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Wills and Succession 1

Case Digest

In Re Summary Settlement of the Estate of Melodia Ferraris


Filomena ABELLANA DE BACAYO, petitioner-appellant, vs.
Gaudencia FERRARIS, et al., oppositors-appellants.
G.R. No. L-19382, August 31, 1965

FACTS:

Melodia Ferraris left properties in Cebu City consisting of 1/3 share in the estate of her aunt
Rosa Ferraris. Ten years have elapsed since the last time she was known to be alive, she was
declared presumptively dead for purposes of opening her succession and distribute her estate
among heirs. Hence, a petition for the summary settlement of her estate was filed. Melodia left no
surviving descendant, ascendant or spouse, but was survived only by collateral relatives: 1) an
aunt and half-sister of decedent’s father; and 2) her nieces and nephews who were children of
Melodia’s only brother of full blood who predeceased her. In the settlement proceeding, Filomena
Abellana de Bacayo, who is the decedent’s half-sister, was excluded as an heir pursuant to a
resolution issued by the lower court. A motion for reconsideration was denied hence this action.

ISSUE:

Who should inherit the intestate estate of a deceased person when he or she is survived only
by collateral relatives, to wit an aunt and the children of a brother who predeceased him? Or will
the aunt concur with the children of the decedent’s brother or will the former be excluded by the
latter.

RULING:

As an aunt of the deceased she is as far distant as the nephews from the decedent (three
degrees) since in the collateral line to which both kinds of relatives belong, degrees are counted
by first ascending to the common ancestor and descending to the heir (Art. 966, Civil Code).
Appellant is likewise right in her contention that nephews and nieces alone do not inherit by right
of representation unless concurring with brothers or sisters of the deceased, as provided
expressly by Art. 975.

Nevertheless, the trial court was correct when it held that, in case of intestacy, nephews and
nieces exclude all other collaterals (aunts and uncles, first cousins, etc.) from the succession.
This is readily apparent from articles 1001, 1004, 1005, and 1009 of the Civil Code.
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Case Digest

Constantino C. ACAIN, petitioner vs.


Hon. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT
G.R. No. 72706, October 27, 1987

FACTS:

Constantino Acain filed on the Regional Trial Court a petition for the probate of the will of his
late Uncle, Nemesio Acain, on the premise that the latter died leaving a will in which the former
and his brothers and sisters were instituted as heirs. After the petition was set for hearing in the
lower court, Virginia Fernandez and Rosa Diongson, a legally adopted daughter and the widow of
the deceased respectively, filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that: (1) Constantino Acain
has no legal capacity to institute the proceedings; (2) he is merely a universal heir; and (3) the
widow and the adopted daughter have been pretirited. Said motion was denied as well as the
subsequent motion for reconsideration. Consequently, Fernandez and Diongson filed with the
Supreme Court a petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction which was
subsequently referred to the Intermediate Appellate Court. IAC granted Fernandez and
Diongson’s petition and ordered the trial court to dismiss the petition for probate of the will. Due to
the denial of Acain’s motion for reconsideration, he then filed a petition for review on certiorari
before the Supreme Court.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Virginia Fernandez and Rosa Diongson have been pretirited.

RULING:

Article 854 of the Civil Code:

The preterition or omission of one, some, or all of the compulsory heirs in the
direct line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will or born after the
death of the testator, shall annul the institution of heir; but the devisees and
legacies shall be valid insofar as they are not inofficious.

If the omitted compulsory heirs should die before the testator, the institution shall
be effectual, without prejudice to the right of representation.

Preterition consists in the omission in the testator’s will of the forced heirs or anyone of them
either because they are not mentioned therein, or though mentioned, they are neither instituted
as heirs nor are expressly disinherited. Insofar as the widow is concerned, Article 854 may not
apply as she does not ascend or descend from the testator, although she is a compulsory heir.
However, the same thing cannot be said of the legally adopted daughter. Under Article 39 of P.D.
No. 603, known as the Child and Youth Welfare Code, adoption gives to the adopted person the
same rights and duties as if he were a legitimate child of the adopter and makes the adopted
person a legal heir of the adopter. It cannot be denied that she was totally omitted and preterited
in the will and that both the adopted child and the widow were deprived of at least their legitime.
Neither can it be denied that they were not expressly disinherited. Hence, this is a clear case of
preterition of the legally adopted child.

The universal institution of Acain together with his brothers and sisters to the entire
inheritance of the testator results in totally abrogating the will because the nullification of such
institution of universal heirs without any other testamentary disposition in the will amounts to a
declaration that nothing at all was written.
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Case Digest

Danilo ALUAD, et al., petitioners vs.


Zenaido ALUAD, respondent
G.R. No. 176943, October 17, 2008

FACTS:

Petitioner’s mother, Maria Aluad and respondent Zenaido Aluad were raised by the childless
spouses Matilde and Crispin Aluad. Crispin was the owner of six lots of Pilar Cadastre, Capiz.
After his death, Matilde adjudicated the lots to herself and thereafter, she executed a Deed of
Donation of Real Property Inter Vivos in favor of Maria covering all the six lots. The Deed
provided that such

will become effective upon the death of the Donor, but in the event that the
Donee should die before the Donor, the present donation shall be deemed
rescinded. Provided, however, that anytime during the lifetime of the Donor or
anyone of them who should survive, they could use, encumber or even dispose
of any or even all of the parcels of the land.

Matilde sold one of the lots to Zenaido and subsequently, Matilde executed a last will and
testament devising four (4) of the lots to Maria and the remaining lot to Zenaido. Maria died a few
months after Matilde’s death. Thereafter, Maria’s heirs (herein petitioners) filed before the RTC a
complaint for declaration and recovery of ownership and possession of the two lots conveyed and
donated to Zenaido, alleging that no rights have been transmitted to the latter because such lots
have been previously alienated to them to Maria via the Deed of Donation. The lower court
decided in favor of the petitioners however, CA reversed said decision upon appeal of Zenaido
which held that the Deed of Donation was actually a donation mortis causa, not inter vivos and as
such it had to, but did not, comply with the formalities of a will. Due to the denial of the petitioner’s
Motion for Reconsideration, the present Petition for Review has been filed.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not the Deed of Donation is donation inter vivos and whether or not such
deed is valid.
2. If so, whether or not Matilde Aluad has the right to convey the lots in question to
Zenaido Aluad.

RULING:

The Court finds the donation to Maria Aluad (petitioner’s mother) one of mortis causa, it
having the following characteristics:

1. It conveys no title or ownership to the transferee before the death of the transferor, or
what amounts to the same thing, that the transferor should retain the ownership (full
or naked) and control of the property while alive;
2. That before the death of the transferor, the transfer should be revocable, by the
transferor at will, ad nutum, but revocability may be provided for indirectly by means
of a reserved power in the donor to dispose of the properties conveyed; and
3. That the transfer should be void of the transferor should survive the transferee.

The phrase in the earlier-qouted Deed of Donation “to become effective upon the death of the
DONOR” admits of no other interpretation than to mean that Matilde did not intend to transfer the
ownership of the six lots to petitioner’s mother during the former’s lifetime. Further the statement,
“anytime during the lifetime of the DONOR or anyone of them who should survive, they could
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Case Digest

use, encumber or even dispose of any or even all the parcels of land herein donated,” means that
Matilde retained ownership of the lots and reserved in her the right to dispose them. For the right
to dispose of a thing without other limitations than those established by law is an attribute of
ownership. The phrase, “anyone of them who should survive” is out of sync. For the Deed of
Donation clearly stated that it would take effect upon the death of the donor, hence, said phrase
could only have referred to the donor.

The donation being then mortis causa, the formalities of a will should have been observed but
they were not, as it was witnessed by only two, not three or more witnesses following Article 805
of the Civil Code. It is void and transmitted no right to petitioner’s mother. But even assuming
arguendo that the formalities were observed, since it was not probated, no right to the two lots
was transmitted to Maria. Matilde thus validly disposed the lot to Zenaido by her last will and
testament, subject to the qualification that her will must be probated. With respect to the
conveyed lot, the same had been validly sold by Matilde to Zenaido.
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Case Digest

In the Matter of the Probate of the Last Will and Testament of the Deceased
Brigido Alvarado,
Cesar ALVARADO, petitioner vs.
Hon. Ramon GAVIOLA
G.R. No. 74695, September 14, 1993

FACTS:

Brigido Alvarado executed a notarial will entitled, “Huling Habilin” wherein he disinherited an
illegitimate son, Cesar Alvarado, and expressly revoked a previously executed a holographic will
at the time awaiting probate before RTC. As testified to by the three instrumental witnesses, the
notary public and Cesar, the testator did not read the final draft of the will, instead, Atty. Rino, as
the lawyer who drafted the document read the same aloud in the presence of the testator, the
three instrumental witnesses and the notary public. While the testator’s will was admitted to
probate, a codicil was subsequently executed changing some dispositions in the notarial will to
generate cash for the testator’s eye operation because he was then suffering from glaucoma. But
the disinheritance and the revocatory clauses remained and as in the case of the notarial will, the
testator did not personally read the final draft of the codicil. Instead, it was Atty. Rino who read it
alound in his presence and in the presence of the three instrumental witnesses and of the notary
public. Upon the testator’s death, Atty Rino as executor filed a petition for probate of the notarial
will which was in turn opposed by Cesar alleging that the will sought to be probated was not
executed and attested as required by law. Upon failure of Cesar to substantiate his Opposition, a
Probate Order was issued from which an appeal was made to IAC stating that the probate of the
deceased’s last will and codicil should have been denied because the testator was blind within
the meaning of the law at the time his “Huling Habilin” and the codicil thereto was executed;and
that since reading required by Art. 808 was admittedly not complied with. CA concluded that
although Art. 808 was not followed, there was, however, as substantial compliance.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not Brigido Alvarado was blind within the meaning of Article 808 at the
time his “Huling Habilin” and codicil were executed.
2. If so, whether or not the requirement of double-reading in said Article was complied
with such that whether or not, they were validly executed.

RULING:

Art. 808 applies not only to blind testators but also to those who, for one reason or another,
are “incapable of reading their wills. Since the deceased was incapable of reading the final drafts
of his will and codicil on the separate occasions of their execution due to his “poor,” “defective,” or
“blurred” vision, there can be no other course but to conclude that he comes within the scope of
the term “blind’ as used in Art. 808. Unless the contents were read to him, he had no way of
ascertaining whether or not the lawyer who drafted the will and codicil did so conformably with his
instruction. Hence, to consider his will as validly executed and entitled to probate, it is essential to
ascertain whether or not Art. 808 had been complied with.

There is no evidence and Cesar does not allege that the contents of the will and codicil were
not sufficiently made known and communicated to the testator. On the contrary, with respect to
the “Huling Habilin,” the day of the execution was not the first time that the testator had affirmed
the truth and authenticity of the contents of the draft. Moreover, with four persons following the
reading word for word with their own copies, it can be safely concluded that the testator was
reasonably assured that what was read to him were the terms actually appearing on the
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Case Digest

typewritten documents. This is especially true considering the fact that the three instrumental
witnesses were persons known to the testator.

The spirit behind that law was served though the letter was not. Although there should be
strict compliance with the substantial requirements of the law in order to insure authenticity of the
will, the formal imperfection should be brushed aside when they do not affect its purpose and
which, when taken into account may only defeat the testator’s will. Substantial compliance is
acceptable where the purpose of the law has been satisfied, the reason being that the solemnities
surrounding the execution of will are intended to protect the testator from all kinds of fraud and
trickery but are never intended to be so rigid and inflexible as to destroy the testamentary
privilege.
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Case Digest

Ruben AUSTRIA et al., petitioners, vs.


Hon. Andres REYES, et al., respondents.
G.R. No. L-23079, February 27, 1970

FACTS:

Basilia Austria filed with the CFI of Rizal a petition for probate ante mortem of her last will and
testament which was opposed by Ruben Austria and others who are nephews and nieces of
Basilia. However, such opposition was dismissed and the probate was allowed after due hearing.
The bulk of the estate was destined under the will to pass on the Perfecto Cruz and others whom
had been assumed and declared by Basilia as her own legally adopted children. Subsequently,
upon Basilia’s death, Perfecto was appointed executor in accordance with the provisions of the
former’s will. Ruben and the other petitioners filed in the same proceedings a petition in
intervention for partition alleging in substance that they are the nearest kin and that the five
private respondents (Perfecto et al.) had not in fact been adopted by the testator in accordance
with law, hence they should be rendered mere strangers and without any right to succeed as
heirs. The court then allowed the said intervention by petitioners which the court delimited to the
properties of the deceased which were not disposed of in the will and disregarded the matter of
the genuineness of adoption. Upon denial of two motions for reconsiderations, the petitioners filed
before the Supreme Court a petition for certiorari praying for the annulment of the lower court’s
orders restricting their intervention.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the institution of heirs would retain efficacy in the event there exists proof that
the adoption of the same heirs by the decedent is false.

RULING:

Article 850 provides:

The statement of a false cause for the institution of an heir shall be considered
as not written, unless it appears from the will of the testator would not have made
such institution if he had known the falsity of such cause.

Before the institution of heirs may be annulled under Art. 850, the following requisites must
concur:

1. The cause for the institution heirs must be stated in the will;
2. The cause must be shown to be false; and
3. It must appear from the face of the will that the testator would not have made such
institution if he had known the falsity of the cause.

The article quoted above is a positive injunction to ignore whatever false cause the testator
may have written in his will for the institution of heirs. Such institution may be annulled only when
one is satisfied, after an examination of the will, that the testator clearly would not have made the
institution of he had known the cause for it to be false. The words used in her will to describe the
class of heirs instituted and the abstract object of the inheritance offer no absolute indication that
the decedent would have willed her estate other than the way she did if she had known that she
was not bound by law to make allowance for legitimes. Her disposition of the free portion of her
estate which largely favored Cruz, et al. shows a perceptible inclination on her part to give to the
respondents more than what she thought the law enjoined her to give to them. Testacy is favored
and doubts are resolved on its side, especially where the will evinces an intention on the part of
the testator to dispose of practically his whole estate. Moreover, so compelling is the principle
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Case Digest

that intestacy should be avoided and the wishes of the testator allowed to prevail, that we could
even vary the language of the will for the purpose of giving it effect.
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Case Digest

In the Matter of the summary settlement of the Estate of the decease Anacleta
Abellana
Lucio BALONAN, petitioner-appellee vs.
Eusebia ABELLANA, et al., oppositors-appellants.
G.R. No. L-15153, August 31, 1960

FACTS:

The last Will and Testament sought to be probated consists in two (2) typewritten pages. The
first page is signed by Juan Bello and on the left margin appears the signatures of the three (3)
instrumental witnesses. On the second page appears the signature of said witnesses, at the
bottom of which appears the signature of the notary public and below said signature is his
designation as notary public. On the left margin of the second page (last page of the will) appears
the signature of Juan Bello under whose name appears handwritten the phrase, “Por la
Testadore Anacleta Abellana” (For the Testate of Anacleta Abellana). The will is duly
acknowledged before the notary public.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the signature of Juan Bello above the typewritten statement, “Por la
Testadora Anacleta Abellana” comply with the requirements of law prescribing the manner in
which a will shall be executed.

RULING:

Article 805 of the Civil Code provides:

Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end there of
by the testator himself or by the testator’s name written by some other
person in his presence, and by his express direction and attested and
subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator
and of one another.

The law requires that the testator himself sign the will, or if he cannot do so, the testator’s
name must be written by some other person in his presence and by his express direction. In this
case, the name of the testatrix, Anacleta Abellana does not appear written under the will by said
Abellana herself, or by Dr. Juan Bello. There is therefore, a failure to comply with the express
requirement in the law that the testator must himself sign the will, or that his name be affixed
thereto by some other person in his presence and by his express direction. Hence, the will of the
deceased Anacleta Abellana must not be admitted to probate.
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Case Digest

Maria Gervacio BLAS, et al., plaintiffs-appellants vs.


Rosalina SANTOS, in her capacity as Special Administratix of the
Estate of the deceased Maxima Santos, et al., defendants-appellants.
G.R. No. L-14070, March 29, 1961

FACTS:

Simeon Blas contracted a first marriage with Marta Cruz and had three children, only one of
whom, Eulalio, left children namely: Maria Gervacio Blas (one of the plaintiffs), Marta Gervacio
Blas (one of the defendants), and Lazaro Gervacio Blas. Lazaro died and is survived by three
legitimate children who are plaintiffs herein namely, Manuel, Leoncio and Loid. Subsequently after
Marta’s death, Simeon contracted a second marriage with Maxima Santos. At the time of second
marriage, no liquidation of the properties of Simeon and Marta was made. A week before
Simeon’s death, he executed a last Will and Testament, and he also ordered a preparation of a
document (Exhibit A) because the properties he had acquired during his first marriage with Mart
had not been liquidated and were not separated from those acquired during the second marriage.
Such document contains promises by Maxima to respect the disposition of said will and to give
one-half (1/2) of the properties she and her husband will leave to the heirs, legatees or
beneficiaries named in the will. Pursuant to this document, the plaintiffs instituted an action
against the administration of the estate of Maxima Santos to secure a judicial declaration that
one-half (1/2) of the properties left by Maxima be adjudicated to them. Upon filing of opposition by
the administratix, the trial court dismissed the complaint. Hence, this appeal.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not the heirs of Simeon Blas and wife Marta Cruz can make any claim for
the unliquidated conjugal properties acquired during their marriage.
2. Whether or not “Exhibit A” is a valid and enforceable contract.

RULING:

The heirs of Simeon Blas and his wife Marta Cruz can no longer make any claim for the
unliquidated conjugal properties acquired during said first marriage because the same were
already included in the mass properties constituting the estate of the deceased Simeon Blas and
in the adjudications made by virtue of his will.

Exhibit A appears to be the compromise defined in Article 1809 of the Civil Code of Spain, in
force at the time of the execution of such document, which provides as follows:

Compromise is a contract by which each of the parties in interest, by giving, promising, or


retaining something avoids the provocation of a suitor terminates one which has already
provocation been instituted.

The agreement or promise that Maxima Santos made in Exhibit A is to hold one-half of her
share in the conjugal assets in trust for the heirs and legatees of her husband in his will, with the
obligation of conveying the same to such of his heirs or legatees as she may choose in her last
will and testament. This kind of agreement pr promise is not void.
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Case Digest

Wencesla CACHO, petitioner-appellee vs.


John G. UDAN and Rustico G. UDAN, oppositors-appellants.
G.R. No. L-19996, April 30, 1965

FACTS:

Silvina Udan, single, died leaving a will naming her son Francisco and one Wencesla Cacho
as her sole heirs, share and share alike. Cacho then filed a petition to probate the said Will which
was opposed by the testator’s legitimate brother, Rustico. Therafter, Francisco filed his opposition
to the probate of the Will while Rustico withdrew his opposition. After Francisco’s death, another
legitimate brother of the testator, John, together with Rustico, filed their respective oppositions.
Consequently, Cacho filed a Motion to Dismiss the Oppositions filed by John and Rustico. CFI
issued an order disallowing the two oppositions for lack of interest in the estate. The subsequent
Motions for Reconsiderations were denied hence, this appeal.

ISSUE:

Whether or not John and Rustico Udan may claim to be heirs intestate of their legitimate
sister, Silvina.

RULING:

It is clear from Article 988 and 1003 of the governing Civil Code of the Philippines, in force at
the time of the death of the testatrix that the oppositor brothers may not claim to be heirs intestate
of their legitimate sister, Silvina.

Art. 988. In the absence of legitimate descendants or ascendants, the illegitimate children
shall succeed to the entire estate of the deceased.

Art. 1003. If there are no descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, or a surviving


spouse, the collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the deceased in
accordance with the following articles.

These legal provisions decree that collateral relatives of one who died intestate inherit only in
the absence of descendants, ascendants, and illegitimate children. Albeit the brothers and sister
can concur with the widow or widower, they do not concur, but are excluded by the surviving
children, legitimate or illegitimate.

Further, the death of Francisco does not improve the situation of appellants. The rights
acquired by the former are only transmitted by his death to his own heirs at law not to the
appellants, who are legitimate brothers of his mother, pursuant to Article 992.

Art. 992. An illegitimate child has no right to inherit ab intestate from the legitimate children
and relatives of his father or mother; nor shall such children or relatives inherit the same
manner from the illegitimate child.

However, the hearing on the probate must still proceed to ascertain the rights of Cacho as
testamentary heir.
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Case Digest

Tedoro CANEDA, et al., petitioners vs.


Hon. COURT OF APPEALS and William CABRERA, as Special Administrator
of the Estate of Mateo Caballero, respondents.
G.R. No. 103554, May 28, 1993

FACTS:

Mateo Caballero, a widower without any children, executed a last will and testament before
three attesting witnesses and he was duly assisted by his lawyer and a notary public. It was
declare therein that, among other things, that the testator was leaving by way of legacies and
devises his real and personal properties to specific persons, all of whom do not appear to be
related to Mateo. Not long after, he himself filed a petition before the CFI seeking the probate of
his last will and testament but the scheduled hearings were postponed, until the testator passed
away before his petition could finally be heard by the probate court. Benoni Cabrera, one of the
legatees named in the will, sought his appointment as special administrator of the testator’s
estate but due to his death, he was succeeded by William Cabreara, who was appointed by RTC
which is already the probate court. In the course of the hearing, herein petitioners claiming to be
nephews and nieces of the testator, appeared as oppositors and objected to the allowance of the
testator’s will on the ground that on the alleged date of its execution, the testator was already in
the poor state of health such that he could not have possibly executed the same; and that the
signature of the testator is not genuine. The probate court rendered a decision that such will is the
Last Will and Testament of Mateo Caballero and that it was executed in accordance with all the
requisites of the law. Upon appeal to CA, the petitioners asserted that the will in question is null
and void for the reason that its attestation clause is fatally defective since it fails to specifically
state the instrumental witnesses to the will witnessed the testator signing the will in their presence
and that they also signed the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of
one another. However, CA affirmed the decision of the trial court ruling and ruling that the
attestation clause in the Last Will substantially complies with Article 805 of the Civil Code. Due to
denial of petitioners’ motion for reconsideration, hence this appeal before the Supreme Court.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not the attestation clause in the last will of Mateo Caballero is fatally
defective such that whether or not it affects the validity of the will.
2. Whether or not the attestation clause complies with the substantial compliance
pursuant to Article 809 of the Civil Code.

RULING:

An attestation clause refers to that part of an ordinary will whereby the attesting witnesses
certify that the instrument has been executed before them and to the manner of the execution of
the same. It is a separate memorandum or record of the facts surrounding the conduct of
execution and once signed by the witnesses, it gives affirmation to the fact that compliance with
the essential formalities required by law has been observed. Under the 3 rd paragraph of Article
805, such a clause, the complete lack of which would result in the invalidity of the will,
should state:

1. The number of pages used upon which the will is written;


2. That the testator signed, or expressly cause another to sign, the will and every page
thereof in the presence of the attesting witnesses; and
3. That the attesting witnesses witnessed the signing by the testator of the will and all its
pages, and that the said witnesses also signed the will and every page thereof in the
presence of the testator and of one another.
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It will be noted that Article 805 requires that the witness should both attest and subscribe to
the will in the presence of the testator and of one another. “Attestation” and “subscription” differ in
meaning. Attestation is the act of sense, while subscription is the act of the hand. The attestation
clause herein assailed is that while it recites that the testator indeed signed the will and all its
pages in the presence of the three attesting witnesses and states as well the number of pages
that were used, the same does not expressly state therein the circumstance that said witnesses
subscribed their respective signatures to the will in the presence of the testator and of each other.
What is then clearly lacking, is the statement that the witnesses signed the will and every page
thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another.

The absence of the statement required by law is a fatal defect or imperfection which must
necessarily result in the disallowance of the will that is here sought to be admitted to probate.
Petitioners are correct in pointing out that the defect in the attestation clause obviously cannot be
characterized as merely involving the form of the will or the language used therein which would
warrant the application of the substantial compliance rule, as contemplated in Article 809 of the
Civil Code:

In the absence of bad faith, forgery, or fraud or undue and improper pressure and influence,
defects and imperfection in the form of attestation or in the language used therein shall not
render the will invalid if it is not proved that the will was in fact executed and attested in
substantial compliance with all the requirements of Article 805.

The defects and imperfection must only be with respect to the form of the attestation or the
language employed therein. Such defects or imperfection would not render a will invalid should it
be proved that the will was really executed and attested in compliance with Article 805. These
considerations do not apply where the attestation clause totally omits the fact that the attesting
witnesses signed each and every page of the will in the presence of the testator and of each
other. In such a situation, the defect is not only in the form or language of the attestation clause
but the total absence of a specific element required by Article 805 to be specifically stated in the
attestation clause of a will. That is precisely the defect complained of in the present case since
there is no plausible way by which it can be read into the questioned attestation clause statement,
or an implication thereof, that the attesting witness did actually bear witness to the signing by the
testator of the will and all of its pages and that said instrumental witnesses also signed the will
and every page thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another.
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Case Digest

Pascual COSO, vs.


Fermina Fernandez DEZA, et al.,
G.R. No.L- 16763,December 22, 1921

FACTS:

The testator, a married man, became acquainted with Rosario Lopez and had illicit relations
with her for many years. They begot an illegitimate son. The testator’s will gives the tercio de libre
disposicion to the illegitimate son and also provides for the payment of nineteen hundred Spanish
duros to Rosario Lopez by way of reimbursement for expenses incurred by her in talking care of
the testator when he is alleged to have suffered from severe illness. The will was set aside on the
ground of undue influence alleged to have been exerted over the mind of the testator by Rosario
Lopez. There is no doubt that Rosario exercised some influence over the testator.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the influence exercised was of such a character to vitiate the will.

RULING:

Mere general or reasonable influence over a testator is not sufficient to invalidate a will; to
have that effect, the influence must be undue. The rule as to what constitutes undue influence
has been variously stated, but the substance of the different statements is that, to be sufficient to
avoid a will, the influence exerted must be of a kind that so overpowers and subjugates the mind
of the testator as to destroy his free agency and make him express the will of another rather than
his own.

Such influence must be actually exerted on the mind of the testator in regard to the execution
of the will in question, either at the time of the execution of the will, or so near thereto as to be still
operative, with the object of procuring a will in favor of particular parties, and it must result in the
making of testamentary dispositions which the testator would not otherwise have made.

And while the same amount of influence may become undue when exercise by one
occupying an improper and adulterous relation to testator, the mere fact that some influence is
exercised by a person sustaining that relation does not invalidate a will, unless it is further shown
that the influence destroys the testator’s free agency.

The burden is upon the parties challenging the will to show that undue influence existed at
the time of its execution. While it is shown that the testator entertained strong affections for
Rosario Lopez, it does not appear that her influence so overpowered and subjugated his mind as
to destroy his free agency and make him express the will of another rather than his own. Mere
affection, even if illegitimate, is not undue influence and does not invalidate a will.

Influence gained by kindness and affection will not be regarded as undue, if no imposition or
fraud be practiced, even though it induces the testator to make an unequal and unjust disposition
of his property in favor of those who have contributed to his comfort and ministered to his wants,
if such disposition is voluntarily made.
Wills and Succession 15
Case Digest

Agapita N. CRUZ, petitioner vs.


Hon. Judge Guillermo P. VILLASOR and Manuel LUGAY, respondents.
G.R. No. L-32213, November 26, 1973

FACTS:

Agapita Cruz is the surviving spouse of the deceased Valente Cruz. Agapita filed before the
CFI an opposition for the allowance of the will of his late husband alleging that the will was
executed through fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and undue influence because the said
instrument was executed without the testator having been fully informed of the content thereof,
particularly as to what properties he was disposing and that the supposed last will and testament
was not executed in accordance with law. However, due to unfavorable decision, Agapita
appealed by certiorari before the Supreme Court.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the supposed last will and testament was executed in accordance with law.

RULING:

Of the three instrumental witnesses, one of them is at the same time the Notary Public before
whom the will was supposed to have been acknowledged.

The Supreme Court is inclined to sustain the last will and testament in question was not
executed in accordance with law. The notary public before whom the will was acknowledged
cannot be considered as the third instrumental witness since he cannot acknowledge before
himself his having signed the will. To acknowledge before means to avow. Consequently, if the
third witness were the notary public himself, he would have to avow assent, or admit his having
signed the will in front of himself. This cannot be done because he cannot split his personality into
two.

To allow the notary public to act as third witness, or one of the attesting and acknowledging
witnesses, would have the effect of having only two attesting witnesses to the will which would be
in contravention of the provisions of Article 805 requiring at least three credible witnesses to act
as such and of Article 806 which requires that the testator and the required number of witnesses
must appear before the notary public to acknowledge the will. The result would be that only two
witnesses appeared before the notary public for or that purpose. In the circumstance, the law
would not be duly observed.
Wills and Succession 16
Case Digest

Paula DE LA CERNA, et al., petitioners, vs.


Manuela REBACA-POTOT, et al., and the HONORABLE
COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.
G.R. No. L-20234, December 23, 1964

FACTS:

Spouses Bernabe de la Serna and Gervasia Rebaca, executed a joint last will and testament
whereby they willed that their two parcels of land acquired during their marriage together with all
improvements thereon shall be given to Manuela Rebaca, their niece. Bernabe died and the will
was probated in 1939 after due publication as required by law and there being no opposition.
Upon the death of Gervasia Rebaca, another petition for the probate of the same will insofar as
Gervasia was concerned was filed by Manuela but the court dismissed it for failure of Manuela to
appear.

Paula de la Cerna questioned for the nullity of the joint will of Bernabe being prohibited in the
Philippine law. The Court of First Instance ordered the petition heard and declared the testament
null and void, for being executed contrary to the prohibition of joint wills in the Civil Code but on
appeal by the testamentary heir, the Court of Appeals reversed, on the ground that the decree of
probate in 1939 was issued by a court of probate jurisdiction and conclusive on the due execution
of the testament. Hence, this appeal.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not an error of law affects the conclusive effect of its decision.
2. Whether or not the joint will is valid as to the share of Gervasia who died later than
Bernabe.

RULING:

The appealed decision correctly held that the final decree of probate, entered in 1939 by the
Court of First Instance of Cebu (when the testator, Bernabe de la Cerna, died), has conclusive
effect as to his last will and testament despite the fact that even then the Civil Code already
decreed the invalidity of joint wills, whether in favor of the joint testators, reciprocally, or in favor of
a third party (Art. 669, old Civil Code). A final judgment rendered on a petition for the probate of a
will is binding upon the whole world.

The probate decree in 1989 could only affect the share of the deceased husband, Bernabe
de la Cerna. It could not include the disposition of the share of the wife, Gervasia Rebaca, who
was then still alive, and over whose interest in the conjugal properties the probate court acquired
no jurisdiction, precisely because her estate could not then be in issue. Be it remembered that
prior to the new Civil Code, a will could not be probated during the testator's lifetime. It follows
that the validity of the joint will, in so far as the estate of the wife was concerned, must be, on her
death, reexamined and adjudicated de novo, since a joint will is considered a separate will of
each testator. Therefore, the undivided interest of Gervasia Rebaca should pass upon her death
to her heirs’ intestate, and not exclusively to the testamentary heir, unless some other valid will in
her favor is shown to exist, or unless she be the only heir intestate of said Gervasia.
Wills and Succession 17
Case Digest

Gertrudes De Los SANTOS, plaintiff-appellee, vs.


Maximo De La CRUZ, defendant-appellant.
G.R. No. L-29192, February 22, 1971

FACTS:

Pelagia de la Cruz died intestate and without issue. She had a niece named Marciana who is
the mother of herein defendant, Maximo. Gertrudes, who is Pelagia’s grandniece, and several co-
heirs including Maximo, entered into an Extrajudicial Partition Agreement purposely for the
distribution of Pelagia’s estate. They agreed to adjudicate three (3) lots to Maximo, in addition to
his share, on condition that the latter would undertake the development and subdivision of the
estate which was the subject matter of the agreement. Due to Maximo’s failure to comply with his
obligation, Gertrudes filed a complaint for specific performance. In Maximo’s answer, he stated
that Gertrudes had no cause of action against him because the said agreement was void with
respect to her, for the reason that she was not an heir of Pelagia and was included in the
agreement by mistake. The lower court held that Maximo, being a party to the extrajudicial
partition agreement, was estopped from raising in issue the right of the plaintiff to inherit from
Pelagia, hence, he must abide by the terms of the agreement. Maximo filed a Motion for New
Trial but was denied. Hence, this appeal.

ISSUE:

Whether or not, Gertrudes de los Santos, a grandniece of the decedent, is an heir of the
latter.

RULING:

Plaintiff-appellee being a mere grandniece of Pelagia de la Cruz, could not inherit from the
latter by right of representation.

Article 972. The right of representation takes place in the direct descending line,
but never in the ascending.

In the collateral line, it takes place only in favor of the children of brothers or
sisters, whether they be of the full or half blood.

Much less could plaintiff-appelle inherit in her own right.

Article 962. In every inheritance, the relative nearest in degree excludes the
more distant ones, saving the right of representation when it properly takes
place.

In the present case, the relatives “nearest in degree” to Pelagia de la Cruz are her nephews
and nieces, one of whom is defendant-appellant. Necessarily, plaintiff-appellee, a grandniece is
excluded by law from the inheritance.
Wills and Succession 18
Case Digest

Francisca Tioco DE PAPA, et al., plaintiffs-appellees, vs.


Dalisay Tongko CAMACHO, et al., defendants-appellants.
G.R. No. L-28032; September 24, 1986

FACTS:

The plaintiffs are the grandaunt and granduncles of the defendant, Dalisay. They have as a
common ancestor the late Balbino Tioco (who had a sister named Romana Tioco), father of the
plaintiffs and great grandfather of Dalisay. During the lifetime of Romana, she gratuitously
donated four (4) parcels of land to her niece Toribia Tioco (legitimate sister of plaintiffs). The latter
died intestate survived by her husband Estacio Dizon and their two (2) legitimate children,
Faustino and Trinidad (mother of Dalisay) and leaving the said four (4) parcels of land as the
inheritance of the children in equal pro-indiviso shares. Subsequently, Balbino died intestate,
survived by his legitimate children and bu his wife (among the plaintiffs) and legitimate
grandchildren, Faustino and Trinidad. In the partition of his estate, three (3) parcels of land were
adjudicated as the inheritance of Toribia but as she had predeceased her father, the said three (3)
parcesl of land devolved upon her two legitimate children, Faustino and Trinidad in equal pro-
inidiviso shares. Faustino died intestate, singled and without issue, leaving his one-half (1/2) pro-
indiviso share in the seven (7) parcels of land to his father, Eustacio, as his sole intestate heir,
who reserved the said property subject to a reserva troncal.When Trinidad died intestate, her
rights and interests in the land were inherited by her only child, Dalisay and not long after,
Eustacio died intestate survived also by his only legitimate child, Dalisay. Dalisay now owns one-
half (1/2) of all the seven (7) parcels of land as her inheritance from Trinidad. Dalisay also claims
the other half of the said parcels of land by virtue of reserva troncal imposed thereon upon the
death of Faustino but the plaintiffs opposed such claim because they claim three-fourths (3/4) of
the one-half pro-indiviso interst in said parcel of land, which was inherited by Eustacio from
Faustino, or three-eights (3/8) of the said parcels of land, by virtue of their being also third degree
relatives of Faustino. The lower court declared that the parties are entitled to one-half (1/2) of the
seven (7) parcels of land in dispute, as reservatarios, in equal proportions. Not satisfied, the
defendant appealed.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not all the relatives of the propositus within the third degree in the
appropriate line succeed without distinction to the reservable property upon the death
of the reservista.
2. Whether or not the rights of the plaintiffs are subject to, and should be determined by,
the rules on intestate succession.

RULING:

Article 891. The ascendant who inherits from his descendant any property which
the latter may have acquired by gratuitous title from another ascendant, or a
brother or sister, is obliged to reserve such property as he may have acquired by
operation of law for the benefit of relatives who are within the third degree and
who belong to the line from which said property came.

The reserva troncal merely determines the group of relatives reservatarios to whom the
property should be returned, but within that group, the individual right to the property should be
decided by the applicable rules of ordinary intestate succession, since Article 891 does not
specify otherwise. This conclusion is strengthened by the circumstance that the reserva being an
exceptional case, its application should be limited to what is strictly needed to accomplish the
purpose of the law.
Wills and Succession 19
Case Digest

Reversion of the reservable property being governed by the rules on instestate succession,
the plaintiffs must be held without any right thereto because, as aunt and uncles, respectively, of
Faustino (the propositus), they are excluded from the succession by his niece, the defendant,
although they are related to him within the same degree as the latter. Had the reversionary
property passed directly from the propositus, there is no doubt that the plaintiffs would have been
excluded by the defendant under the rules of intestate succession. There is no reason why a
different result should obtain simply because “the transmission of the property was delayed by the
interregnum of the reserva,” i.e., the property took a “detour” through an ascendant thereby
govong rise to the reservation before its transmission to the reservatario.

Dalisay Tongko-Camacho is entitled to the entirety of the reversionary property to the


exclusion of the plaintiffs.
Wills and Succession 20
Case Digest

Eugenio C. DEL PRADO, plaintiff and appellant, vs.


Aurea S. SANTOS, legal guardian of the minor Jesus Santos
del Prado, defendant appellee.
G.R. No. L-20946, September 23, 1966

FACTS:

Eugenio del Prado is a legitimate brother of Anastacio del Prado, who died single and
intestate. Anastacio cohabited with Aurea Santos (who was legally married) without the benefit of
matrimony and they begot a son named Jesus del Prado whom Anastacio admitted as his son in
Jesus’ birth certificate. At the time of Anastacio’s death, a parcel of land in his name was
adjudicated to Jesus del Prado. Eugenio then filed a complaint before CFI to annul the deed
executed by Aurea adjudicating to her son a parcel of land left by Anastacio alleging that he
(Eugenio) was deprived of his rightful share in the estate of his brother. The lower court dismissed
the petition, and upon appeal to CA, the appellate court certified the case to Supreme Court that
such involved purely legal questions.

ISSUE:

Who has the better right to the parcel of land? Is it the minor left by Anastacio or the latter’s
brother?

RULING:

Since Anastacio del Prado died in 1958, the new Civil Code applies (Article 2263). Illegitimate
children other than natural are entitled to successional rights (Article 287). Where, as in this case,
the deceased died intestate, without legitimate descendants or ascendants, then his illegitimate
child shall succeed to his entire estate (Article 988), to the exclusion of appellant who is only a
collateral relative.
Wills and Succession 21
Case Digest

In the Matter of the Intestate Estates of the Deceased


Josefa Delgado and Guillermo Delgado, Heirs of Luis DELGADO, petitioners
vs.
Heirs of Marciana RUSTIA, respondents.
G.R. No. 155733. January 27, 2006

FACTS:

Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado died without a will. The claimants of their estates may
be divided into two groups: (1) the alleged heirs of Josefa Delgado, consisting of her half- and
full-blood siblings, nephews and nieces, and grandnephews and grandnieces, and (2) the alleged
heirs of Guillermo Rustia, particularly, his sisters, his nephews and nieces, his illegitimate child,
and the de facto adopted child (ampun-ampunan) of the decedents.

The Alleged Heirs of Josefa Delgado

The deceased Josefa Delgado was the daughter of Felisa Delgado by one Lucio Campo.
Aside from Josefa, five other children were born to the couple, namely, Nazario, Edilberta, Jose,
Jacoba, and Gorgonio, all surnamed Delgado. Felisa Delgado was never married to Lucio
Campo, hence, Josefa and her full-blood siblings were all natural children of Felisa Delgado.
However, Lucio Campo was not the first and only man in Felisa Delgado’s life. Before him was
Ramon Osorio with whom Felisa had a son, Luis Delgado.

The Marriage of Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado

Guillermo Rustia proposed marriage to Josefa Delgado but whether a marriage in fact took
place is disputed. Several circumstances give rise to the presumption that a valid marriage
existed between Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado. Their cohabitation of more than 50 years
cannot be doubted.

The Alleged Heirs of Guillermo Rustia

Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado never had any children but they took into their home
the youngsters Guillermina Rustia Rustia and Nanie Rustia. These children, never legally
adopted by the couple, were what was known in the local dialect as ampun-ampunan. During his
life with Josefa, however, Guillermo Rustia did manage to father an illegitimate child, the
intervenor-respondent Guillerma Rustia, with one Amparo Sagarbarria.

ISSUES:

1. Who are the lawful heirs of Josefa Delgado?


2. Whether or not the grandnephews and grandnieces of Josefa Delgado can inherit by right
of representation?
3. Who are the lawful heirs of Guillermo Rustia?

RULING:

1. The Lawful Heirs of Josefa Delgado

It was found out that Felisa Delgado and Ramon Osorio were never married. Hence, all the
children born to Felisa Delgado out of her relations with Ramon Osorio and Lucio Campo,
Wills and Succession 22
Case Digest

namely, Luis and his half-blood siblings Nazario, Edilberta, Jose, Jacoba, Gorgonio and the
decedent Josefa, all surnamed Delgado, were her natural children.

The above-named siblings of Josefa Delgado were related to her by full-blood, except Luis
Delgado, her half-brother. Nonetheless, since they were all illegitimate, they may inherit from
each other. Accordingly, all of them are entitled to inherit from Josefa Delgado.

However, the petitioners in this case are already the nephews, nieces, grandnephews and
grandnieces of Josefa Delgado. Under Article 972 of the new Civil Code, the right of
representation in the collateral line takes place only in favor of the children of brothers and sisters
(nephews and nieces). Consequently, it cannot be exercised by grandnephews and grandnieces.
Therefore, the only collateral relatives of Josefa Delgado who are entitled to partake of her
intestate estate are her brothers and sisters, or their children who were still alive at the time of her
death on September 8, 1972. They have a vested right to participate in the inheritance. The
records not being clear on this matter, it is now for the trial court to determine who were the
surviving brothers and sisters (or their children) of Josefa Delgado at the time of her death.
Together with Guillermo Rustia, they are entitled to inherit from Josefa Delgado in accordance
with Article 1001 of the new Civil Code:

Should brothers and sisters or their children survive with the widow or widower,
the latter shall be entitled to one-half of the inheritance and the brothers and
sisters or their children to the other one-half.

2. The Lawful Heirs of Guillermo Rustia

Guillerma Rustia is an illegitimate child of Guillermo Rustia. As such, she may be entitled to
successional rights only upon proof of an admission or recognition of paternity. She failed to
present authentic proof of recognition. Together with Guillermina Rustia Rustia, they were held
legal strangers to the deceased spouses and therefore not entitled to inherit from them ab
intestato.

Under Article 1002 of the new Civil Code, if there are no descendants, ascendants,
illegitimate children, or surviving spouse, the collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate
of the deceased. Therefore, the lawful heirs of Guillermo Rustia are the remaining claimants,
consisting of his sisters, nieces and nephews.

Therefore, the intestate estate of Guillermo Rustia shall inherit half of the intestate estate of
Josefa Delgado. The remaining half shall pertain to (a) the full and half-siblings of Josefa
Delgado who survived her and (b) the children of any of Josefa Delgado’s full- or half-siblings
who may have predeceased her, also surviving at the time of her death. Josefa Delgado’s
grandnephews and grandnieces are excluded from her estate. The trial court is hereby ordered
to determine the identities of the relatives of Josefa Delgado who are entitled to share in her
estate.

Guillermo Rustia’s estate (including its one-half share of Josefa Delgado’s estate) shall be
inherited by Marciana Rustia vda. de Damian and Hortencia Rustia Cruz (whose respective
shares shall be per capita) and the children of the late Roman Rustia, Sr. (who survived
Guillermo Rustia and whose respective shares shall be per stirpes). Considering that Marciana
Rustia vda. de Damian and Hortencia Rustia Cruz are now deceased, their respective shares
shall pertain to their estates.
Wills and Succession 23
Case Digest

Marcelina EDROSO, petitioner-appellant, vs.


Pablo and Basilio SABLAN, opponent-appellees.
G.R. No. 6878, September 13, 1913

FACTS:

Spouses Marcelina Edroso and Victoriano Sablan had a son named, Pedro who inherited two
parcels of land upon the death of his father. Subsequently, Pedro died, unmarried and without
issue, the two parcels of land passed through inheritance to his mother. Hence the hereditary title
whereupon is based the application for registration of her ownership. The two uncles of Pedro,
Pablo and Basilio Sablan (legitimate brothers of Victoriano) opposed the registration claiming that
either the registration be denied or if granted to her, the right reserved by law to them be recorded
in the registration of each parcel. The Court of Land Registration denied the registration holding
that the land in question partake of the nature of property required by law to be reserved and that
in such a case application could only be presented jointly in the names of the mother and the said
two uncles. Hence, this appeal.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not the property in question is in the nature of a reservable property.


2. Whether or not Marcelina Edroso has the absolute title of the property to cause its
registration.

RULING:

A very definite conclusions of law is that the hereditary title is one without a valuable
consideration (gratuitous tile), and it is so characterized in Article 968 of the Civil Code, for he
who acquires by inheritance gives nothing in return for what he receives; and a very definite
conclusion of law also is that the uncles are within the third degree of blood relationship.

Article 811. The ascendant who inherits from his descendant property which the
latter acquired without a valuable consideration from another descendant, or
form a brother or sister, is under obligation to reserve what he has acquired by
operation of law for the relatives who are within the third degree and belong to
the line where the property proceeded.

Marcelina Edroso, ascendant of Pedro Sablan, inherited from him the two parcels of land
which he had acquired without a valuable consideration – that is, by inheritance from another
ascendant, his father Victoriano. Having acquire them by operation of law, she is obligated to
relatives within the third degree and belong to the line of Mariano Sablan and Maria Rita
Fernandez (parents of Victoriano), where the lands proceeded. The trial court’s ruling that they
partake of the nature property required by law to be reserved is therefore in accordance with the
law.

The conclusion is that the person required by Article 811 to reserve the right has, beyond any
doubt at all, the rights to use and usufruct. He has, moreover, the legal title and dominion,
although under a condition subsequent. Clearly he has under an express provision of the law the
right to dispose of the property reserved, and to dispose of is to alienate, although under a
condition. He has the right to recover it, because he is the one who possesses or should possess
it and have title to it, although a limited and revocable one. In a word, the legal title and dominion,
even though under a condition, reside in him while he lives. After the right required by law to be
reserved has been assured, he can do anything that a genuine owner can do.
Wills and Succession 24
Case Digest

On the other hadn’t, the relatives within the third degree in whose favor of the right is
reserved cannot dispose of the property, first because it is no way, either actually or constructively
or formally, in their possession; and moreover, because they have no title of ownership or of the
fee simple which they can transmit to another, on the hypothesis that only when the person who
must reserve the right should die before them will they acquire it.
Wills and Succession 25
Case Digest

Estate of Miguel Mamuyac, Francisco GAGO, petitioner, vs.


Cornelio MAMUYAC, et al., opponents.
G.R. No. L-26317, January 29, 1927

FACTS:

Miguel Mamuyac executed a last will and testament on July 1918 and almost 4 years later,
Francisco Gago presented a petition in the CFI for the probation of such will which was opposed
by Cornelia Mamuyac et al. The petition was denied upon the ground that Mamuyac had
executed a new will on April 1919. An action was filed to secure the probation of the said new will.
The opponents alleged (a) that the said will is a copy of the second will executed by Miguel; (b)
that the same had been cancelled and revoked during the lifetime of the testator; and (c) that the
said will was not the last will and testament of Miguel Mamuyac. The petition was then again
denied upon the ground that the will of 1919 had been the cancelled and revoked based on the
evidence adduced by the trial court that the 1918 will is a mere carbon of its original which
remained in the possession of the deceased, who revoked it before a witness, who typed the
1919 will of the testator, and before another person who witnessed the actual cancellation by the
testator in 1920. Hence, this appeal.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the will in question has been revoked and cancelled.

RULING:

The law does not require any evidence of the revocation or cancellation of a will to be
preserved. Where a will which cannot be found is shown to have been in the possession of the
testator, when last seen, the presumption is, in the absence of other competent evidence, that the
same was cancelled or destroyed. The same presumption arises where it is shown that the
testator had ready access to the will and it cannot be found after his death. It will not be
presumed that such will has been destroyed by any other person without the knowledge or
authority of the testator. In view of the fact that the original will of 1919 could not be found after
the death of the testator and in view of the positive proof that the same had been cancelled, the
conclusions of the lower court are in accordance with the weight of evidence.

After a careful examination of the entire record, we are fully persuaded that the will presented
for probate had been cancelled by the testator in 1920.
Wills and Succession 26
Case Digest

Pedro D. H. GALLANOSA, et al., petitioners, vs.


Hon. Ubaldo Y. ARCANGEL, et al., respondents
G.R. No. L-29300; June 21, 1978

FACTS:

Florentino Hitosis, a childless widower executed a will wherein he beaqueathed his one-half
share in the conjugal estate to his second wife, Tecia Dollentas, and should Tecia predecease
him, as was the case, his one-half share would be assigned to the spouses Pedro Gallanosa and
Corazon Grecia, the reason being that Pedro, Tecia’s son by her first marriage, grew up under the
care of Florentino and had treated Perdo as his foster child. Florentiono likewise bequeathed his
separate properties to his protégé, Adolfo Fortajada, a minor. A petition for the probate of his will
was filed in CFI which was opposed by his legal heir, his brother Leon Hitosis and his nephews
and nieces. The court admitted the will to probate and appointed Gallanosa as executor.
Subsequently, the testamentary heirs submitted a project of partition which was approved by the
court, thus confirming the heirs’ possession of their respective shares. The testator’s legal heirs
did not appeal from the decree of probate and from the order of partition and distribution. Leon
instituted an action against Pedro for the recovery of the sixty-one parcels of land alleging that the
former had been in continuous possession of said land however, the complaint was dismissed on
the ground of res judicata. The legal heirs of the testator did not appeal from the order of
dismissal instead, 28 years after the probate of the will, they filed an action for the annulment of
the will of Florentino and for the recovery of the parcels of land. Pedro filed for the dismissal of
the complaint but the respondent judge set aside his order of dismissal and granted trial. Hence,
this petition for certiorari.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the private respondents have a cause of action for the annulment of the will of
Florention Hitosis and for the recovery of the parcels of land.

RULING:

The lower court committed a grave abuse of discretion in reconsidering its order of dismissal
and in ignoring the testamentary case. It is evident from the allegations of the complaint that the
action is barred by res judicata. The decree of probate is conclusive as to the due execution or
formal validity of the will. The decree of adjudication rendered by the trial court in the testate
proceeding for the settlement of the estate of Florentino Hitosis having been rendered in a
proceeding in rem, is binding upon the whole world.

The private respondents did not even bother to ask for the annulment of the testamentary
proceeding and the proceeding on partition. Obviously, they realized that the final adjudications in
those cases have the binding force of res judicata and that there is no ground, nor it is timely, to
ask for the nullification of the final orders and judgments in those two cases.
Wills and Succession 27
Case Digest

Testate Estate of Felicidad Esguerra Alto-Yap deceased


Fausto E. GAN, petitioner-appellant, vs.
Ildefonso YAP, oppositor-appellee.
G.R. No. L-12190; August 30, 1858

FACTS:

After the death of Felicidad Esguerra Alto-Yap, Fausto Gan filed a petition for the probate of a
holographic will allegedly executed by the fomer. Opposing the petition, her surviving husband
Ildefonso Yap asserted that the deceased had not left any will, nor executed any testament during
her lifetime. The will itself was not presented. Gan tried to establish its contents and due
execution by the statements of allegedly four (4) witnesses to the execution of the alleged will.
After hearing the parties and considering their evidence, the court refused to probate the alleged
will. Due to the denial of motion for reconsideration, Gan appealed.

ISSUE:

Whether or not a holographic will may be probated upon the testimony of witnesses who have
allegedly seen it and who declare that it was in the handwriting of the testator.

RULING:

The Rules of Court allow proof (and probate) of a lost or destroyed will by secondary
evidence – the testimony of witnesses in lieu of the original document. Yet such Rules could not
have contemplated holographic wills which could not then be validly made here.

The difference between holographic wills and ordinary will lies in the nature of the wills. In the
first, the only guarantee of authenticity is the handwriting itself, in the second, the testimony of the
subscribing or instrumental witnesses (and of the notary). The loss of the holographic will entails
the loss of the only medium of proof, if the ordinary will is lost, the subscribing witnesses are
available to authenticate.

The evidence of presented by Gan is refused to be credited. In addition to the dubious


circumstance described in the appealed decision, we find it hard to believe that the deceased
should show her will precisely to relative who had received nothing from it. These could pester
her into amending her will to give them a share, or threaten to reveal its execution to her
husband. Further, if she wanted so much to conceal the will from her husband, why did she not
entrust it to her beneficiaries? In fine, even if oral testimony were admissible to establish and
probate a lost holographic will, we think the evidence submitted by petitioner is so tainted with
improbabilities and inconsistencies that it fails to measure up to that :”clear and distinct” proof
required by the Rules of Court.
Wills and Succession 28
Case Digest

In the Matter of the Will of Antero Mercado, deceased,


Rosario GARCIA, petitioner, vs.
Juliana LACUESTA, et al., respondents.
G.R. No. L-4067, November 29, 1951

FACTS:

A will was executed by Antero Mercado wherein it appears that it was signed by Atty.
Florentino Javiwe who wrote the name of Antero. The testator was alleged to have written a cross
immediately after his name. The Court of First Instance found that the will was valid but the Court
of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision holding that the attestation clause failed: 1) to
certify that the will was signed on all the left margins of the three pages and at the end of the will
by Atty. Javier at the express request of the testator in the presence of the testator and each and
every one of the witnesses; 2) to certify that after the signing of the name of the testator by Atty.
Javier at the former’s request said testator has written a cross at the end of his name and on the
left margin of the three pages of which the will consists and at the end thereof 3) to certify that the
witnesses signed the will in all the pages thereon in the presence of the testator and of each
other. Hence, this appeal.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the attestation clause is valid.

RULING:

The attestation clause is fatally defective for failing to state that Antero Mercado caused Atty.
Javier to write the testator’s name under his express direction, as required by section 168 of the
Code of Civil Procedure. It is not here pretended that the cross appearing on the will is the usual
signature of Antero Mercado or even one of the ways by which he signed his name. After mature
reflection, the SC is not prepared to liken the mere sign of the cross to a thumbmark and the
reason is obvious. The cross cannot and does not have the trustworthiness of a thumbmark.
Wills and Succession 29
Case Digest

Rev. Father Lucio V. Garcia, petitioner, vs.


Hon. Conrado M. VASQUEZ, respondent.
G.R. No. L-26808, March 28, 1969

FACTS:

Gliceria Avelino del Rosario died unmarried and leaving no descendants, ascendants, brother
or sister thereafter, Consuelo S. Gonzales Vda. De Precilla, niece of the deceased petitioned for
probate the alleged last will and testament of Gliceria dated December 1960 and that she be
appointed as special administratrix. Various parties opposed the petition contending that the 1960
will was not intended by Gliceria to be her true will and that there was a 1956 will executed by
Gliceria were the oppositors were named as legatees. Consequently, Dr. Jesus V. Tamesis an
ophthalmologist testified that Gliceria’s left eye suffered form cataract in 1960 which made her
vision mainly for viewing distant object but not for reading prints.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Article 808 regarding blind testator be followed in the instant case to make
Gliceria’s will valid?

RULING:

For all intents and purposes of the rules on probate, the deceased Gliceria del Rosario was
like a blind testator and the due execution of her will would have required observance of the
provisions of Article 808 of the Civil Code.

Art. 808. If the testator is blind, the will shall be read to him
twice; once, by the notary public before whom the will is
acknowledged.

The rationale behind the requirement of reading the will to the testator if he is blind or
incapable of reading the will himself, is to make the provisions of the will known to the testator, so
that he may be able to object if they are not in accordance with his wishes. That the aim of the
law is to insure that the dispositions of the will are properly communicated to and understood by
the handicapped testator, thus making them truly reflective of his desire, is evidenced by the
requirement that the will should be read to the latter, not only once but twice, by two different
persons, and that the witnesses have to act within the range of his (the testator’s) other senses.
Wills and Succession 30
Case Digest

Rizalina Gabriel GONZALES, petitioner, vs.


Hon. COURT OF APPEALS and Lutgarda SANTIAGO, respondents.
G.R. No. L-37453, May 25, 1979

FACTS:

Lutgarda Santiago and Rizalina Gonzales are nieces of the late Isabel Andres Gabriel. Lutgarda
filed a petition for the probate of a will alleged to have been executed by the deceased and
designated Lutgarda as the principal beneficiary and executrix. There is no dispute that Isabel
died as a widow and without issue. The will submitted consists of five (5) pages and includes the
pages whereon the attestation clause and the acknowledgment of the notary public were written.
The signatures of the deceased Isabel Gabriel appear at the end of the will on page four and at
the left margin of all the pages. The petition was opposed by Rizalina assailing that the will is not
genuine and was not executed and attested as required by law. The lower court disallowed the
probate of said will and as a consequence, Lutgarda appealed to Court of Appeals reversed the
lower court’s decision and allowed the probate of the will. Rizalina filed a motion for
reconsideration but the same was denied. Hence this present action.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the will was executed and attested as required by law.

RULING:

Article 820 of the Civil Code provides for the qualifications of a witness to the execution of
wills while Article 821 sets forth the disqualification from being a witness to a will. In probate
proceedings, the instrumental witnesses are not character witnesses for they merely attest the
execution of a will or testament and affirm the formalities attendant to said execution. And we
agree with the respondent that the rulings laid down in the cases cited by petitioner concerning
character witnesses in naturalization proceedings are not applicable to instrumental witnesses to
wills executed under the Civil Code of the Philippines.

In the case at bar, the finding that each and everyone of the three instrumental witnesses are
competent and credible is satisfactorily supported by the evidence as found by the respondent
Court of Appeals, which findings of fact this Tribunal is bound to accept and rely upon. Moreover,
petitioner has not pointed to any disqualification of any of the said witnesses.
Wills and Succession 31
Case Digest

Beatriz L. GONZALES, petitioner, vs.


COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF MANILA, et al., respondents.
G.R. No. L-34395, May 19, 1981

FACTS:

Benito Legarda y De la Paz, the son of Benito Legarda y Tuason, died and was survived by his
widow, Filomena Roces, and their seven children. The real properties left by Benito were
partitioned in three equal portions by his daughters, Consuelo and Rita, and the heirs of his
deceased son Benito Legarda y De la Paz who were represented by Benito F. Legarda.

Filomena Legarda y Roces died intestate and without issue. Her sole heiress was her mother,
Filomena Roces Vda. de Legarda. Mrs. Legarda executed an affidavit adjudicating extrajudicially
to herself the properties which she inherited from her deceased daughter, Filomena Legarda. As
a result of the affidavit of adjudication, Filomena Roces succeeded her deceased daughter
Filomena Legarda as co-owner of the properties held proindiviso by her other six children.

Mrs. Legarda executed two hand-written identical documents wherein she disposed of the
properties, which she inherited from her daughter, in favor of the children of her sons, Benito,
Alejandro and Jose (sixteen grandchildren in all). She later died and her will was admitted to
probate as a holographic will in the Court of First Instance of Manila which was affirmed by the
Court of Appeals.

In the testate proceeding, Beatriz Legarda Gonzalez, a daughter of the testatrix, filed a motion to
exclude from the inventory of her mother's estate the properties which she inherited from her
deceased daughter, Filomena, on the ground that said properties are reservable properties which
should be inherited by Filomena Legarda's three sisters and three brothers and not by the
children of Benito, Alejandro and Jose, all surnamed Legarda. That motion was opposed by the
administrator, Benito F. Legarda.

Without awaiting the resolution on that motion, Mrs. Gonzalez filed an ordinary civil action against
her brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces and her mother's estate for the purpose of securing a
declaration that the said properties are reservable properties which Mrs. Legarda could not
bequeath in her holographic will to her grandchildren to the exclusion of her three daughters and
her three sons.

The lower court dismissed the action of Mrs. Gonzalez.

Mrs. Gonzales appealed under Republic Act No. 5440 and contends that the lower court erred in
not regarding the properties in question as reservable properties under article 891 of the Civil
Code.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not the properties in question are subject to reserva troncal?


2. Whether or not Filomena Roces Vda. de Legarda could dispose of the properties in
question in her will in favor of her grandchildren to the exclusion of her six children?

RULING:

The properties in question were indubitably reservable properties in the hands of Mrs.
Legarda. Undoubtedly, she was a reservor. The reservation became a certainty when at the time
Wills and Succession 32
Case Digest

of her death the reservees or relatives within the third degree of the prepositus Filomena Legarda
were living or they survived Mrs. Legarda.

Mrs. Legarda could not convey in her holographic will to her sixteen grandchildren the
reservable properties which she had inherited from her daughter Filomena because the
reservable properties did not form part of her estate. The reservor cannot make a disposition
mortis causa of the reservable properties as long as the reservees survived the reservor. The
said properties, by operation of article 891, should go to Mrs. Legarda's six children as reservees
within the second degree from Filomena Legarda.

The reservable property bequeathed by the reservor to her daughter does not form part of the
reservor's estate nor of the daughter's estate but should be given to all the seven reservees or
nearest relatives of the prepositus within the third degree.

It should be repeated that the reservees do not inherit from the reservor but from the
prepositus, of whom the reservees are the heirs mortis causa subject to the condition that they
must survive the reservor.
Wills and Succession 33
Case Digest

Tomas JIMENEZ, et al., petitioners, vs.


Hon. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, et al., respondents.
G.R. No. 75773, April 17, 1990

FACTS:

Leonardo (Lino) Jimenez married Consolacion Ungson with whom he begot four (4) children,
namely: Alberto, Leonardo, Sr., Alejandra and Angeles. During such marriage, Lino acquired five
(5) parcels of land in Salomague, Bugallon, Pangasinan. When Consolacion died, Lino contracted
a second marriage with Genoveva Caolboy with whom he begot the seven petitioners herein:
Tomas, Visitacion, Digno, Antonio, Amadeo, Modesto and Virginial, all surnamed Jimenez. After
Lino and Genoveva’s death, Virginia filed a petition before CFI praying to be appointed as
administratix of the properties of the deceased spouses Lino and Genoveva upon which
Leonardo Jimenez, Jr. filed a motion for exclusion of his father’s name and those of his uncle and
aunts contending that they have already received their inheritance consisting of five (f) parcels of
land. However, the petition of Virginia wherein she included the said five (5) parcels of land in the
inventory of the estate of spouses Lino and Genoveva. Consequently, Leonardo Jimenez, Jr.
moved for the exclusion of these properties from the inventory contending that such parcels of
land were already adjudicated to his father and to his uncle and aunts. The probate court ordered
the exclusion of the five (5) parcels of land and denied the motion for reconsideration filed by
Virginia. The latter went to CA on a petition for certiorari and prohibition seeking the annulment of
the orders of the probate court, of which the CA dismissed. Subsequently, the petitioners filed an
amended complained before the RTC to recover possession/ownership of the five (5) parcels of
land as part of the estate of Lino and Genoveva. Private respondents moved for the dismissal of
the complaint on the grounds that the action was barred by prior judgments and by prescription
and laches. Thereafter, the trial court dismissed the complaint on the ground of res judicata. A
motion for reconsideration was denied as well as the petition for certiorari and mandamus filed
before the appellate court. Hence, this petition for review on certiorari.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not in a settlement procceding (testate or intestate) the lower court has
jurisdiction to settle questions of ownership.
2. Whether or not the petitioners’ present action for the recovery of possession and
ownership of the five (5) parcels of land is barred by res judicata

RULING:

Petitioners’ present action for recovery of possession and ownership is appropriately filed
because as a general rule, a probate court can only pass upon questions of title provisionally. The
patent reason is the probate court’s limited jurisdiction and the principle that questions of title or
ownership, which result in inclusion or exclusion from the inventory of the property, can only be
settled in a separate action. It has been held that in a special proceeding for the probate of a will,
the question of ownership is an extraneous matter which the probate court cannot resolve with
finality. This pronouncement no doubt applies with equal force to intestate proceedings as in the
case at bar.

Res judicata does not exist because of the difference in the causes of actions. The other
action was for the settlement of the intestate estate of Lino and Genoveca while the other one
was an action for the recovery of possession and ownership of the five (5) parcles of land.
Moreover, while the CFI had jurisdiction, the same was merely limited jurisdiction. Any
pronouncement by said court as to title is not conclusive and could still be attacked in a separate
proceeding.
Wills and Succession 34
Case Digest

Indeed, the grounds relied upon by private respondents in their motion to dismiss do not
appear to be indubitable. Res judicata has been shown to be unavailable and the other grounds
of prescription and laches pleaded by private respondents are seriously disputed.
Wills and Succession 35
Case Digest

Rosa K. Kalaw, petitioner, vs.


Hon. Judge Benjamin RELOVA
and Gregorio K. KALAW, respondents.
G.R. No. L-40207, September 28, 1984.

FACTS:

Natividad K. Kalaw made a holographic will executed on December 24, 1968. Originally, the will
named Rosa K. Kalaw, sister of Natividad, as the sole heir. However, Natividad eventually
changed the name on the will by crossing out Rosa’s name and replacing it with Gregorio K.
Kalaw as sole heir instead. Natividad failed to properly authenticate such alteration with her full
signature.

Because of this, the parties decided to submit the holographic will for an examination by the
National Bureau of Investigation. The Bureau’s findings confirmed that the original writings and
those of the alterations were written by the same person.

Rosa argued that the probate should be denied since the alteration on the will is invalid for failing
to comply with Art. 814 which states that “In case of any insertion, cancellation, erasure or
alteration in a holographic will the testator must authenticate the same by his full signature”.
Further, Rosa asserted that the will should be probated on its original content before the alteration
was made.

Gregorio contends that the mere fact that Rosa agreed to submit the will for examination
estoppes her from questioning the validity of the alteration and invoking Art. 814 of the Civil Code.

Judge Benjamin Relova denied the probate on the will.

Rosa now sought for the probate on the will as to its original unaltered text.

ISSUE:

May the will, in case of alterations, corrections, or cancellations, without the proper
authentication, be submitted for probate as to the original content prior to such alteration,
correction, or cancellation.

RULING:

No, this cannot be done.

Ordinarily, when a number of erasures, corrections, and interlineations made by the testator
in a holographic Will have not been noted under his signature, the Will is not thereby invalidated
as a whole, but at most only as respects the particular words erased, corrected or interlined.

However, when as in this case, the holographic Will in dispute had only one substantial
provision, which was altered by substituting the original heir with another, but which alteration did
not carry the requisite of full authentication by the full signature of the testator, the effect must be
that the entire Will is voided or revoked for the simple reason that nothing remains in the Will after
that which could remain valid.

To state that the Will as first written should be given efficacy is to disregard the seeming
change of mind of the testatrix. But that change of mind can neither be given effect because she
failed to authenticate it in the manner required by law by affixing her full signature. As it is, with
Wills and Succession 36
Case Digest

the erasures, cancellations and alterations made by the testatrix herein, her real intention cannot
be determined with certitude.
Wills and Succession 37
Case Digest

RIcardo LARCERNA, et al.,plaintiffs-appellants, vs.


Agatona Paurillo VDA. DE CORCINO,defendant-appellee.
Jacoba MARBEBE,intervenor-appellee.
G.R. No. L-14603, April 29, 1961

FACTS:

Valentine Marbebe begot a daughter, Jacoba Marbebe, before his marriage with Bonifacia
Lacerna. Valentine and Bonificia had an only son, Juan.

Valentine and Bonifacia died leaving three parcels of land to their only son Juan. Juan, then,
executed a power of attorney authorizing the sister of his mother or his aunt, Agatona Vda. de
Corcino take care of the disputed land. Eventually, Juan died intestate and without any issue.
The Court of First Instance declared that the land is property of Jacoba being the half sister of
Juan. Agatona Vda. de Corcino and the nephews and nieces of Bonifacia questioned the
decision of the court. According to them, the case should be based upon Article 891 of the Civil
Code of the Philippines which establishes what is known as "reserva troncal." According to them,
under this principle, the properties in dispute should pass to the heirs of the deceased within the
third degree, who belong to the line from which said properties came. Thus, since Juan Marbebe
inherited the land from his mother, they should go to his nearest relative within the third degree on
the maternal line or to his aunt and cousins and not to Jacoba Marbebe for she belongs to the
paternal line. This, however, was protested by Jacoba Marbebe. She contends that pursuant to
Articles 1003 to 1009 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, brothers and sisters exclude all other
collateral relatives in the order of intestate succession, and that, as Juan Marbebe's half-sister,
she has, accordingly, a better right than plaintiffs herein to inherit his properties.

ISSUE:

Who has the better right to succeed Juan?

RULING:

The provision on reserve troncal cannot be applied in this case. In reserve troncal, the
ascendant who inherits from his descendant any property which the latter may have acquired by
gratuitous title from another ascendant, or a brother or sister, is obliged to reserve such property
as he may have acquired by operation of law for the benefit of relatives who are within the third
degree and who belong to the line from which said property came. (Emphasis supplied.) This
article applies only to properties inherited, under the conditions therein set forth, by an ascendant
from a descendant, and this is not the scenario in the given case, for the lands in dispute were
inherited by a descendant, Juan Marbebe, from an ascendant, his mother, Bonifacia Lacerna.
Said legal provision is, therefore, not applicable in this case.

Furthermore, the Trial Judge, correctly awarded the land to Jacoba Marbebe. The said
decision is in accordance with the order prescribed for intestate succession, particularly Articles
1003 to 1009 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, pursuant to which a sister, even if only a half-
sister, in the absence of other sisters or brothers, or of children of brothers or sisters, excludes all
other collateral relatives, regardless of whether or not the latter belong to the line from which the
property of the deceased came.

Based on the foregoing, Jacoba Marbebe has the better right to succeed Juan.
Wills and Succession 38
Case Digest

Testacy of Sixto Lopez, Jose S. LOPEZ, petitioner-appellee,


vs. Agustin LIBORO, oppositor-appellant.
G.R. No. L-1787

FACTS:

The will of Don Sixto Lopez was submitted for probate by Jose Lopez and Clemencia Lopez,
the Don’s sister. The probate was opposed by Agustin Liboro who contended that the will is not
valid due to the following grounds:

(1) that the deceased never executed the alleged will; 2) that his signature appearing in said
will was a forgery; (3) that at the time of the execution of the will, he was wanting in testamentary
as well as mental capacity due to advanced age; (4) that, if he did ever execute said will, it was
not executed and attested as required by law, and one of the alleged instrumental witnesses was
incapacitated to act as such; and it was procured by duress, influence of fear and threats and
undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of the beneficiaries instituted therein,
principally the testator's sister, Clemencia Lopez, and the herein proponent, Jose S. Lopez; and
(5) that the signature of the testator was procured by fraud or trick.

Liboro pointed out that the first page of the will, which was contained in two pages in all, was
not numbered in letters or Arabic numbers as what should have been required by law. It was also
argued that the testator should have signed the will with his signature and not only with his thumb
print if he indeed had the capacity to execute the will. Furthermore, the will did not expressly state
that the language used is a language which the Don understood; in this case, it was in Spanish.

ISSUE:

Whether or not there was substantial compliance to qualify the will for probate.

RULING:

There has been substantial compliance even in the presence of the averred irregularities.

The purpose of the law in prescribing the paging of wills is guard against fraud, and to afford
means of preventing the substitution or of defecting the loss of any of its pages. In the present
case, the omission to put a page number on the first sheet, if that be necessary, is supplied by
other forms of identification more trustworthy than the conventional numerical words or
characters. The unnumbered page is clearly identified as the first page by the internal sense of its
contents considered in relation to the contents of the second page. By their meaning and
coherence, the first and second lines on the second page are undeniably a continuation of the
last sentence of the testament, before the attestation clause, which starts at the bottom of the
preceding page. Furthermore, the unnumbered page contains the caption "TESTAMENTO," the
invocation of the Almighty, and a recital that the testator was in full use of his testamentary faculty,
— all of which, in the logical order of sequence, precede the direction for the disposition of the
marker's property. Again, as page two contains only the two lines above mentioned, the
attestation clause, the mark of the testator and the signatures of the witnesses, the other sheet
can not by any possibility be taken for other than page one.

The testator affixed his thumbmark to the instrument instead of signing his name. The reason
for this was that the testator was suffering from "partial paralysis." While another in testator's
place might have directed someone else to sign for him, as appellant contends should have been
done, there is nothing curious or suspicious in the fact that the testator chose the use of mark as
Wills and Succession 39
Case Digest

the means of authenticating his will. It was a matter of taste or preference. Both ways are good. A
statute requiring a will to be "signed" is satisfied if the signature is made by the testator's mark.

As for the question on the language of the will, there is no statutory requirement that such
knowledge be expressly stated in the will itself. It is a matter that may be established by proof
aliunde.

The will may therefore be submitted for probate.


Wills and Succession 40
Case Digest

Testate Estate of the Late Adriana Maloto,


Aldina MALOTO CASIANO, et al., petitioners, vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, Panfilo MALOTO and Felino MALOTO, respondents.
G.R. No. 76464, February 29, 1988

FACTS:

Adriana Maloto died leaving as heirs the parties (Aldina, Constantcio, Panfilo and Felino) in
this case who are her niece and nephews. Believing that the deceased did not leave behind a last
will and testament, the four (4) heirs commenced an intestate proceeding for the settlement of
their aunt’s estate which was instituted in the then CFI. However, while the case was still in
progress, the heirs executed an agreement of extrajudicial settlement of Adriana’s estate which
provides for the division of the estate into four equal parts among themselves. When presented
before the court, said agreement was approved. However, three years later, Atty. Sulpicio Palma,
a former associate of Adriana’s counsel, discovered a document entitled “KATAPUSAN NGA
PAGBUBULAT-AN (Testamento) and purporting to be the last will and testament of Adriana.
Panfilo and Felino are still named as heirs in the said will, Aldina and Constancio are bequeathed
much bigger and more valuable shares in the estate that what they have received by virtue of the
agreement of extrajudicial settlement. The will likewise gives devises and legacies to other
parties, among them being the petitioners. Thus, Aldino and Constancio joined by other devisees
and legatees filed a motion for reconsideration and annulment of the proceedings therein and for
the allowance of the will. Upon denial of the trial court, the petitioners came before the Supreme
Court by way or petition for certiorari and mandamus which were dismissed because they were
not the proper remedies. The appellate court found out that the will was burned by the
househelper of Adriana and was at the possession of the lawyer in because Adriana was seeking
the services of the lawyer in order to have a new will drawn up.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the will of Adriana Maloto had been efficiently revoked.

RULING:

Article 830. No will shall be revoked except in the following


cases:

1. By implication of law; or

2. By some will, codicil, or other writing executed as


provided in case of wills; or

3. By burning, tearing, cancelling, or obliterating the will


with the intention of revoking it, by the testator himself,
or by some other person in his presence, and by his
express direction. If burned, torn, cancelled, or
obliterated by some other person, without the express
direction of the testator, the will may still be established,
and the estate distributed in accordance therewith, if its
contents, and due execution, and the fact of its
unauthorized destruction, cancellation, or obliteration
are established according to the Rules of Court.
Wills and Succession 41
Case Digest

In this case, while animus revocandi or the intention to revoke, may be conceded, for that is a
state of mind, yet that requisite alone would not suffice. Animus revocandi is only one of the
necessary elements for the effective revocation of a last will and testament. The intention to
revoke must be accompanied by the overt physical act of burning, tearing, obliterating, or
cancelling the will carried out by the testator or by another person in his presence and under his
express direction. There is paucity of evidence to show compliance with these requirements. For
one, the document or papers burned by Adriana’s maid was not satisfactorily established to be a
will at all, much less the will of Adriana Maloto. For another, the burning was not proven to have
been done under the express direction of Adriana and was not done in her presence.
Wills and Succession 42
Case Digest

Beatriz NERA, et al., plaintiffs-appellees, vs.


Narcisa RIMANDO, defendant-appellant.
G.R. No. L-5971, February 27, 1911

FACTS:

Rimando opposes the admission for probate of a certain will on the ground that one of the
subscribing witnesses therein was present in the small room where it was executed at the time
when the testator and the other subscribing witnesses attached their signatures. That time he
was outside, some eight or ten feet away, in a large room connecting with the smaller room by a
doorway, across which was hung a curtain which made it impossible for one in the outside room
to see the testator and the other subscribing witnesses in the act of attaching their signatures to
the instrument.

ISSUE:

How may the requirement of the law for all witnesses to subscribe to the will “in the presence” of
each other apply to this case.

RULING:

The will may be admitted for probate.

The true test of presence of the testator and the witnesses in the execution of a will is not
whether they actually saw each other sign, but whether they might have been seen each other
sign, had they chosen to do so, considering their mental and physical condition and position with
relation to each other at the moment of inscription of each signature.

But it is especially to be noted that the position of the parties with relation to each other at the
moment of the subscription of each signature, must be such that they may see each other sign if
they choose to do so. This, of course, does not mean that the testator and the subscribing
witnesses may be held to have executed the instrument in the presence of each other if it
appears that they would not have been able to see each other sign at that moment, without
changing their relative positions or existing conditions. At the moment when a witness signs the
document he was actually and physically present and in such position with relation to the other
witnesses that he could see everything that took place by merely casting his eyes in the proper
direction and without any physical obstruction to prevent his doing so.

The question whether the testator and the subscribing witnesses to an alleged will sign the
instrument in the presence of each other does not depend upon proof of the fact that their eyes
were actually cast upon the paper at the moment of its subscription by each of them, but that at
that moment existing conditions and their position with relation to each other were such that by
merely casting the eyes in the proper direction they could have seen each other sign.
Wills and Succession 43
Case Digest

Remedios NUGUID, petitioner and appellant, vs.


Felix NUGUID and Paz Salonga NUGUID, oppositors and appellees.
G.R. No. L-23445, June 23, 1966

FACTS:

Rosario Nuguid, testator in the holographic will, died single and without descendants,
legitimate or illegitimate. Surviving her were her legitimate parents, Felix Nuguid and Paz Salonga
Nuguid, and six brothers and sisters, namely: Alfredo, Federico, Remedios, Conrado, Lourdes
and Alberto, all surnamed Nuguid.

On May 18, 1963, Remedios Nuguid, sister of Rosario, filed in the Court of First Instance of
Rizal a holographic will allegedly executed by Rosario Nuguid on November 17, 1951, some 11
years before her death. The will stated as follows:

Nov.
17, 1951

I, ROSARIO NUGUID, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, having
amassed a certain amount of property, do hereby give, devise, and bequeath all of the
property which I may have when I die to my beloved sister Remedios Nuguid, age 34,
residing with me at 38-B Iriga, Q.C. In witness whereof, I have signed my name this
seventh day of November, nineteen hundred and fifty-one.

(Sgd.) Illegible

T/ ROSARIO NUGUID

Remedios prayed that said will be admitted to probate and that letters of administration
with the will annexed be issued to her. This was opposed by the parents of Rosario, Felix and
Paz.

The parents opposed on the ground of preterition. The CFI of Rizal decided in favor of the
parents and declared that there was indeed preterition of compulsory heirs.

Petitioner insists that the compulsory heirs were simply ineffectively disinherited and that
they are entitled to receive their legitimes, but that the institution of heir "is not invalidated,"
although the inheritance of the heir so instituted is reduced to the extent of said legitimes.

ISSUE:

May a part of the will, when preterition has been declared, be considered to still be valid with
respect to the free portion of the will?

RULING:

No, preterition has an effect of completely nullifying the will. Article 854 of the Civil Code
states that “(T)he preterition or omission of one, some, or all of the compulsory heirs in the direct
line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will or born after the death of the testator,
shall annul the institution of heir; but the devises and legacies shall be valid insofar as they are
not inofficious.”
Wills and Succession 44
Case Digest

The deceased Rosario Nuguid left no descendants, legitimate or illegitimate. But she left
forced heirs in the direct ascending line her parents. The will completely omits both of them. They
thus received nothing by the testament; tacitly, they were deprived of their legitime; neither were
they expressly disinherited. This is a clear case of preterition.

It cannot be gleaned in the will that any specific legacies or bequests are therein provided for.
It is in this posture that the Supreme Court held that the nullity is complete. Perforce, Rosario
Nuguid died intestate.

Remedios’ claim that the will should only be nullified as to the part of the legitime and that she
should thus be considered a devisee or legatee is without merit. The law requires that the
institution of devisees and legatees must be expressly stated in the will. Such was not present.

Also, the omission of the parents in the will cannot be interpreted as a form of disinheritance
as the law also requires that, for disinheritance to be proper, the disinheritance should be clearly
and expressly stated in the will. Absent that, no inference of disinheritance may be had.
Wills and Succession 45
Case Digest

Hilarion, Jr. and Enrico ORENDAIN, represented by


Fe D. ORENDAIN, petitioners, vs.
Trusteeship of the Estate of Doña Margarita RODRIGUEZ, respondent.
G.R. No. 168660, June 30, 2009

FACTS:

On July 19, 1960, the decedent, Doña Margarita Rodriguez, died in Manila, leaving a last will
and testament. The will was admitted to probate. At the time of her death, the decedent left no
compulsory or forced heirs and, consequently, was completely free to dispose of her properties,
without regard to legitimes, as provided in her will. Some of Doña Margarita Rodriguez’s
testamentary dispositions contemplated the creation of a trust to manage the properties and the
income from her properties for distribution to beneficiaries specified in the will.

Thus, the following pertinent items in the will paint the desire of the decedent:

1. Clause 2 instructed the creation of trust;

2. Clause 3 instructed that the remaining income from specified properties, after the necessary
deductions for expenses, including the estate tax, be deposited in a fund with a bank;

3. Clause 10 enumerated the properties to be placed in trust for perpetual administration


(pangasiwaan sa habang panahon);

4. Clauses 11 and 12 directed how the income from the properties ought to be divided among,
and distributed to the different beneficiaries; and

5. Clause 24 instructed the administrators to provide medical support to certain beneficiaries, to


be deducted from the fund deposits in the bank mentioned in Clauses 2 and 3.

Almost four decades later, herein petitioners Hilarion, Jr. and Enrico Orendain, heirs of
Hilarion Orendain, Sr. who was mentioned in Clause 24 of the decedent’s will, moved to dissolve
the trust on the decedent’s estate, which they argued had been in existence for more than twenty
years, in violation of Articles 867 and 870 of the Civil Code.

The trustees argued that the trust instituted may be perpetual citing the case of Palad, et al. v.
Governor of Quezon Province where the trust holding the two estate of one Luis Palad was
allowed to exist even after the lapse of twenty years.

ISSUE:

1. Whether or not a trust may be perpetual.


2. Whether or not the named trustees may be considered as heirs to the estate.

RULING:

The general rule remains that upon the expiration of the twenty-year allowable period, the
estate may be disposed of under Article 870 of the New Civil Code, which regards as void any
disposition of the testator declaring all or part of the estate inalienable for more than 20 years.

The Palad Case is not violative of such provision of the law by the trust constituted by Luis
Palad because the will of the testator does not interdict the alienation of the parcels devised. The
Wills and Succession 46
Case Digest

will merely directs that the income of said two parcels be utilized for the establishment,
maintenance and operation of the high school.

Said Article 870 was designed to give more impetus to the socialization of the ownership of
property and to prevent the perpetuation of large holdings which give rise to agrarian troubles.
The trust involved in the Palad case covers only two lots, which have not been shown to be a
large landholding. And the income derived therefrom is being devoted to a public and social
purpose – the education of the youth of the land. The use of said parcels therefore is in a sense
socialized.

In the present case, however, there is a different situation as the testatrix specifically
prohibited the alienation or mortgage of her properties which were definitely more than the two (2)
properties, unlike in the Palad case. The herein testatrix’s large landholdings cannot be subjected
indefinitely to a trust because the ownership thereof would then effectively remain with her even
in the afterlife.

Apparent from the decedent’s last will and testament is the creation of a trust on a specific set
of properties and the income accruing therefrom. Nowhere in the will can it be ascertained that
the decedent intended any of the trust’s designated beneficiaries to inherit these properties.
Therefore, the probate court must admit the case to determine the properties to be subject to
intestate succession as well as the nearest relative of the deceased that may inherit the said
properties under the perpetual trust.
Wills and Succession 47
Case Digest

OZAETA vs. CUARTERO


G.R. No. L-5597, May 31, 1956

FACTS:

Maria Cuartero and Rosa Gonzales both claimed that they were married to Carlos Palanca
Taguinlay in 1929 and 1945, respectively. The marriage of Rosa to Carlos had been duly
established by testimonial and documentary evidence. One of the pieces of evidence presented
was the will executed by Carlos Palanca wherein he declared that he married Rosa Gonzales in
which marriage they had eight children.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the declarations in a valid Last Will and Testament may be admitted as conclusive
evidence of an existence of a fact during the lifetime of the testator.

RULING:

Declarations in a valid Last Will and Testament may be admitted as conclusive evidence of an
existence of a fact during the lifetime of the testator of the said Will. Palanca executed his will and
he made the solemn declaration in said document that since 1923 and for some years thereafter
he maintained amorous relations with Maria Cuartero and had by her six natural children whom,
according to him, he had liberally fed and supported. He said nothing about having married Maria;
on the contrary, he declared that for grave reasons he regarded her unworthy of being the
guardian of the persons and property of his children by her and so appointed Felisa Joson de
Fernandez and the Philippine National Bank as guardians of their persons, and property
respectively. On the other hand, in the same will he spoke of his marriage to Rosa Gonzales and
the eight children he had by her, which children according to him were legitimated by reason of
their subsequent marriage. Said declaration in the will may not be taken lightly, as a statement of
little significance. When he made said statement he was about 76 years old and must have felt
that he had not many years left to live.
Wills and Succession 48
Case Digest

PADURA vs. BALDOVINO


G.R. No. L-11960, December 27, 1958

FACTS:

In an order, the Court of First Instance of Laguna in Special Proceedings declared all the
reservees, without distinction, “co-owners pro indiviso in equal shares of the parcels of land”
subject matter of the suit.

RULING:

The appealed order was reversed and set aside. The reservatarios who are nephews of the
full blood are declared entitled to a share twice as large as that of the nephews of the half-blood.
Records are remanded to the court below for further proceedings.
Wills and Succession 49
Case Digest

Spouses Alvaro PASTOR, Jr. and Ma. Elena Achaval de PASTOR, petitioners, vs.
The COURT OF APPEALS, Hon. Juan Y. REYES, and Lewellyn QUEMADA,
respondents.
G.R. No. L-56340, June 24, 1983.

FACTS:

Spouses Alvaro Pastor, Sr. and Sofia Bossio were survived by their two legitimate children
Alvaro Pastor, Jr. (Pastor Jr.) and Sofia Pastor (Sofia), and an illegitimate child, Lewellyn
Quemada. Quemada filed a petition for the probate and allowance of an alleged holographic will
of Pastor Sr. with the CFI which contained only one testamentary disposition: a legacy in favor of
Quemada consisting of 30% of Pastor Sr.’s 42% share in the operation by ATLAS. Thereafter, the
probate court appointed Quemada as special administrator of the entire estate of Pastor Sr.
whether or not covered or affected by the holographic will. Consequently, Quemada instituted
against Pastor Jr., and his wife an action for reconveyance of alleged properties of estate which
included the properties subject of the legacy which were in the names of spouses Pastor Sr. and
Ma. Elena, who claimed to be the owners in their own rights, and not by inheritance. The probate
court issued an order allowing the will to probate. The order was affirmed by CA and on petition
for review, the SC dismissed the petition and remanded the same to the probate court after
denying reconsideration. For two years after remand of the case to the probate court, all
pleadings of both parties remained unacted upon. Not long after, the probate court set the hearing
on the intrinsic validity of the will but upon objection of Pastor Jr. and Sofia on the ground of
pendency of the reconveyance suit, no hearing was held. Instead, the probate court required the
parties to submit their respective position papers. While the reconveyance suit was still pending in
another court, the probate court issued Order of Execution and Garnishment, resolving the
question of ownership of the royalties payable by ATLAS and ruling in effect that the legacy to
Quemada was not inofficious. Pursuant to said order, ATLAS was directed to remit directly to
Quemada the 42% royalties due to decedent’s estate, of which Quemada was authorized to
retain 75% for himself as legatee. Further, the 33% share of Pastor Jr. and/or his assignees was
ordered garnished to answer for the accumulated legacy of Quemada. Being “immediately
executory”, Quemada succeeded in obtaining a Writ of Execution and Garnishment. The
oppositors sought reconsideration thereof but in the meantime, the probate court ordered
suspension of payment of all royalties due Pastor Jr. and/or his assignees until after resolution of
oppositor’s motion for reconsideration. Pending motion, Pastor Jr. and his wife filed with the CA a
petition for certiorari and prohibition with a prayer for writ of preliminary injunction assailing the
writ of execution and garnishment issued by the probate court. However, said petition was denied
as well as their motion for reconsideration. Hence, this petition for review by certiorari with prayer
for a writ of preliminary injunction.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the Probate Order resolved with finality the questions of ownership and
intrinsic validity.

RULING:

In a special proceeding for the probate of a will, the issue by and large is restricted to the
extrinsic validity of the will. As a rule, the question of ownership is an extraneous matter which the
Probate Court cannot resolve with finality. Thus, for the purpose of determining whether a certain
property should or should not be included in the inventory of estate properties, the Probate Court
may pass upon the title thereto, but such determination is provisional, not conclusive, and is
subject to the final decision in a separate action to resolve title.
Wills and Succession 50
Case Digest

The Order sought to be executed by the assailed Order of execution is the Probate Order
allegedly resolved the question of ownership of the disputed mining properties. However,
nowhere in the dispositive portion is there a declaration of ownership of specific properties. On
the contrary, it is manifested therein that ownership was not resolved. For it confined itself to the
question of extrinsic validity of the will, and the need for and propriety of appointing a special
administrator. Thus it allowed and approved the holographic will “with respect to its extrinsic
validity, the same having been duly authenticated pursuant to the requisites or solemnities
prescribed by law.” It declared that the intestate estate administration aspect must proceed
subject to the outcome of the suit for reconveyance of ownership and possession of real and
personal properties.

The Probate Court did not resolve the question of ownership of the properties listed in the
estate inventory, considering that the issue of ownership was the very subject of controversy in
the reconveyance suit that was still pending. It was, therefore, error for the assailed implementing
Orders to conclude that the Probate Order adjudged with finality the question of ownership of the
mining properties and royalties, and that, premised on this conclusion, the dispositive portion of
the said Probate Order directed special administrator to pay the legacy in dispute.
Wills and Succession 51
Case Digest

In the Matter of the Intestate Estate of Andres G. De Jesus and


Bibiana Roxa de Jesus, Simeon R. ROXAS and Pedro ROXAS de Jesus, petitioners
vs. Andres R. de JESUS, Jr.
G.R. No. L-38338, January 28, 1985

FACTS:

After the death of spouses Andres and Bibiana de Jesus, a special proceeding was instituted
by Simeon, brother of Bibiana. Simeon was then appointed administrator of the estate and
consequently, he delivered to the lower court a document purporting to be the holographic will of
Bibiana which was then set for a hearing. Luz Henson, one of the compulsory heirs filed an
opposition to probate assailing the purported holographic Will of Bibiana was not executed in
accordance with law. However, the lower court issued an order allowing the probate which was
found to have been duly executed in accordance with law. A motion for reconsideration was then
filed by Luz assailing that the alleged holographic will was not dated as required by Article 810 of
the Civil Code and contending that the law requires that the Will should contain the day, month
and year of its execution and that this should be strictly complied with. The court then
reconsidered its earlier order and disallowed the probate of the holographic will on the ground
that the word “dated” has generally been held to include the month, day, and year.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the date (FEB/61) appearing on the holographic will of the deceased Bibian
Roxas de Jesus is a valid compliance with the Article 810 of the Civil Code.

RULING:

ART. 810. A person may execute a holographic will which must be entirely
written, dated, and signed by the hand of the testator himself. It is subject to no
other form, and may be made in or out of the Philippines, and need not be
witnessed.

As a general rule, the “date” in a holographic will should include the day, month and year of
its execution. However, when as in the case at bar, there is no appearance of fraud, bad faith,
undue influence and pressure and the authenticity of the Will is established and the only issue is
whether or not the date “FEB/61” appearing on the holographic will is a valid compliance with
Article 810 of the Civil Code, probate of the holographic Will should be allowed under the principle
of substantial compliance.
Wills and Succession 52
Case Digest

In the Matter of the Instestate Estate of Pedro Santillon,


Claro SANTILLON, petitioner-appellant, vs.
Perfecta MIRANDA, Benito MIRANDA and Rosario
CORRALES, oppositors-appellees.
G.R. No. L-19281, June 30, 1965

FACTS:

Pedro Santillon died without testament leaving his wife, Perfecta Miranda and one son, Claro.
Four years after Pedro’s death, Claro filed a petition for letters of administration which was
opposed by his mother and spouses Benito Miranda and Rosario Corrales. The court appointed
commissioners to draft a project of partition and distribution of all properties of Pedro. Claro then
filed a motion to declare share of heirs and to resolve conflicting claims of the parties invoking Art.
892 of the New Civil Code insisting that after deducting ½ from the conjugal properties (conjugal
share of Perfecta), the remaining ½ must be divided as follows: ¼ for her and ¾ for him. On the
other hand, Perfecta claimed besides her conjugal half, she was entitled under Art. 996 of the
NCC to another ½ of the remaining half. After due notice and hearing, the court held that Perfecta
is entitled to ½ share and the remaining ½ share for Claro after deducting the share of the widow
as co-owner of the conjugal properties. Hence, this appeal.

ISSUE:

The manner of division of share of the estate of an intestate decedent when the only survivors are
the spouse and one legitimate child.

RULING:

Intestate proceedings in the New Civil Code’s chapter on legal or intestate succession, the
only article applicable is Art. 996.

Our conclusion (equal shares) seems a logical inference from the circumstance that whereas
Article 834 of the Spanish Civil Code form which Art. 996 was taken, contained two paragraphs
governing two contingencies, the first, where the widow or widower survives with legitimate
children (general rule), and the second, where the widow or widower survives with only one child
(exception), Art. 996 omitted to provide for the second situation, thereby indicating the legislator’s
desire to promulgate just one general rule applicable to both situations.
Wills and Succession 53
Case Digest

Dy Yieng SEANGIO, Barbara D. SEANGIO and Virginia D. SEANGIO, petitioners,


vs. Hon. Amor A. REYES, Alfredo SEANGIO, et al., respondents.
G.R. Nos. 140371-72, November 27, 2006

FACTS:

Private respondents filed a petition for the settlement of the intestate estate of the late Segundo
Seangio and praying for the appointment of private respondent Elisa D. Seangio-Santos as
special administrator and guardian ad litem of Dy Yieng Seangio. However, petitioners Dy Yieng,
Barbara and Virginia opposed the petition contending that: 1) Dy Yieng is still very healthy; 2)
Segundo executed a general power of attorney in favor of Virginia giving her the power to
manage and exercise control and supervision over his business in the Philippines; 3) Virginia is
the most competent and qualified to serve as the administrator of the estate; and 4) Segundo left
a holographic will disinheriting one of the private respondents. Thereafter, a petition for the
probate of the holographic will of Segundo was filed by the petitioner and reiterating that the
probate proceedings should take precedence over the petition filed by the private respondents
because testate proceedings take precedence and enjoy priority over the intestate proceedings.
The two petitions were then consolidated. Private respondents moved for the dismissal of the
probate proceedings on the ground that the document purporting to be the holographic will of
Segundo does not contain any disposition of the estate of the deceased and thus does not meet
the definition of a will under Article 783 of the Civil Code, of which petitioners filed their opposition
to the motion to dismiss. RTC then issued an order dismissing the petition for probate
proceedings. Due to petitioner’s denial of motion for reconsideration, hence this present action.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not the holographic will is valid.


2. Such that, whether or not the disinheritance is valid.

RULING:

A holographic will, as provided under Article 819 of the Civil Code, must be entirely written,
dated, and signed by the hand of the testator himself. It is subject to no other form, and may be
made in or out of the Philippines, and need to be witnessed.

Secundo’s document, although it may initially come across as a mere disinheritance


instrument, conforms to the formalities of a holographic will prescribed by law. It is written, dated
and signed by the hand of Sefundo himself. An intent to dispose mortis causa can be clearly
deduced from the terms of the instrument, and while it does not make an affirmative disposition of
the latter’s property, the disinheritance of Alfredo, nonetheless, is an act of disposition in itself. In
other words, the disinheritance results in the disposition of the property of the testator Segundo in
favor of those who would succeed in the absence of Alfredo.

The document entitled, Kasulatan ng Pag-Alis ng Mana, unmistakably showed Segundo’s


intention of excluding his eldest son, Alfredo, as an heir to his estate for the reasons that he cited
therein. In effect, Alfredo was disinherited by Segundo. For disinheritance to be valid, Article 916
of the Civil Code requires that the same must be effected through a will wherein the legal cause
therefore shall be specified. With regard to the reasons for the disinheritance that were stated by
Segundo in his document, the Court believes that the incidents, taken as a whole, can be
considered a form of maltreatment of Segundo by his son, Alfredo and that the matter presents a
sufficient cause for the disinheritance of a child or descendant under Article 919 of the Civil Code.
Wills and Succession 54
Case Digest

In view of the foregoing, the trial court, therefore, should have allowed the holographic will to
be probated, it is settled that testate proceedings for the settlement of the estate of the decedent
to take precedence over intestate proceedings for the same purpose.
Wills and Succession 55
Case Digest

Spouses Ernesto and Evelyn SICAD, petitioners, vs.


COURT OF APPEALS, Catalino VALDERAMA, et al., respondents.
G.R. No. 125888, August 13, 1998

FACTS:

Aurora Montinola executed a “Deed of Donation Inter Vivos” in favor of her grandchildren who are
the private respondents herein. The deed contained the signatures of the donees in
acknowledgment of their acceptance of the donation. Afterwards, Montinola’s secretary presented
the deed for recording in the Property Registry and the Register of Deeds cancelled TCT No. T-
16105 (the donor’s title) and, in its place, issued TCT No. T-16622 in the name of the donees.
However, Montinola retained the owner’s duplicate copy of the new title as well as the property
itself, until she transferred the same ten (10) years after her death. Montinola later then drew up a
deed of revocation and caused it to be annotated as an adverse claim on TCT No. T-16622
followed by filing a petition for cancellation of said TCT and the reinstatement of TCT No. T-
16105. Her petition was granted on the ground that the donation was one mortis causa which
thus had to comply with the formalities of a will, since it had not, the donation was void and could
not effectively serve as basis for the cancellation of TCT No. T-16105 and the issuance in its
place of TCT No. T-16622. The donees opposed the petition averring that the donation was one
inter vivos which, having fully complied with the requirements therefor set out in Article 729 of the
Civil Code, was perfectly valid and efficacious. The trial court decided that the donation was
indeed one inter vivos and dismissed Montinola’s petition for lack of merit. The matter of its
recovation was not passed upon. While appeal was pending before the CA, Montinola died and
shortly thereafter, the spouses Sicad filed a Manifestation and Motion alleging that they had
become the owners of the property covered by TCT No. T-16622 in virtue of a “deed of definite
sale” and prayed that they be substituted as appellants and allowed to prosecute the case in their
own behalf. Another motion was presented by the legal heirs of Montinoal declaring that they
were not interested in pursuing the case and asked that the appeal be withdrawn however
Montinola’s counsel opposed the motion. CA issued a resolution ordering the legal heirs as well
as spouses Sicad as appellants and denied the motion for withdrawal of the appeal. However, the
eight division of CA denied the separate motions for reconsideration filed by Montinola’s legal
heirs and the spouses Sicad. Hence, this action.

ISSUE:

Whether the donation is one mortis causa or inter vivos.

RULING:

The real nature of a deed is to be ascertained by both its language and the intention of the
parties as demonstrated by the circumstances attendant upon its execution. A donation which
purports to be one inter vivos but withholds from the done the right to dispose of the donated
property during the donor’s lifetime is in truth one mortis causa. In a donation mortis causa the
right of disposition is not transferred to the done while the donor is still alive.

In the instant case, nothing of any consequence was transferred by the deed of donation in
question to Montinola’s grandchildren; the ostensible donees. They did not get poseession of the
property donated. They did not acquire the right to the fruits thereof, or any other right of
dominion over the property. More importantly, they did not acquire the right to dispose of the
property – this would accrue to them only after ten (10) years from Montinola’s death. Indeed,
they never even laid hands on the certificate of title to the same. They were therefore simply
“paper owners” of the donated property. All these circumstances, including, to repeat, the explicit
provisions of the deed of donation – reserving the exercise of rights of ownership to the done and
Wills and Succession 56
Case Digest

prohibiting the sale or encumbrance of the property until ten (10) after her death – ineluctably
lead to the conclusion that the donation in question was a donation mortis causa, contemplating a
transfer of ownership to the donees only after the donor’s demise.
Wills and Succession 57
Case Digest

Constancio SIENES, et al., plaintiffs-appellants, vs.


Fidel ESPARCIA, defendants-appellees.
G.R. No. L-12597, March 24, 1961

FACTS:

Lot 3368 originally belonged to Saturnino Yaeso. With his first wife, Teresa Ruales, he had
four children named Agaton, Fernando, Paulina and Cipriana, while with his second wife, Andrea
Gutang, he had an only son named Francisco. According to the cadastral records of Ayuquitan,
the properties left by Saturnino upon his death were left to his children as follows: Lot 3366 to
Cipriana, Lot 3367 to Fernando, Lot 3375 to Agaton, Lot 3377 (southern portion) to Paulina, and
Lot 3368 (western portion) to Francisco. As a result of the cadastral proceedings, an OCT
covering Lot 3368 was issued in the name of Francisco.

Because Francisco was a minor at the time, his mother administered the property for him,
declared it in her name for taxation purposes, and paid the taxes due thereon. When Francisco
died at the age of 20, single and without any descendant, his mother, as his sole heir, executed
the public instrument and sold the property in question to appellants in consideration of the sum
of P800.00. Andrea Gutang died on December 13, 1951, the lone reservee surviving her being
Cipriana Yaeso who died only on January 13, 1952. Said vendees demanded from Paulina and
her husband, the surrender of the OCT which was in their possession, the latter refused, thus
giving rise to the filing of the corresponding motion in the cadastral, which was denied.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the reservable property in question is part of and must be reverted to the
estate of Cipriana Yaeso.

RULING:

As held by the trial court, it is clear upon the facts already stated, that the land in question
was reservable property.

In connection with reservable property, the weight of opinion is that the reserve creates two
resolutory conditions, namely, (1) the death of the ascendant obliged to reserve and (2) the
survival, at the time of his death, of relatives within the third degree belonging to the line from
which the property came. This Court has held in connection with this matter that the reservista
has the legal title and dominion to the reservable property but subject to a resolutory condition;
that he is like a life usufructuary of the reservable property; that he may alienate the same but
subject to reservation, said alienation transmitting only the revocable and conditional ownership
of the reservists, the rights acquired by the transferee being revoked or resolved by the survival of
reservatarios at the time of the death of the reservista.

The sale made by Andrea Gutang in favor of appellees was, therefore, subject to the
condition that the vendees would definitely acquire ownership, by virtue of the alienation, only if
the vendor died without being survived by any person entitled to the reservable property.
Inasmuch much as when Andrea Gutang died, Cipriana Yaeso was still alive, the conclusion
becomes inescapable that the previous sale made by the former in favor of appellants became of
no legal effect and the reservable property subject matter thereof passed in exclusive ownership
to Cipriana.

On the other hand, it is also clear that the sale executed by the sisters Paulina and Cipriana
Yaeso in favor of the spouses Fidel Esparcia and Paulina Sienes was subject to a similar
Wills and Succession 58
Case Digest

resolutory condition. The reserve instituted by law in favor of the heirs within the third degree
belonging to the line from which the reservable property came, constitutes a real right which the
reservee may alienate and dispose of, albeit conditionally, the condition being that the alienation
shall transfer ownership to the vendee only if and when the reservee survives the person obliged
to reserve. In the present case, Cipriana Yaeso, one of the reservees, was still alive when Andrea
Gutang, the person obliged to reserve, died. Thus the former became the absolute owner of the
reservable property upon Andrea's death. While it may be true that the sale made by her and her
sister prior to this event, became effective because of the occurrence of the resolutory condition,
we are not now in a position to reverse the appealed decision, in so far as it orders the reversion
of the property in question to the Estate of Cipriana Yaeso, because the vendees did not appeal
therefrom.
Wills and Succession 59
Case Digest

Nenita de Vera SUROZA, complainant, vs.


Judge Reynaldo P. HONRADO and Evangeline YUIPCO, respondents.
A.M. No. 2026-CFI, December 19, 1981

FACTS:

Mauro Suroza, a corporal in the 45 th Infantry of the US Army (Philippine Scouts) married
Marcelina Salvador but they were childless. However, they reared a boy named Agapito who
used the surname Suroza and who considred them as parents as shown in his marriage contract
with Nenita de Vera. When Mauro died, Marcelina, as a veteran’s widow, became a pensioner of
the Federal Government. Agapito and Nenita begot a child named Lilia and afterwards, Agapito
also became a soldier. However, he was disabled and his wife was appointed as his guardian
when he was declared an incompetent. In connection to this, a woman named Arsenia de la Cruz
(apparently a girlfriend of Agapito) wanted also to be his guardian however the court confirmed
Nenita’s appointment as guardian of Agapito.

The spouses Antonio Sy and Hermogena Talan begot a child named Marilyn Sy, who was
delivered to Marcelina Salvador Suroza who brought her up as a supposed daughter of Agapito
and as her granddaughter. Marilyn used the surname Suroza and stayed with Marcelina but was
not legally adopted by Agapito.

Marcelina, being a veteran’s widow accumulated some cash in two banks. She executed a
notarial will which is in English and was thumbmarked by her for she was illiterate. In that will,
Marcelina bequeathed all her estate to Marilyn. After her death, Marina Paje (alleged to be a
laundrywoman of Marcelina and the executrix in her will) filed a petition for probate of Marcelina’s
alleged will. As there was no opposition, Judge Honrado appointed Marina as administratix and
subsequently, issued two order directing the two banks to allow Marina to withdraw from the
savings of Marcelina and Marilyn Suroza and requiring the custodian of the passbooks to deliver
them to Marina. Upon motion of Marina, Judge Honrado issued another order instructing the
sheriff to eject the occupants of the testatrix’ house among whom was Nenita and to place Marina
in possession thereof. Nenita was then alerted to the existence of the testamentary proceeding
hence, she and other occupants filed a motion to set aside the order ejecting them, alleging that
the decedent’s son Agapito was the sole heir of the deceased; that he has a daughter named
Lilia; that Nenita was Agapito’s guardian; and that Marilyn was not Agapito’s daughter nor the
decedent’s granddaughter. Later, they questioned the probate court’s jurisdiction to issue the
ejectment order. In spite of such fact, Judge Honrado issued on order probating Marcelina’s
supposed will wherein Marilyn was the instituted heiress. Nenita filed in the testate case an
omnibus petition “to set aside proceedings, admit opposition with counter petition for
administration and preliminary injunction” reiterating that Marilyn was a stranger to Marcelina; that
the will was not duly executed and attested; and that the thumbmarks of the testatrix were
procured by fraud or trick. Further, that the institution of Marilyn as heir is void because of the
preterition of Agapito and that Marina was not qualified to act as executrix. Not contented with her
motions, Nenita filed an opposition to the probate of the will and a counter-petition which was
however, dismissed. Instead of appealing, Nenita filed a case to annul the probate proceedings
which was also dismissed. Hence, this complaint.

ISSUE:

Whether or not a disciplinary action should be taken against respondent judge for having
admitted a will, which on its face is void.

RULING:
Wills and Succession 60
Case Digest

Disciplinary action should be taken against respondent judge for his improper disposition of
the testate case which might have resulted in a miscarriage of justice because the decedent’s
legal heirs and not the instituted heiress in the void will should have inherited the decedent’s
estate. Inefficiency implies negligence, incompetence, ignorance and carelessness. A judge
would be inexcusably negligent if he failed in the performance of his duties that diligence,
prudence and circumspection which the law requires in the rendition of any public service.

In this case, respondent judge, on perusing the will and noting that it was written in English
and was thumbmarked by an obviously illiterate testatrix, could have readily perceived that the
will is void.
Wills and Succession 61
Case Digest

In the Matter of the Petition for Probate of the Will of Dorotea Perez,
Apolonio TABOADA, petitioner, vs.
Hon. Avelino S. ROSAL,Judge of Court of First Instance
of Southern Leyte (Branch III, Maasin) respondent.
G.R. No. L-36033, November 5, 1982

FACTS:

In the petition for probate filed with respondent court, Taboada attached the alleged last will
and testament of the late Dorotea Perez which was written in the Cebuano-Visayan dialect and
consisting two pages: the first page contains the entire testamentary dispositions and is signed at
the bottom of the page by the testatrix alone and at the left hand margin by three (3) instrumental
witnesses; and the second page contains the attestation clause and the acknowledgment is
signed at the end of such clause by the said instrumental witnesses and at the left hand margin
by the testatrix. The trial court, through Judge Pamatian, denied the probate of the will for want of
formality in its execution and ordered Taboada to submit the names of the intestate heirs,
however, the latter did not comply with the said order. Instead, he filed a manifestation and/or
motion ex parte praying for a thirty-day period within which to deliberate on any step to be taken
as a result of the disallowance of the will and further, he filed a motion for reconsideration of the
order denying the probate of the will. However, the motions could not acted upon by Judge
Pamatian due to his transfer and thus, Judge Rosal assumed the position. Meanwhile, Taboada
filed a motion for the appointment of special administrator. Subsequently, the three motions filed
by the petitioner were denied, hence this present petition.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the law requires that the testatrix and all the three instrumental and attesting
witnesses sign at the end of the will and in the presence of the testatrix and of one another.

RULING:

Article 805. Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the
end thereof by the testator himself or by the testator’s name written by some
other person in his presence, and by his express direction, and attested and
subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator
and of one another.

The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the
instrumental witnesses of the will, shall also sign, as aforesaid, each and every
page thereof, except the last, on the left margin, and all the pages shall be
numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page.

The attestation shall state the number of pages used upon which the will is
written, and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page thereof, or
cause some other person to write his name, under his express direction, in the
presence of the instrumental witnesses and that the latter witnessed and signed
the will and the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another.

Insofar as the requirement of subscription is concerned, it is our considered view that the will
in this case was subscribed in a manner which fully satisfies the purpose of identification. The
signatures of the instrumental witnesses on the left margin of the first page of the will attested not
only to the genuineness of the signature of the testatrix but also the due execution of the will as
embodied in the attestation clause.
Wills and Succession 62
Case Digest

The objects of attestation and of subscription were fully met and satisfied in the present case
when the instrumental witnesses signed at the left margin of the sole page which contains all the
testamentary dispositions, especially so when the will was properly identified by the subscribing
witnesses. There was no question of fraud or substitution behind the questioned order.
Wills and Succession 63
Case Digest

Eufracia VDA. DE CRISOLOGO, et al., petitioners, vs.


COURT OF APPEALS, et al., respondents.
G.R. No. L-44051, June 27, 1985

FACTS:

Julia Capiao had an extra-marital affair with Victoriano Taccad, with one child and/or forced
heir, named Lutgarda Capiao, who then married Raymundo Zipagan. Raymundo and Lutgarda
were childless. Raymundo and Lutgarda died, the latter leaving no will. The plaintiffs herein
(relatives within the fifth degree) were consequently instituted as Lutgarda’s legal heirs to inherit
all the properties which were hers by virtue of the extra-judicial partition.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the relatives of Julia may inherit from her illegitimate child Lutgarda.

RULING:

Relatives on the legitimate line, has to right to inherit from an illegitimate daughter.It is clear
from the records that the petitioners cannot inherit the properties in question because of Article
992 of the Civil Code. Being relatives on the legitimate line of Julia Capiao, they cannot inherit
from her illegitimate daughter. Their relative Julia Capiao predeceased the daughter, Lutgarda.
Wills and Succession 64
Case Digest

Rosario Feliciano VDA. DE RAMOS, et al., petitioners, vs.


COURT OF APPEALS, Marcelina (Martina) GUERRA, et al., respondents.
G.R. No. L-40804, January 31, 1978

FACTS:

Adelaida Nista claimed to be one of the instituted heirs, filed a petition for the probate of the
alleged will and testament as well as codicil of the late Eugenia Danila. Adelaida prayed that after
due notice and hearing, the alleged will and codicil be probated and that she or any other person
be appointed as administrator of the estate. Buenaventura and Marcelina, both surnamed Guerra,
filed an opposition alleging among others that they are legally adopted children of the late
spouses Florentino Guerra and Eugenia Danila; that the purported will and codicil were procured
through fraud and undue influence; that the formalities required by law for the execution of a will
and codicil have not been complied with; that the late Eugenia Danila had already executed her
last will and testament was duly probated and not revoked or annulled during her lifetime; and
that Adelaida is not competent and qualified to act as administration of the estate. Afterwards, the
parties entered into a compromise agreement which was approved by the lower court. The
petitioners herein filed a motion for leave to intervene as co-petitioners and filed a reply partly
admitting and denying the material allegations in the opposition to the petition and alleging among
other things, that oppositors repudiated their institution as heirs and executors because they
failed to cause the recording in the Register of Deeds the will and testament in accordance with
the Rules and committed acts of ingratitude when they abandoned the testatrix and denied her
support. Subsequently, the intervenors (petitioners herein) also filed a motion for new trial and/or
re-hearing and/or relief from judgment and to set aside the judgment based on the compromise
agreement and consequently, the oppositors interposed an opposition to the motion to which the
intervenors filed their reply. The lower court allowed and admitted to intervene the petitioners
herein, the compromise agreement was disapproved except as regards to their lawful rights, and
the original petition and amended opposition to probate of the alleged will and codicil stand. The
lower court also denied the motion for the appointment of a special administrator filed by the
intervenors. The latter filed a motion for reconsideration but was denied. The lower court then
allowed the probate of the will although two of the instrumental witnesses testified that they did
not see the testatrix sign the will. The oppositors herein appealed to the Court of Appeals set
aside the order of allowing the probate. Hence, this present action.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the last will and testament and its accompanying codicil were executed in
accordance with the formalities of the law considering the complicated circumstances that two (2)
of the attesting witnesses testified against their due execution while other non-subscribing
witnesses testified to the contrary.

RULING:

There is ample and satisfactory evidence to convince the Supreme Court that the will and
codicil were executed in accordance with the formalities required by law. It appears positively and
convincingly that the documents were prepared by a lawyer and the execution of the same was
evidently supervised by his associate and before whom the deeds were also acknowledged. The
solemnity surrounding the execution of a will is attended by some intricacies not usually within the
comprehension of an ordinary layman. The object is to close the door against bad faith and fraud,
to avoid substitution of the will and testament, and to guarantee their truth and authenticity. If
there should be any stress on the participation of lawyers in the execution of a will, other than an
interested party, it cannot be less than the exercise of their primary duty as members of the Bar to
uphold the lofty purpose of the law. There is no showing that the lawyers who participated in the
Wills and Succession 65
Case Digest

execution of the will had been remiss in their sworn duty. Consequently, the Court of Appeals
failed to consider the presumption of regularity on the questioned documents. There were no
incidents brought to the attention of the trial court to arouse suspicion of anomaly. While the
opposition alleged fraud and undue influence, no evidence was presented to prove their
occurrence. There is no question that each and every page of the will and codicil carry the
authentic signatures of Eugenia Danila and the three (3) attesting witnesses. Similarly, the
attestation claim far from being deficient were properly signed by the attesting witnesses. Neither
it is disputed that these witnesses took turns in signing the will and codicil in the presence of each
and the testatrix. Both instruments were duly acknowledged before a Notary Public who was all
the time present during the execution.
Wills and Succession 66
Case Digest

Lauro G. VIZCONDE, petitioner, vs.


COURT OF APPEALS, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, Branch 120, Caloocan City
and Ramon G. NICOLAS, respondents.
G.R. No. 118449, February 11, 1998

FACTS:

Spouses Lauro Vizconde and Estrellita Nicolas had two children namely, Carmela and
Jennifer. Estrellita is one of the five children of spouses Rafael Nicolas and Salud Gonzales. The
private respondent herein is a brother of Estrellita.

Estrellita purchased from Rafael a parcel of land which was afterwards sold to Amelia Lim
and Natividad Chiu. Estrellita purchased again from Premier Homes a parcel of land with
improvements. Thereafter, an unfortunate event happened when Estrellita and her daughters
were killed. Consequently, Lauro entered into an “Extra-Judicial Settlement of the Estate of
Deceased Estrellita Nicolas-Vizconde with Waiver of Shares” with his wife’s parents. The
settlement gave fifty percent (50%) of the total amount of the bank deposits of Estrellita and her
daughters to Rafael and the other fifty percent (50%) to Lauro. The car and the property were
given to Lauro and to Estrellita’s parents but the latter waived all their claims, rights, ownership
and participation as heirs in the said properties. Not long after, Rafael died and to settle his
estate, Teresita (one of his children) instituted an instestate estate proceeding and prayed to be
appointed Special Administratix of Rafael’s estate. Further, she sought to be appointed as Salud
and Ricardo’s guardian of which Ramon filed an opposition. Private respondent filed another
opposition alleging that Estrellita was given the Valuenzela property and subsequently, he filed his
own petition averring that the legitime of Salud and Ricardo should come from the collation of all
the properties distributed to his children by Rafael during his lifetime. Ramon stated that Lauro is
one of Rafael’s children by right of representation as the widower of the deceased legitimate
daughter, Estrellita. In a consolidated order, RTC appointed Ramon as the guardian of Salud and
Ricardo while Teresita was appointed as the Special Administratix of Rafael’s estate however,
Ramon was afterwards removed as guardian for selling his wards’ property without the court’s
knowledge and permission.

RTC then ordered Lauro to file any appropriate petition or motion related to the pending
petition insofar as the case is concerned and to file any opposition to any pending motion that has
been filed by Ramon and Teresita. Lauro fied a Manifestation stressing that he was neither a
compulsory heir nor an intestate heir of Rafael and he has no interest to participate in the
proceedings. However, despite this manifestation, Ramon moved to include Lauro in the intestate
estate proceeding and asked that the Parañaque property, the car and the balance of the
proceeds of the sale of the Valenzuela property be collated, which the trial court granted. Lauro
filed a motion for reconsideration but was denied. Lauro filed a petition for certiorari and
prohibition before the Court of Appeals but the same was denied. Hence, this action.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the Parañaque property is subject to collation.

RULING:

Basic principles of collation:

Article 1061. Every compulsory heir, who succeeds with other compulsory heirs,
must bring into the mass of the estate any property or right which he may have
received from the decedent, during the lifetime of the latter, by way of donation,
Wills and Succession 67
Case Digest

or any other gratuitous title, in order that it may be computed in the determination
of the legitime of each heir, and in the account of the partition.

Collation is the act by virtue of which descendants or other forced heirs who intervene in the
division of the inheritance of an ascendant bring into the common mass the property which they
received from him, so that the division may be made according to law and the will of the testator.
Collation is only required of compulsory heirs succeeding with other compulsory heirs and
involves property or rights received by donation or gratuitous title during the lifetime of the
decedent.

The attendant facts herein do not make a case of collation: 1) The probate court erred in
ordering the inclusion of petitioner in the intestate estate proceeding. Petitioner, a son-in-law of
Rafael, is not one of the latter’s compulsory heirs; 2) As a rule, the probate court may pass upon
and determine the title or ownership of a property which may or may not be included in the estate
proceedings. Such determination is provisional in character and is subject to final decision in a
separate action to resolve title. In the case at bench, however, we note that the probate court
went beyond the scope of its jurisdiction when it proceeded to determine the validity of the sale of
the Valenzuela property between Rafael and Estrellita and ruled that the transfer between the
concerned parties was gratuitous. The interpretation of the deed and the true intent of the
contracting parties, as well as the presence or absence of consideration, are matters outside the
probate court’s jurisdiction; 3) The order of the probate court subjecting the Parañaque property
to collation is premature. Records indicate that the intestate estate proceedings is still in its
initiatory stage; 4) Even on the assumption that collation is appropriate in this case, the probate
court, nonetheless, made a reversible error in ordering collation of the Parañaque property. We
note that what was transferred to Estrellita by way of deed of sale, is the Valenzuela property. The
Parañaque property which Estrellita acquired by using the proceeds of the sale of the Valenzuela
property does not become collationable simply by reason thereof. Indeed, collation of the
Parañaque property has no statutory basis; and 5) it is futile for the probate court to ascertain
whether or not Valenzuela property may be brought to collation. It should be stressed that
Estrellita died ahead of Rafael.