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Danilo ALUAD, et al., petitioners vs. Zenaido ALUAD, respondent G.R. No.

176943, October 17, 2008

FACTS: Petitioners 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death of the Donor, but in the event that the Donee should die before the Donor, the present donation shall be deemed rescinded.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 Matildes death. Thereafter, Marias 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 petitioners Motion for Reconsideration, the present Pe tition 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 (petitioners 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 petitioners mother during the formers lifetime. Further the statement, anytime during the lifetime of the DONOR or anyone of th em who should survive, they could 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 petitioners 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.