from the inventory, regardless of their being in
appointment of Teresita as the administrator of Emigdios estate, the possession of another person or entity.
which the RTC granted. Teresita submitted an inventory of the There is no dispute that the jurisdiction of the trial court as an
estate indicating that the at the time of his death, Emigdio had intestate court is special and limited. The trial court cannot
"left no real properties but only personal properties" worth adjudicate title to properties claimed to be a part of the estate but
6,675,435.25 in all. are claimed to belong to third parties by title adverse to that of
Claiming that Emigdio had owned other properties that were the decedent and the estate, not by virtue of any right of
excluded from the inventory, Thelma moved that the RTC direct inheritance from the decedent. All that the trial court can do
Teresita to amend the inventory, and to be examined regarding it, regarding said properties is to determine whether or not they
which was granted by the RTC. should be included in the inventory of properties to be
In an order by the RTC, the court found that the inventory administered by the administrator. Such determination is
submitted by Teresita had excluded properties that should be provisional and may be still revised.
included. The general rule is that the jurisdiction of the trial court, either as
Teresita, joined by other heirs of Emigdio, timely sought the a probate court or an intestate court, relates only to matters
reconsideration of the order of March 14, 2001 on the ground that having to do with the probate of the will and/or settlement of the
one of the real properties affected, Lot No. 3353 located in estate of deceased persons, but does not extend to the
Badian, Cebu, had already been sold to Mervir Realty, and that the determination of questions of ownership that arise during the
parcels of land covered by the deed of assignment had already proceedings.
come into the possession of and registered in the name of Mervir However, this general rule is subject to exceptions as justified by
Realty. RTC denied. Upon appeal, CA partly granted Teresitas expediency and convenience. First, the probate court may
petition disposing that Teresita, et al. had properly filed the provisionally pass upon in an intestate or a testate proceeding the
petition for certiorari because the order of the RTC directing a new question of inclusion in, or exclusion from, the inventory of a piece
inventory of properties was interlocutory. of property without prejudice to final determination of ownership
in a separate action. Second, if the interested parties are all heirs
Issue: Whether the CA properly determine that the RTC committed grave to the estate, or the question is one of collation or advancement,
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in directing the or the parties consent to the assumption of jurisdiction by the
inclusion of certain properties in the inventory notwithstanding that such probate court and the rights of third parties are not impaired,
then the probate court is competent to resolve issues on
properties had been either transferred by sale or exchanged for corporate
ownership. Verily, its jurisdiction extends to matters incidental or
shares in Mervir Realty by the decedent during his lifetime. collateral to the settlement and distribution of the estate, such as
the determination of the status of each heir and whether the
Ruling: NO. property in the inventory is conjugal or exclusive property of the
First, the SC clarified that the assailed order of March 14, 2001 deceased spouse
denying Teresitas motion for the approval of the inventory and
the order dated May 18, 2001 denying her motion for CASE NO. 2: HEIRS OF MAGDALENO YPON, NAMELY, ALVARO YPON,
reconsideration were interlocutory. This is because the inclusion ERUDITA Y. BARON, CICERO YPON, WILSON YPON, VICTOR YPON, AND
of the properties in the inventory was not yet a final HINIDINO Y. PEALOSA, PETITIONERS, vs. GAUDIOSO PONTERAS
determination of their ownership. Hence, the approval of the
inventory and the concomitant determination of the ownership as
basis for inclusion or exclusion from the inventory were
provisional and subject to revision at anytime during the course of
the administration proceedings. Facts:
The prevailing rule is that for the purpose of determining whether On July 29, 2010, petitioners, together with some of their cousins,
a certain property should or should not be included in the filed a complaint for Cancellation of Title and Reconveyance with
inventory, the probate court may pass upon the title thereto but Damages against respondent. In their complaint, they alleged that
such determination is not conclusive and is subject to the final Magdaleno Ypon died intestate and childless on June 28, 1968,
decision in a separate action regarding ownership which may be leaving behind lot properties which were then covered by
instituted by the parties. TCTs. Claiming to be the sole heir of Magdaleno, Gaudioso
The probate court is authorized to determine the issue of executed an Affidavit of Self-Adjudication and caused the
ownership of properties for purposes of their inclusion or cancellation of the said certificates of title, leading to their
exclusion from the inventory to be submitted by the administrator, subsequent transfer in his name under TCT Nos. T-2637 and T-
but its determination shall only be provisional unless the 2638, to the prejudice of petitioners who are Magdalenos
interested parties are all heirs of the decedent, or the question is collateral relatives and successors-in-interest.
one of collation or advancement, or the parties consent to the
The respondent, in his answer, alleged that he is the lawful son of
Magdaleno thereby presenting certificate of live birth, letters from
Polytechnic School, and certified true copy of his passport. He
alleged that petitioners have no cause of action against him, that
the complaint fails to state a cause of action, and the case is not
prosecuted by the real parties-in-interest, as there is no showing
that the petitioners have been judicially declared as Magdalenos
lawful heirs.
The RTC ruled in favour of respondent. It observed that while the
plaintiffs therein had established their relationship with
Magdaleno in a previous special proceeding for the issuance of
letters of administration, this did not mean that they could already
be considered as the decedents compulsory heirs. Petitioners
motion for reconsideration was denied. Hence, the direct

Issue: Whether or not the RTC is correct in ruling that there is a need to
institute the proper special proceeding in order to determine the heirship of
the parties involved.

Ruling: YES.
The determination of who are the decedents lawful heirs must be
made in the proper special proceeding for such purpose, and not
in an ordinary suit for recovery of ownership and/or possession.
Jurisprudence dictates that the determination of who are the legal
heirs of the deceased must be made in the proper special
proceedings in court, and not in an ordinary suit for recovery of
ownership and possession of property. 1wphi1 This must take
precedence over the action for recovery of possession and
ownership. The Court has consistently ruled that the trial court
cannot make a declaration of heirship in the civil action for the
reason that such a declaration can only be made in a special
proceeding. Under Section 3, Rule 1 of the 1997 Revised Rules of
Court, a civil action is defined as one by which a party sues
another for the enforcement or protection of a right, or the
prevention or redress of a wrong while a special proceeding is a
remedy by which a party seeks to establish a status, a right, or a
particular fact. It is then decisively clear that the declaration of
heirship can be made only in a special proceeding inasmuch as the
petitioners here are seeking the establishment of a status or right.
By way of exception, the need to institute a separate special
proceeding for the determination of heirship may be dispensed
with for the sake of practicality, as when the parties in the civil
case had voluntarily submitted the issue to the trial court and
already presented their evidence regarding the issue of heirship,
and the RTC had consequently rendered judgment thereon, 23 or
when a special proceeding had been instituted but had been
finally closed and terminated, and hence, cannot be re-opened. In
this case, none of the foregoing exceptions, or those of similar
nature, appear to exist.
In this light, it must also be pointed out that the RTC erred in
ruling on Gaudiosos heirship which should, as herein discussed,
be threshed out and determined in the proper special proceeding.
As such, the foregoing pronouncement should therefore be devoid
of any legal effect.