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G.R. No.

L-12105 January 30, 1960 in the same amount of cash and of shares of mining stock
similar to those given to testator's grandson; (3) legacies of
TESTATE ESTATE OF C. O. BOHANAN, deceased. P6,000 each to his (testator) son, Edward Gilbert Bohana, and
PHILIPPINE TRUST CO., executor-appellee, his daughter, Mary Lydia Bohanan, to be paid in three yearly
vs. installments; (4) legacies to Clara Daen, in the amount of
MAGDALENA C. BOHANAN, EDWARD C. BOHANAN, and P10,000.00; Katherine Woodward, P2,000; Beulah Fox,
MARY LYDIA BOHANAN, oppositors-appellants. P4,000; and Elizabeth Hastings, P2,000;

Jose D. Cortes for appellants. It will be seen from the above that out of the total estate (after
Ohnick, Velilla and Balonkita for appellee. deducting administration expenses) of P211,639.33 in cash,
the testator gave his grandson P90,819.67 and one-half of all
shares of stock of several mining companies and to his brother
LABRADOR, J.: and sister the same amount. To his children he gave a legacy
of only P6,000 each, or a total of P12,000.
Appeal against an order of the Court of First Instance of
Manila, Hon. Ramon San Jose, presiding, dismissing the The wife Magadalena C. Bohanan and her two children
objections filed by Magdalena C. Bohanan, Mary Bohanan and question the validity of the testamentary provisions disposing of
Edward Bohanan to the project of partition submitted by the the estate in the manner above indicated, claiming that they
executor and approving the said project. have been deprived of the legitimate that the laws of the form
concede to them.
On April 24, 195 0, the Court of First Instance of Manila, Hon.
Rafael Amparo, presiding, admitted to probate a last will and The first question refers to the share that the wife of the
testament of C. O. Bohanan, executed by him on April 23, testator, Magdalena C. Bohanan, should be entitled to
1944 in Manila. In the said order, the court made the following received. The will has not given her any share in the estate left
findings: by the testator. It is argued that it was error for the trial court to
have recognized the Reno divorce secured by the testator from
According to the evidence of the opponents the his Filipino wife Magdalena C. Bohanan, and that said divorce
testator was born in Nebraska and therefore a citizen should be declared a nullity in this jurisdiction, citing the case
of that state, or at least a citizen of California where of Querubin vs. Querubin, 87 Phil., 124, 47 Off. Gaz., (Sup, 12)
some of his properties are located. This contention in 315, Cousins Hiz vs. Fluemer, 55 Phil., 852, Ramirez vs.
untenable. Notwithstanding the long residence of the Gmur, 42 Phil., 855 and Gorayeb vs. Hashim, 50 Phil., 22. The
decedent in the Philippines, his stay here was merely court below refused to recognize the claim of the widow on the
temporary, and he continued and remained to be a ground that the laws of Nevada, of which the deceased was a
citizen of the United States and of the state of his citizen, allow him to dispose of all of his properties without
pertinent residence to spend the rest of his days in requiring him to leave any portion of his estate to his wife.
that state. His permanent residence or domicile in the Section 9905 of Nevada Compiled Laws of 1925 provides:
United States depended upon his personal intent or
desire, and he selected Nevada as his homicide and Every person over the age of eighteen years, of
therefore at the time of his death, he was a citizen of sound mind, may, by last will, dispose of all his or her
that state. Nobody can choose his domicile or estate, real and personal, the same being chargeable
permanent residence for him. That is his exclusive with the payment of the testator's debts.
personal right.
Besides, the right of the former wife of the testator, Magdalena
Wherefore, the court finds that the testator C. O. C. Bohanan, to a share in the testator's estafa had already
Bohanan was at the time of his death a citizen of the been passed upon adversely against her in an order dated
United States and of the State of Nevada and June 19, 1955, (pp. 155-159, Vol II Records, Court of First
declares that his will and testament, Exhibit A, is fully Instance), which had become final, as Magdalena C. Bohanan
in accordance with the laws of the state of Nevada does not appear to have appealed therefrom to question its
and admits the same to probate. Accordingly, the validity. On December 16, 1953, the said former wife filed a
Philippine Trust Company, named as the executor of motion to withdraw the sum of P20,000 from the funds of the
the will, is hereby appointed to such executor and estate, chargeable against her share in the conjugal property,
upon the filing of a bond in the sum of P10,000.00, let (See pp. 294-297, Vol. I, Record, Court of First Instance), and
letters testamentary be issued and after taking the the court in its said error found that there exists no community
prescribed oath, it may enter upon the execution and property owned by the decedent and his former wife at the time
performance of its trust. (pp. 26-27, R.O.A.). the decree of divorce was issued. As already and Magdalena
C. Bohanan may no longer question the fact contained therein,
It does not appear that the order granting probate was ever i.e. that there was no community property acquired by the
questions on appeal. The executor filed a project of partition testator and Magdalena C. Bohanan during their converture.
dated January 24, 1956, making, in accordance with the
provisions of the will, the following adjudications: (1) one-half of Moreover, the court below had found that the testator and
the residuary estate, to the Farmers and Merchants National Magdalena C. Bohanan were married on January 30, 1909,
Bank of Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. in trust only for the and that divorce was granted to him on May 20, 1922; that
benefit of testator's grandson Edward George Bohanan, which sometime in 1925, Magdalena C. Bohanan married Carl Aaron
consists of several mining companies; (2) the other half of the and this marriage was subsisting at the time of the death of the
residuary estate to the testator's brother, F.L. Bohanan, and his testator. Since no right to share in the inheritance in favor of a
sister, Mrs. M. B. Galbraith, share and share alike. This consist divorced wife exists in the State of Nevada and since the court
below had already found that there was no conjugal property In addition, the other appellants, children of the testator, do not
between the testator and Magdalena C. Bohanan, the latter dispute the above-quoted provision of the laws of the State of
can now have no longer claim to pay portion of the estate left Nevada. Under all the above circumstances, we are
by the testator. constrained to hold that the pertinent law of Nevada, especially
Section 9905 of the Compiled Nevada Laws of 1925, can be
The most important issue is the claim of the testator's children, taken judicial notice of by us, without proof of such law having
Edward and Mary Lydia, who had received legacies in the been offered at the hearing of the project of partition.
amount of P6,000 each only, and, therefore, have not been
given their shares in the estate which, in accordance with the As in accordance with Article 10 of the old Civil Code, the
laws of the forum, should be two-thirds of the estate left by the validity of testamentary dispositions are to be governed by the
testator. Is the failure old the testator to give his children two- national law of the testator, and as it has been decided and it is
thirds of the estate left by him at the time of his death, in not disputed that the national law of the testator is that of the
accordance with the laws of the forum valid? State of Nevada, already indicated above, which allows a
testator to dispose of all his property according to his will, as in
The old Civil Code, which is applicable to this case because the case at bar, the order of the court approving the project of
the testator died in 1944, expressly provides that successional partition made in accordance with the testamentary provisions,
rights to personal property are to be earned by the national law must be, as it is hereby affirmed, with costs against appellants.
of the person whose succession is in question. Says the law on
this point: Paras, Bengzon, C.J., Padilla, Bautista Angelo and Endencia,
JJ., concur.
Nevertheless, legal and testamentary successions, in Barrera, J., concurs in the result.
respect to the order of succession as well as to the
extent of the successional rights and the intrinsic
validity of their provisions, shall be regulated by the The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation
national law of the person whose succession is in
question, whatever may be the nature of the property
and the country in which it is found. (par. 2, Art. 10,
old Civil Code, which is the same as par. 2 Art. 16,
new Civil Code.)

In the proceedings for the probate of the will, it was found out
and it was decided that the testator was a citizen of the State of
Nevada because he had selected this as his domicile and his
permanent residence. (See Decision dated April 24, 1950,
supra). So the question at issue is whether the estementary
dispositions, especially hose for the children which are short of
the legitime given them by the Civil Code of the Philippines, are
valid. It is not disputed that the laws of Nevada allow a testator
to dispose of all his properties by will (Sec. 9905, Complied
Nevada Laws of 1925, supra). It does not appear that at time of
the hearing of the project of partition, the above-quoted
provision was introduced in evidence, as it was the executor's
duly to do. The law of Nevada, being a foreign law can only be
proved in our courts in the form and manner provided for by
our Rules, which are as follows:

SEC. 41. Proof of public or official record. — An

official record or an entry therein, when admissible for
any purpose, may be evidenced by an official
publication thereof or by a copy tested by the officer
having the legal custody of he record, or by his
deputy, and accompanied, if the record is not kept in
the Philippines, with a certificate that such officer has
the custody. . . . (Rule 123).

We have, however, consulted the records of the case in the

court below and we have found that during the hearing on
October 4, 1954 of the motion of Magdalena C. Bohanan for
withdrawal of P20,000 as her share, the foreign law, especially
Section 9905, Compiled Nevada Laws. was introduced in
evidence by appellant's (herein) counsel as Exhibits "2" (See
pp. 77-79, VOL. II, and t.s.n. pp. 24-44, Records, Court of First
Instance). Again said laws presented by the counsel for the
executor and admitted by the Court as Exhibit "B" during the
hearing of the case on January 23, 1950 before Judge Rafael
Amparo (se Records, Court of First Instance, Vol. 1).
legacies, or a total of P120,000.00, which it released from time
to time according as the lower court approved and allowed the
G.R. No. L-23678 June 6, 1967 various motions or petitions filed by the latter three requesting
partial advances on account of their respective legacies.
PEOPLE'S BANK and TRUST COMPANY, executor. On January 8, 1964, preparatory to closing its administration,
MARIA CRISTINA BELLIS and MIRIAM PALMA BELLIS, the executor submitted and filed its "Executor's Final Account,
oppositors-appellants, Report of Administration and Project of Partition" wherein it
vs. reported, inter alia, the satisfaction of the legacy of Mary E.
EDWARD A. BELLIS, ET AL., heirs-appellees. Mallen by the delivery to her of shares of stock amounting to
$240,000.00, and the legacies of Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria
Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis in the amount of
Vicente R. Macasaet and Jose D. Villena for oppositors P40,000.00 each or a total of P120,000.00. In the project of
appellants. partition, the executor — pursuant to the "Twelfth" clause of the
Paredes, Poblador, Cruz and Nazareno for heirs-appellees E. testator's Last Will and Testament — divided the residuary
A. Bellis, et al. estate into seven equal portions for the benefit of the testator's
Quijano and Arroyo for heirs-appellees W. S. Bellis, et al. seven legitimate children by his first and second marriages.
J. R. Balonkita for appellee People's Bank & Trust Company.
Ozaeta, Gibbs and Ozaeta for appellee A. B. Allsman.
On January 17, 1964, Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma
Bellis filed their respective oppositions to the project of partition
BENGZON, J.P., J.: on the ground that they were deprived of their legitimes as
illegitimate children and, therefore, compulsory heirs of the
This is a direct appeal to Us, upon a question purely of law, deceased.
from an order of the Court of First Instance of Manila dated
April 30, 1964, approving the project of partition filed by the Amos Bellis, Jr. interposed no opposition despite notice to him,
executor in Civil Case No. 37089 therein.1äwphï1.ñët proof of service of which is evidenced by the registry receipt
submitted on April 27, 1964 by the executor.1
The facts of the case are as follows:
After the parties filed their respective memoranda and other
Amos G. Bellis, born in Texas, was "a citizen of the State of pertinent pleadings, the lower court, on April 30, 1964, issued
Texas and of the United States." By his first wife, Mary E. an order overruling the oppositions and approving the
Mallen, whom he divorced, he had five legitimate children: executor's final account, report and administration and project
Edward A. Bellis, George Bellis (who pre-deceased him in of partition. Relying upon Art. 16 of the Civil Code, it applied
infancy), Henry A. Bellis, Alexander Bellis and Anna Bellis the national law of the decedent, which in this case is Texas
Allsman; by his second wife, Violet Kennedy, who survived law, which did not provide for legitimes.
him, he had three legitimate children: Edwin G. Bellis, Walter
S. Bellis and Dorothy Bellis; and finally, he had three Their respective motions for reconsideration having been
illegitimate children: Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and denied by the lower court on June 11, 1964, oppositors-
Miriam Palma Bellis. appellants appealed to this Court to raise the issue of which
law must apply — Texas law or Philippine law.
On August 5, 1952, Amos G. Bellis executed a will in the
Philippines, in which he directed that after all taxes, obligations, In this regard, the parties do not submit the case on, nor even
and expenses of administration are paid for, his distributable discuss, the doctrine of renvoi, applied by this Court in Aznar v.
estate should be divided, in trust, in the following order and Christensen Garcia, L-16749, January 31, 1963. Said doctrine
manner: (a) $240,000.00 to his first wife, Mary E. Mallen; (b) is usually pertinent where the decedent is a national of one
P120,000.00 to his three illegitimate children, Amos Bellis, Jr., country, and a domicile of another. In the present case, it is not
Maria Cristina Bellis, Miriam Palma Bellis, or P40,000.00 each disputed that the decedent was both a national of Texas and a
and (c) after the foregoing two items have been satisfied, the domicile thereof at the time of his death.2 So that even
remainder shall go to his seven surviving children by his first assuming Texas has a conflict of law rule providing that the
and second wives, namely: Edward A. Bellis, Henry A. Bellis, domiciliary system (law of the domicile) should govern, the
Alexander Bellis and Anna Bellis Allsman, Edwin G. Bellis, same would not result in a reference back (renvoi) to Philippine
Walter S. Bellis, and Dorothy E. Bellis, in equal law, but would still refer to Texas law. Nonetheless, if Texas
shares.1äwphï1.ñët has a conflicts rule adopting the situs theory (lex rei sitae)
calling for the application of the law of the place where the
Subsequently, or on July 8, 1958, Amos G. Bellis died a properties are situated, renvoi would arise, since the properties
resident of San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A. His will was admitted to here involved are found in the Philippines. In the absence,
probate in the Court of First Instance of Manila on September however, of proof as to the conflict of law rule of Texas, it
15, 1958. should not be presumed different from ours.3 Appellants'
position is therefore not rested on the doctrine of renvoi. As
The People's Bank and Trust Company, as executor of the will, stated, they never invoked nor even mentioned it in their
paid all the bequests therein including the amount of arguments. Rather, they argue that their case falls under the
$240,000.00 in the form of shares of stock to Mary E. Mallen circumstances mentioned in the third paragraph of Article 17 in
and to the three (3) illegitimate children, Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria relation to Article 16 of the Civil Code.
Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis, various amounts
totalling P40,000.00 each in satisfaction of their respective

Article 16, par. 2, and Art. 1039 of the Civil Code, render ignored in regard to those matters that Article 10 — now Article
applicable the national law of the decedent, in intestate or 16 — of the Civil Code states said national law should govern.
testamentary successions, with regard to four items: (a) the
order of succession; (b) the amount of successional rights; (e) The parties admit that the decedent, Amos G. Bellis, was a
the intrinsic validity of the provisions of the will; and (d) the citizen of the State of Texas, U.S.A., and that under the laws of
capacity to succeed. They provide that — Texas, there are no forced heirs or legitimes. Accordingly,
since the intrinsic validity of the provision of the will and the
ART. 16. Real property as well as personal property is amount of successional rights are to be determined under
subject to the law of the country where it is situated. Texas law, the Philippine law on legitimes cannot be applied to
the testacy of Amos G. Bellis.
However, intestate and testamentary successions,
both with respect to the order of succession and to the Wherefore, the order of the probate court is hereby affirmed in
amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic toto, with costs against appellants. So ordered.
validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated
by the national law of the person whose succession is Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Regala, Makalintal,
under consideration, whatever may he the nature of Zaldivar, Sanchez and Castro, JJ., concur.
the property and regardless of the country wherein
said property may be found.

ART. 1039. Capacity to succeed is governed by the

law of the nation of the decedent. Footnotes

Appellants would however counter that Art. 17, paragraph later filed a motion praying that as a legal heir he
three, of the Civil Code, stating that — be included in this case as one of the oppositors-
appellants; to file or adopt the opposition of his sisters
to the project of partition; to submit his brief after
Prohibitive laws concerning persons, their acts or paying his proportionate share in the expenses
property, and those which have for their object public incurred in the printing of the record on appeal; or to
order, public policy and good customs shall not be allow him to adopt the briefs filed by his sisters — but
rendered ineffective by laws or judgments this Court resolved to deny the motion.
promulgated, or by determinations or conventions
agreed upon in a foreign country. 2San Antonio, Texas was his legal residence.
prevails as the exception to Art. 16, par. 2 of the Civil Code 3Lim
afore-quoted. This is not correct. Precisely, Congress deleted vs. Collector, 36 Phil. 472; In re Testate Estate of
the phrase, "notwithstanding the provisions of this and the next Suntay, 95 Phil. 500.
preceding article" when they incorporated Art. 11 of the old
Civil Code as Art. 17 of the new Civil Code, while reproducing
without substantial change the second paragraph of Art. 10 of
the old Civil Code as Art. 16 in the new. It must have been their
purpose to make the second paragraph of Art. 16 a specific
provision in itself which must be applied in testate and intestate
succession. As further indication of this legislative intent,
Congress added a new provision, under Art. 1039, which
decrees that capacity to succeed is to be governed by the
national law of the decedent.

It is therefore evident that whatever public policy or good

customs may be involved in our System of legitimes, Congress
has not intended to extend the same to the succession of
foreign nationals. For it has specifically chosen to leave, inter
alia, the amount of successional rights, to the decedent's
national law. Specific provisions must prevail over general

Appellants would also point out that the decedent executed two
wills — one to govern his Texas estate and the other his
Philippine estate — arguing from this that he intended
Philippine law to govern his Philippine estate. Assuming that
such was the decedent's intention in executing a separate
Philippine will, it would not alter the law, for as this Court ruled
in Miciano v. Brimo, 50 Phil. 867, 870, a provision in a
foreigner's will to the effect that his properties shall be
distributed in accordance with Philippine law and not with his
national law, is illegal and void, for his national law cannot be