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WILLS AND SUCCESSION DIGESTS (16-30) SECTION 4D (2016 -2017) Vice Dean Marciano Delson

16. LABRADOR vs. COURT OF APPEALS G.R No. 83843-44; April 5, 1990 PARAS, J.

FACTS: Melecio Labrador died with a holographic will leaving a parcel of land and several heirs. During the probate of the will, some of the heirs (Gaudencio and Jesus) filed an opposition stating that the will has been revoked by implication since before the testator’s death, he had already sold the parcel of land to the heir-oppositors who in turn sold the same to a third person. One of the other heirs, Sagrado, then filed a petition against his brothers to annul the Deed of Absolute Sale stating that the property in question was already his by virtue of a devise under the holographic will which was executed on March 17, 1968, years before the same property was allegedly sold to the heir-oppositors.

The holographic will of the deceased was written in Ilocano and was allegedly undated since the date was mentioned in the first paragraph of the will and that the date referred to the “partitioning and assigning of a fishpond” and not the date of the execution of the will. Therefore, what was signed was not a will but rather, a mere agreement, which was allegedly done to the prejudice of the other heirs

ISSUE: Is a holographic will considered dated within the purview of Art 810 of the Civil Code when the date appears in the middle of the paragraph of the alleged will?

RULING: Yes, the law does not specify a particular location where the date should be placed in a will.

The Supreme Court ruled that the law only requires that the will be dated and executed in the hand of the testator. Furthermore, the fact that the words of the testator provided for “partitioning and assigning the said fishpond” does not mean that what was executed was not a will. In fact, the tenor of the words used by the testator shows his unilateral act of executing a will and partitioning his estate.

Hence, the holographic will executed by Labrador is valid, making Sagrado lawfully entitled to possession of the property in question.

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17. SEANGIO v. REYES

G.R. Nos. 140371-72 AZCUNA, J.:

November 27, 2006

FACTS: Private respondents Alfredo Seangio et. al filed for the settlement of the intestate estate of the late Segundo Seangio.

Petitioners opposed said petition, contending that Segundo left

a holographic will disinheriting Alfredo due to the latter’s maltreatment of his father Segundo. In view of the purported holographic will, petitioners averred that in the event the decedent is found to have

a will, the intestate proceedings are to be automatically suspended

and replaced by the proceedings of the will. Private respondents moved for the dismissal of the probate proceedings contending that the alleged will of Segundo does not contain any disposition of the estate of the deceased and that all other compulsory heirs were not named nor instituted as heir, devisee or legatee, hence there is preterition which would result to intestacy. Petitioners countered that the rule on preterition does not apply because Segundo’s will does not constitute a universal heir or heirs to the exclusion of one or more compulsory heirs. They argued that the testator intended all his compulsory heirs, petitioners and private respondents alike, with the sole exception of Alfredo, to inherit his estate.

ISSUE: Was there preterition present in this case?

HELD:

There was no pretierition in this case. The Supreme Court held that, Segundo’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 Segundo 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. Moreover, it is a fundamental principle that the intent or the will of the testator, expressed in the form and within the limits prescribed by law, must be recognized as the supreme law in

WILLS AND SUCCESSION DIGESTS (16-30) SECTION 4D (2016 -2017) Vice Dean Marciano Delson

succession. All rules of construction are designed to ascertain and give effect to that intention. It is only when the intention of the testator is contrary to law, morals, or public policy that it cannot be given effect. Holographic wills, therefore, being usually prepared by one who is not learned in the law, as illustrated in the present case, should be construed more liberally than the ones drawn by an expert, taking into account the circumstances surrounding the execution of the instrument and the intention of the testator. In this regard, the Court is convinced that the document, even if captioned as Kasulatan ng Pag-Aalis ng Mana, was intended by Segundo to be his last testamentary act and was executed by him in accordance with law in the form of a holographic will. Unless the will is probated, the disinheritance cannot be given effect. With regard to the issue on preterition, the Court believes that the compulsory heirs in the direct line were not preterited in the will. It was, in the Court’s opinion, Segundo’s last expression to bequeath his estate to all his compulsory heirs, with the sole exception of Alfredo. Also, Segundo did not institute an heir to the exclusion of his other compulsory heirs. The mere mention of the name of one of the petitioners, Virginia, in the document did not operate to institute her as the universal heir. Her name was included plainly as a witness to the altercation between Segundo and his son, Alfredo.1âwphi1Considering that the questioned document is Segundo’s holographic will, and that the law favors testacy over intestacy, the probate of the will cannot be dispensed with.

18. Capitle vs. Elbambuena G.R. No. 169193 November 30, 2006 Carpio Morales, J.

FACTS:

Cristobal Olar possessed a Certificate of Land Ownership Award covering a parcel of land. Consequently, a TCT in his name was issued. When Cristobal died, respondents Fortunata Elbambuena, the wife of Cristobal and Rosalinda Olar, daughter-in law of the deceased claimed that Olar relinquished one-half of the lot in favour of Rosalinda which was witnessed by petitioner Cirilo Capitle and the remaining portion of land was surrendered to Fortunata.

Respondents alleged that petitioners were allowed to occupy the lot to pursue a means of livelihood. Since 1990, however, petitioners did not pay rentals despite demand and neither did they heed the demand to return the

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possession of the lot, forcing respondents to file a Petition for Recovery of Possession and Payment of Back Rentals against petitioners.

On the contrary, petitioners claimed that they have been in possession of the lot since 1960 and presented a "Waiver of Rights" executed by Olar wherein he renounced in their favor his rights and participation over the lot. Petitioners further claim that respondent Fortunata was already separated from Olar and she even remarried, thus giving her no right to inherit from Olar.

While Elbambuena and Olar‘s petition was pending before the Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (PARAD), petitioners Capitle filed before the Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer (MARO) a petition for cancellation of the CLOA issued to Olar, on the ground that they are the new farmer- beneficiaries. PARAD ruled in favor of petitioners Capitle. Elbambuena and Olar appealed the decision to the Department of Agrarian Reform Ajudication Board. The DARAB set aside PARAD‘s decision stating that Cristobal Olar’s death substantially passed all his rights and interest in and over the subject property to his legal heirs by operation of law. This is as it should, considering that rights to the succession are transmitted from the moment of death of the decedent. The case was then elevated to the Court of Appeals which affirmed the decision of DARAB.

Petitioners concede that although Olar’s death passed all his rights and interest over the lot to his legal heirs, his intent of not bequeathing them to his estranged wife but to a relative, who helped him in tilling the lot and who took care of him, should be accorded respect over the intent of the law on hereditary succession.

ISSUE: Does an estranged wife have the right to inherit from her deceased husband?

HELD: Yes. Although estranged from Olar, respondent Fortunata remained his wife and legal heir, mere estrangement not being a legal ground for the disqualification of a surviving spouse as an heir of the deceased spouse. Rosalinda, on the other hand, is the surviving spouse of Olar’s son.

19. PEOPLE v. UMALI G.R. No. 84450, February 4, 1991

WILLS AND SUCCESSION DIGESTS (16-30) SECTION 4D (2016 -2017) Vice Dean Marciano Delson

Medialdea, J.

facing several criminal charges when he testified did not in any way

20. PAZ SAMANIEGO-CELADA vs LUCIA D. ABENA

FACTS:

disqualify him as a witness. The testimony of a witness should be given full faith and credit, in the

Francisco Manalo (Manalo), who was a detention prisoner in Tiaong Municipal Jail, served as a poseur buyer of marijuana for the Tiaong Police Department. Manalo was instructed to purchase from sources known to him. He was given marked money to be used for the purchase. Manalo was able to purchase two (2) marijuana foils from defendant appellant Gloria Umali (Gloria). Through an affidavit and the two (2) marijuana foils, the police was able to secure a search warrant against Gloria. Gloria’s residence was searched and illegal drugs were seized along with the marked money which

absence of evidence that he was actuated by improper motive (People v. Melgar, G.R. No. 75268,29 January 1988, 157 SCRA 718). Hence, in the absence of any evidence that witness Francisco Manalo was actuated by improper motive, his testimony must be accorded full credence.

G.R. No. 145545, 30 June 2008 QUISUMBING, J.

was previously used by Manalo in purchasing the two (2) marijuana foils from Gloria.

FACTS:

Defendants-appellants Gloria Umali and Suzeth Umali were charged for violation of Sec. 4, Art.1 of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972. After trial, finds accused Gloria guilty beyond reasonable doubt, while her co-accused Suzeth Umali remained at large. Gloria interposed the defense, among others, that the trial court erred in giving credence to the testimony of Manalo. She alleged that Manalo is not reputed to be trustworthy and reliable and that his words should not be taken on its face value. Furthermore, she stressed that said witness has several charges in court and because of his desire to have some of his cases dismissed, he was likely to tell falsehood. ISSUE: Does the prohibition of Art. 821 of the Civil Code apply to Manalo and thus disqualifying him to be a witness? HELD: No. Rule 130, Section 20 of the Revised Rules of Court provides that:

Petitioner, Paz Samaniego-Celada was the first cousin of decedent Margarita S. Mayores while Respondent, Lucia D. Abena was the decedent’s lifelong companion since 1929. On April 27, 1987, Margarita died single and without any ascending nor descending heirs as her parents, grandparents and siblings predeceased her. She was survived by her first cousins, which included Petitioner. Before her death, Margarita executed a Last Will and Testament and left all her personal properties to Lucia D. Abena whom she likewise designated as sole executor of her will. Petitioner filed a petition for letters of administration of the estate of Margarita before the RTC of Makati. The RTC rendered a decision declaring the last will and testament of Margarita probated and respondent as the executor of the will. Petitioner appealed the RTC decision to the CA. The CA affirmed in toto the RTC ruling.

Except as provided in the next succeeding section, all persons who can perceive, and perceiving can make known their perception to

ISSUE:

others may be witnesses. Religious or political belief, interest in the outcome of the case, or

Does the inclusion of the attestation in the number of pages of a notarial will render the will, defective?

conviction of a crime unless otherwise provided by law, shall not be a ground for disqualification.

RULING:

The phrase "conviction of a crime unless otherwise provided by law"

NO. There is substantial compliance with the formalities prescribed by law.

takes into account Art. 821 of the Civil Code which states that “persons convicted of falsification of a document, perjury or false testimony are disqualified from being witnesses to a will" (Paras, RULES OF COURT ANNOTATED, Vol. IV First Ed., p. 44). Since the witness Manalo is not convicted of any of the above- mentioned crimes to disqualify him as a witness and this case does not involve the probate of a will, the Court rules that the fact that said witness is

The position of the court is in consonance with the doctrine of liberal interpretation enunciated in Article 809 of the Civil Code which reads: In the absence of bad faith, forgery or fraud, or undue [and] improper pressure and influence, defects and imperfections in the form of attestation or in the language used therein shall not render the will invalid if it is proved that the

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WILLS AND SUCCESSION DIGESTS (16-30) SECTION 4D (2016 -2017) Vice Dean Marciano Delson

will was in fact executed and attested in substantial compliance with all the requirements of Article 805.

Anent the contestants submission that the will is fatally defective for the reason that its attestation clause states that the will is composed of three (3) pages while in truth and in fact, the will consists of two (2) pages only because the attestation is not a part of the notarial will, the same is not accurate. While it is true that the attestation clause is not a part of the will, the court, after examining the totality of the will, is of the considered opinion that error in the number of pages of the will as stated in the attestation clause is not material to invalidate the subject will. It must be noted that the subject instrument is consecutively lettered with pages A, B, and C which is a sufficient safeguard from the possibility of an omission of some of the pages. The error must have been brought about by the honest belief that the will is the whole instrument consisting of three (3) pages inclusive of the attestation clause and the acknowledgement.

21. IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION TO APPROVE THE WILL OF RICARDO B. BONILLA deceased, MARCELA RODELAS vs AMPARO ARANZA, ET AL. G.R. No. L-58509, December 7, 1982 Relova, J.

Facts:

Petitioner filed a petition for the probate of the holographic will of Ricardo B. Bonilla and the issuance of letters testamentary in her favor. A photostatic copy of the will was presented in court. The petition was opposed by respondents alleging among others that lost or destroyed holographic wills cannot be proved by secondary evidence unlike ordinary wills.

The lower court denied the motion to dismiss the probate of the will filed by respondents.

Issue:

Can a holographic will which was lost or cannot be found be proved by means of a photostatic copy?

Held:

Yes. A holographic will which was lost or cannot be found can be proved by means of a photostatic copy.

As a rule, if the holographic will has been lost or destroyed and no other copy is available, the will can not be probated because the best and only evidence is the handwriting of the testator in said will. It is necessary that there be a comparison between sample handwritten statements of the testator and the handwritten will. However, a photostatic copy or xerox copy of the holographic will may be allowed because comparison can be made with the standard writings of the testator. Evidently, the photostatic or xerox copy of the lost or destroyed holographic will may be admitted because then the authenticity of the handwriting of the deceased can be determined by the probate court.

Hence, a holographic will which was lost or cannot be found can be proved by means of a photostatic copy.

22. SPOUSES ROBERTO AND THELMA AJERO v. COURT OF APPEALS GR No. 106720 September 15, 1994 Puno, J.

Facts:

Spouses Ajero instituted a special proceeding for allowance of the holographic will of late Annie Sand who died on November 25, 1982. In the will, spouses Ajero together with private respondents one Clemente Sand and others were named as devisees. Private respondents however opposed the petition on the grounds that: neither the testament's body nor the signature therein was in decedent's handwriting; it contained alterations and corrections which were not duly signed by decedent; and, the will was procured by petitioners through improper pressure and undue influence.

Issue:

Should the holographic will be disallowed for failure to comply with the formalities prescribed by law?

Ruling:

No. In a petition to admit a holographic will to probate, the only issues to be resolved are: (1) whether the instrument submitted is, indeed, the decedent's last will and testament; (2) whether said will was executed in accordance with

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WILLS AND SUCCESSION DIGESTS (16-30) SECTION 4D (2016 -2017) Vice Dean Marciano Delson

the formalities prescribed by law; (3) whether the decedent had the necessary testamentary capacity at the time the will was executed; and, (4) whether the execution of the will and its signing were the voluntary acts of the decedents.

In the case of holographic wills, what assures authenticity is the requirement that they be totally autographic or handwritten by the testator himself, as provided under Article 810 of the New Civil Code, thus:

"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."

Failure to strictly observe other formalities will not result in the disallowance of a holographic will that is unquestionably handwritten by the testator.

23. NEPOMUCENO v. CA GR No. L-62952; October 9, 1985 Gutierrez Jr., J.

FACTS:

In the will of Martin Hugo, the testator named and appointed herein petitioner Sofia J. Nepomuceno as his sole and only executor of his estate. It is clearly stated in the Will that the testator was legally married to a certain Rufina Gomez by whom he had two legitimate children, Oscar and Carmelita, but since 1952, he had been estranged from his lawfully wedded wife and had been living with petitioner as husband and wife. In fact, on December 5, 1952, the testator Martin Jugo and the petitioner herein, Sofia J. Nepomuceno were married in Victoria, Tarlac before the Justice of the Peace. The testator devised to his forced heirs, namely, his legal wife Rufina Gomez and his children Oscar and Carmelita his entire estate and the free portion thereof to herein petitioner. On August 21, 1974, the petitioner filed a petition for the probate of the last Will and Testament of the deceased Martin Jugo and asked for the issuance to her of letters testamentary. On May 13, 1975, the legal wife of the testator, Rufina Gomez and her children filed an opposition alleging inter alia that the execution of the Will was procured by undue and improper influence on the part of the petitioner, that at the time of the execution of the Will, the testator was

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already very sick and that petitioner having admitted her living in concubinage with the testator, she is wanting in integrity and thus, letters testamentary should not be issued to her. On January 6, 1976, the lower court denied the probate of the Will on the ground that as the testator admitted in his Will to cohabiting with the petitioner from December 1952 until his death on July 16, 1974, the Will's admission to probate will be an Idle exercise because on the face of the Will, the invalidity of its intrinsic provisions is evident. On appeal, the decision was reversed.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the respondent court acted in excess of its jurisdiction when after declaring the last Will and Testament of the deceased Martin Jugo validly drawn, it went on to pass upon the intrinsic validity of the testamentary provision in favor of herein petitioner.

HELD:

The respondent court acted within its jurisdiction when after declaring the Will to be validly drawn, it went on to pass upon the intrinsic validity of the Will and declared the devise in favor of the petitioner null and void. The general rule is that in probate proceedings, the court's area of inquiry is limited to an examination and resolution of the extrinsic validity of the Will. The rule, however, is not inflexible and absolute. Given exceptional circumstances, the probate court is not powerless to do what the situation constrains it to do and pass upon certain provisions of the Will. In Nuguid v. Nuguid (17 SCRA 449) cited by the trial court, the testator instituted the petitioner as universal heir and completely preterited her surviving forced heirs. A will of this nature, no matter how valid it may appear extrinsically, would be null and void. Separate or latter proceedings to determine the intrinsic validity of the testamentary provisions would be superfluous. Even before establishing the formal validity of the will, the Court in Balanay .Jr. v. Martinez (64 SCRA 452) passed upon the validity of its intrinsic provisions. The court invoked “practical considerations” in the case at hand. There appears to be no more dispute at this time over the extrinsic validity of the Will. Both parties are agreed that the Will of Martin Jugo was executed with all the formalities required by law and that the testator had the mental capacity to execute his Will. We see no useful purpose that would be served if we remand the nullified provision to the proper court in a separate action for that purpose simply

WILLS AND SUCCESSION DIGESTS (16-30) SECTION 4D (2016 -2017) Vice Dean Marciano Delson

because, in the probate of a will, the court does not ordinarily look into the intrinsic validity of its provisions.

24. Polly Cayetano vs. Hon. Tomas Leonidas, in his capacity as the Presiding Judge of Court of First Instance of Manila and Nenita Paguia, G.R. No. L-54919 May 30, 1984 GUTIERREZ, JR., J. FACTS:

Adoracion C. Campos died, leaving her father, petitioner Hermogenes Campos and her sisters, private respondents Nenita Paguia, et al as the surviving heirs. As Hermogenes Campos was the only compulsory heir, he executed an affidavit adjudicating unto himself the ownership of the entire estate of the deceased Adoracion Campos. Several months thereafter, Nenita Paguia filed a petition for the reprobate of a will of the deceased, Adoracion Campos, which was allegedly executed in Pennsylvania United States and for her appointment as administratrix of the estate of the deceased testatrix. Nenita alleged that the testatrix was an American citizen at the time of her death and was a permanent resident of Pennsylvania, U.S.A. that the testatrix died in Manila and that during her lifetime, the testatrix made her last will and testament according to the laws of Pennsylvania, U.S.A. and that after the testatrix death, her last will and testament was presented, probated, allowed, and registered in Philadelphia, U.S.A. Petitioner filed an opposition to the reprobate of the will alleging that its intrinsic provisions are null and void and that even if pertinent American laws on intrinsic provisions are invoked, the same could not apply because they would work injustice and injury to him. Respondent judge issued an order admitting said will and allowed probate in the Philippines. Nenita Paguia was appointed administratrix.

ISSUE:

Is the reprobation of the will invalid for it divested the father of his legitime which was reserved by the law for the latter and the same would work injustice and injury to him? NO.

RULING:

NO. Under Article 16 par. (2) and 1039 of the Civil Code which respectively provide:

“However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the order of succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the

intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever may be the nature of the property and regardless of the country wherein said property may be found” “Capacity to succeed is governed by the law of the nation of the decedent. The law which governs Adoracion Campo's will is the law of Pennsylvania, U.S.A., which is the national law of the decedent” It is a settled rule that as regards the intrinsic validity of the provisions of the will, as provided for by Article 16(2) and 1039 of the Civil Code, the national law of the decedent must apply. It is evident that whatever public policy or good customs may be involved in our system of legitimes, Congress has not intended to extend the same to the succession of foreign nationals. For it has specifically chosen to leave, inter alia, the amount of successional rights, to the decedent's national law. Specific provisions must prevail over general ones. Although on its face, the will appeared to have preterited the petitioner and thus, the respondent judge should have denied its reprobate outright, the private respondents have sufficiently established that Adoracion was, at the time of her death, an American citizen and a permanent resident of U.S.A.

25. Vda. de Molo v. Molo G.R. No. L-2538, September 21, 1951 Bautista Angelo, J.

FACTS:

In this appeal from the decision of the then Court of First Instance of Rizal, the appellant Vda. de Molo is questioning the admission for probate of the last will and testament of the deceased Mariano Molo executed on 1918. The deceased, during his lifetime, executed two wills, one in 1918, and the other in 1939. The latter contains a clause which expressly revokes the will executed in 1918. Vda. de Molo filed for a petition for the probate of the 1939 will. Without any opposition therein, the will was admitted for probate. However, upon a petition filed by the respondents, the previous order was set aside and the case was reopened. Petitioner contends that the 1918 was deliberately revoked by Molo himself by executing the 1939 will which contains a revocation clause, notwithstanding its disallowance. The respondents, on the other hand, contend that there is no showing that the testator deliberately revoked that 1918 will, and since the 1939 will was defective, it cannot be given effect.

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WILLS AND SUCCESSION DIGESTS (16-30) SECTION 4D (2016 -2017) Vice Dean Marciano Delson

ISSUE: Can it 1939 will revoke the 1918 will notwithstanding its disallowance for probate?

RULING: No. The 1939 will cannot revoke the 1918 will because it was precisely disallowed for probate.

It is true that the law on the matter (Sec. 623, Code of Civil Procedure)

provides that a will may be revoked by some will, codicil, or other writing executed as provided in case of wills.

It cannot be said that the 1939 will should be regarded, not as a will within

the meaning of said word, but as “other writing executed as provided in the case of wills”, simply because it was denied probate. And even if it be regarded as any other writing within the meaning of said clause, there is authority holding that unless said writing is admitted to probate, it cannot have the effect of revocation. Therefore, the 1918 will should be admitted to probate.

26. The Heirs of the Late Jesus Fran v. Salas G.R. No. L-53546 June 25, 1992 DAVIDE, JR. J:

FACTS: Remedios M. Vda. de Tiosejo died, leaving real and personal

properties. She executed a last will and testament wherein she bequeathed

to her collateral relatives all her properties.

On 15 July 1972, Jesus Fran filed a petition for the probate of the will. On 10

August 1972, the private respondents, who are sisters of the deceased, filed

a manifestation alleging that they needed time to study the petition. Private

respondents did not file any opposition. Instead, they filed on 18 September 1972 a "Withdrawal of Opposition to the Allowance of Probate of the Will”. The petition thus became uncontested. On 13 November 1972, the probate court rendered a decision admitting to probate the will. A Project of Partition based on the dispositions made in the will and signed by all the devisees and legatees, with the exception of Luis Fran, Remedios Mejia and respondent Concepcion Espina, was submitted. Said legatees and devisees submitted certifications wherein they admit receipt of a copy of the Project of Partition together with the notice of hearing, and state that they had no objection to its approval. After the hearing on the Project of Partition, the court issued its Order of 10 September 1973 approving the same, declaring the parties therein as the only heirs

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entitled to the estate of Remedios, directing the administrator to deliver to the said parties their respective shares and decreeing the proceedings closed. Private respondents filed an Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration of the probate judgment of 13 November 1972 and the Order of partition of 10 September 1973. In said motion, they ask the court to declare the proceedings still open and admit their opposition to the allowance of the will, which they filed on 1 October 1979. Consequently, on 8 April 1980, the instant petition was filed challenging the jurisdiction of the lower court in taking cognizance of the Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration considering that the probate judgment and the order approving the Project of Partition and terminating the proceedings had long become final and had in fact been executed. ISSUE: Can the Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration be treated as a petition for relief from judgment (– a remedy which will allow private respondent to impugn the probate decree)? HELD: NO. Private respondents have lost their right to file a petition for relief from judgment. In Our jurisdiction, the following courses of action are open to an aggrieved party to set aside or attack the validity of a final judgment:

(1) Petition for relief under Rule 38 of the Rules of Court which must be filed within sixty (60) days after learning of the decision, but not more than six (6) months after such decision is entered; (2) By direct action, via a special civil action for certiorari, or by collateral attack, assuming that the decision is void for want of jurisdiction; (3) By an independent civil action under Article 1114 of the Civil Code, assuming that the decision was obtained through fraud and Rule 38 cannot be applied. It is not difficult to see that private respondents had lost their right to file a petition for relief from judgment, it appearing that their omnibus motion for reconsideration was filed exactly six (6) years, ten (10) months and twenty- two (22) days after the rendition of the decision, and six (6) years, one (1) month and thirteen (13) days after the court issued the order approving the Project of Partition, to which they voluntarily expressed their conformity through their respective certifications, and closing the testate proceedings. Granting for the sake of argument that the non-fulfillment of petitioner’s promise to present the original will constitutes fraud, such fraud is not of the kind which provides sufficient justification for a motion for reconsideration or a petition for relief from judgment under Rule 37 and Rule 38, respectively, of the Rules of Court, or even a separate action for annulment of judgment. It is settled that for fraud to be invested with, sufficiency, it must be extrinsic or

WILLS AND SUCCESSION DIGESTS (16-30) SECTION 4D (2016 -2017) Vice Dean Marciano Delson

collateral to the matters involved in the issues raised during the trial which resulted in such judgment. Private respondents did not avail of the other two (2) modes of attack. The probate judgment of 13 November 1972, long final and undisturbed by any attempt to unsettle it, had inevitably passed beyond the reach of the court below to annul or set the same aside, by mere motion, on the ground that the will is a forgery. Settled is the rule that the decree of probate is conclusive with respect to the due execution of the will and it cannot be impugned on any of the grounds authorized by law, except that of fraud, in any separate or independent action or proceeding.

27. CANEDA VS. CA G.R. No. 103554. May 28, 1993 REGALADO, J:

Facts:

Mateo Caballero, a widower without any children executed a last will and testament before three attesting witnesses. The said testator was duly assisted by his lawyer, Atty. Emilio Lumontad, and a notary public, Atty. Filoteo Manigos, in the preparation of that last will. In the attestation clause it states: “"We, the undersigned attesting Witnesses, whose Residences and postal addresses appear on the Opposite of our respective names, we do hereby certify that the Testament was read by him and the testator, MATEO CABALLERO, has published unto us the foregoing Will consisting of THREE PAGES, including the Acknowledgment, each page numbered correlatively in letters on the upper part of each page, as his Last Will and Testament and he has signed the same and every page thereof, on the spaces provided for his signature and on the left hand margin, in the presence of the said testator and in the presence of each and all of us.” Mateo Caballero himself filed a petition docketed as Special Proceeding No. 3899-R before Branch II of the then Court of First Instance of Cebu seeking the probate of his last will and testament. Petitioners asserted therein 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 that 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.

Issue: Is the absence in the attestation clause of a statement to that effect that “instrumental witnesses were present when the testator signed the will

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and the witnesses also signed the will and all its pages in the presence of testator and of one another” renders the will invalid?

Held: Yes. It will be noted that Article 805 requires that the witnesses 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 that act of the senses, while subscription is the act of the hand. The former is mental, the latter mechanical, and to attest a will is to know that it was published as such, and to certify the facts required to constitute an actual and legal publication; but to subscribe a paper published as a will is only to write on the same paper the names of the witnesses, for the sole purpose of identification. 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. What is fairly apparent upon a careful reading of the attestation clause herein assailed is the fact 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. The phrase "and he has signed the same and every page thereof, on the spaces provided for his signature and on the left hand margin," obviously refers to the testator and not the instrumental witnesses as it is immediately preceded by the words "as his Last Will and Testament." On the other hand, although the words "in the presence of the testator and in the presence of each and all of us" may, at first blush, appear to likewise signify and refer to

the witnesses, it must however, be interpreted as referring only to the testator signing in the presence of the witnesses since said phrase immediately follows the words "he has signed the same and every page thereof, on the spaces provided for his signature and on the left hand margin." What is then clearly lacking, in the final logical analysis, is the statement that the witnesses signed the will and every page thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another. It is our considered view that the absence of that 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 aforestated 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

WILLS AND SUCCESSION DIGESTS (16-30) SECTION 4D (2016 -2017) Vice Dean Marciano Delson

application of the substantial compliance rule. It may thus be stated that the rule, as it now stands, is that omissions which can be supplied by an examination of the will itself, without the need of resorting to extrinsic evidence, will not be fatal and, correspondingly, would not obstruct the allowance to probate of the will being assailed. However, those omissions which cannot be supplied except by evidence aliunde would result in the invalidation of the attestation clause and ultimately, of the will itself. Hence, the will is invalid.

28. AGAPAY v. PALANG G.R. No. 116668. July 28, 1997 ROMERO, J. FACTS: In 1946, Miguel Palang married Carlina Vallesterol in Pangasinan, with whom he had one child, Herminia. In 1973, the then 63-year-old Miguel contracted his second marriage with 19-year-old Erlinda Agapay. Two months before the marriage, Miguel and Erlinda jointly purchased a parcel of riceland. A house and lot was likewise purchased, but the titles to the properties were issued in Erlinda's name. Meanwhile, Miguel and Carlina executed a Deed of Donation as a form of compromise agreement whereby they agreed to donate their conjugal property consisting of six parcels of land to Herminia. In 1977, Miguel and Erlinda had a son, Kristopher. Two years later, Miguel and Erlinda were convicted of concubinage. Miguel died in 1981. Meanwhile, Carlina and Herminia filed an action to recover the riceland and house and lot from Erlinda. For her part, Erlinda averred that while the riceland was jointly registered in her and Miguel's names, she had already given her half of the property to their son Kristopher. She added that the house and lot is her sole property, having bought the same with her own money. Erlinda added that Carlina is precluded from claiming the properties since Carlina had already donated their conjugal estate to Herminia.

ISSUE: Can Erlinda claim a better right of ownership over the subject properties?

HELD: NO. Erlinda cannot assert ownership of the properties she had acquired during her union with Miguel. With respect to the riceland, Article 148 of the Family Code is applicable. Under Article 148, only the properties acquired by both of the parties through their actual joint contribution of money, property or industry shall be owned

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by them in common in proportion to their respective contributions. In this case, Miguel and Erlinda’s union was patently void because the earlier marriage of Miguel and Carlina was still susbsisting and unaffected by the latter’s de facto separation. Further, Erlinda was not able to sufficiently establish that she actually contributed money to buy the riceland. Considering that she was only 23 years old at the time, it is unrealistic to conclude that she contributed P3,750.00 as her share in the purchase price of subject property. Since she failed to prove that she contributed money to the purchase price of the riceland in Binalonan, Pangasinan, we find no basis to justify her co-ownership with Miguel over the same. With respect to the house and lot, Erlinda allegedly bought the properties for P20,000.00 when she was only 22 years old. The transaction was properly a donation made by Miguel to Erlinda, but one which was clearly void and inexistent by express provision of law because it was made between persons guilty of adultery or concubinage at the time of the donation, under Article 739 of the Civil Code. Moreover, Article 87 of the Family Code expressly provides that the prohibition against donations between spouses now applies to donations between persons living together as husband and wife without a valid marriage, for otherwise, the condition of those who incurred guilt would turn out to be better than those in legal union. Therefore, the subject properties rightfully belong to the conjugal estate of Miguel and Carlina.

29. Reyes v. Court of Appeals G.R. No. 124099, October 30, 1997 Torres, Jr., J.:

FACTS:

This is a petition for review of the CA decision which allowed the probate of the will of Torcuato Reyes, Jr. (Reyes) and directed the issuance of Letters Testamentary in favour of Petitioner Julio Vivares (Vivares) as executor. Petitioners Manuel G. Reyes, Mila G. Reyes, Danilo G. Reyes, Lyn Agape, Marites Agape, Estebana Galolo and Celsa Agape are the oppositors.

Reyes executed his last will and testament where he bequeathed in favour of his alleged wife Asuncion Oning R. Reyes most of his properties.

After Reyes died on May 12, 1992 private respondent filed a petition for probate of the will on May 21, 1992 before the RTC of Mambajao, Camiguin.

WILLS AND SUCCESSION DIGESTS (16-30) SECTION 4D (2016 -2017) Vice Dean Marciano Delson

The petitioners filed an opposition with the following allegations: a) that the last will and testament of Reyes was not executed and attested in accordance with the formalities of law; and b) that Asuncion Reyes Ebarle exerted undue and improper influence upon the testator at the time of the execution of the will. The opposition further averred that Reyes was never married to and could never marry Asuncion Reyes, the woman he claimed to be his wife in the will, because the latter was already married to Lupo Ebarle who was still then alive and their marriage was never annulled. Thus Asuncion cannot be a compulsory heir for her open cohabitation with Reyes was violative of public morals.

The RTC declared that the will was executed in accordance with the formalities prescribed by law. It, however, nullified the provisions involving Asuncion Reyes on the ground that she is disqualified due to her illicit relationship with the decedent. The CA likewise admitted the will but restored the provisions nullified by the trial court. Aggrieved, the oppositors filed this petition for review.

ISSUE: Must the will be admitted to probate?

HELD:

Yes. The will must be admitted to probate.

As a general rule, courts in probate proceedings are limited to pass only upon the extrinsic validity of the will sought to be probated. Thus, the court merely inquires on its due execution, whether or not it complies with the formalities prescribed by law, and the testamentary capacity of the testator. It does not determine nor even by implication prejudge the validity or efficacy of the wills provisions. The intrinsic validity is not considered since the consideration thereof usually comes only after the will has been proved and allowed.

Exceptionally, intrinsic can be first determined as in the following instances:

(a) when the defect of the will is apparent on its face and the probate of the will may become a useless ceremony if it is intrinsically invalid; or (b) where the parties agree that the intrinsic validity be first determined, the probate court may also do so. Parenthetically, the rule on probate is not inflexible and absolute. Under exceptional circumstances, the probate court is not powerless to do what the situation constrains it to do and pass upon certain provisions of the will.

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Here, the lower court was not asked to rule upon the intrinsic validity or efficacy of the provisions of the will. As a result, the declaration of the testator that Asuncion Oning Reyes was his wife did not have to be scrutinized during the probate proceedings. Moreover, the CA correctly held that the trial court relied on uncorroborated testimonial evidence that Asuncion Reyes was still married to another during the time she cohabited with the testator. The testimonies of the witnesses were merely hearsay and even uncertain as to the whereabouts or existence of Lupo Ebarle, the supposed husband of Asuncion.

Considering that the oppositors never showed any competent evidence, documentary or otherwise during the trial to show that Asuncion Oning Reyes marriage to the testator was inexistent or void, either because of a pre-existing marriage or adulterous relationship, the trial court gravely erred in striking down paragraph II (a) and (b) of the subject Last Will and Testament, as void for being contrary to law and morals. Said declarations are not sufficient to destroy the presumption of marriage. Nor is it enough to overcome the very declaration of the testator that Asuncion Reyes is his wife.

30. ROLANDO SANCHEZ vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS G.R. No. 108947; September 29, 1997 PANGANIBAN, J.:

Facts: Rosalia S. Lugod, being the only child, filed a petition for letters of administration over the estate of her mother who died and the estate of her father, Juan C. Sanchez, who was at the time in state of senility.Before the administration proceedings could be terminated and Rosalia’s father, Juan Sanchez, died. The private respondent as illegitimate child of the latter, filed a petition for letters of administration over the intestate estate of Juan C. Sanchez, which petition was opposed by Rosalia. Thereafter, Rosalia and petitioners (other illegitimate children) executed a compromise agreement wherein they agreed to divide the properties of the late Juan C. Sanchez. Nine years later, the petitioners filed, a motion to defer the approval of the compromise agreement in which they prayed for the annulment of the compromise agreement. Petitioners contended among other that the compromise agreement is not valid Issues:

1. Is judicial approval necessary if the compromise agreement was executed during the pendency of the probate proceedings?

WILLS AND SUCCESSION DIGESTS (16-30) SECTION 4D (2016 -2017) Vice Dean Marciano Delson

2. Are the compromise agreements entered into by guardians and parents in behalf of their wards or children in this case valid without judicial authority?

Ruling:

1. No. Article 2028 of the Civil Code defines a compromise agreement as a contract whereby the parties, by making reciprocal concessions, avoid a litigation or put an end to one already commenced. Being a consensual contract, it is perfected upon the meeting of the minds of the parties. Judicial approval is not required for its perfection. In this case, since the compromise agreement was the result of a long drawn out process, with all the parties ably striving to protect their respective interests and to come out with the best they could, there can be no doubt that the parties entered into it freely and voluntarily. Accordingly, they should be bound thereby. To be valid, it is merely required under the law to be based on real claims and actually agreed upon in good faith by the parties thereto. 2.YES. However, Supreme Court observed that although denominated a compromise agreement, the document in this case is essentially a deed of partition, pursuant to Article 1082 of the Civil Code which provides that [e]very act which is intended to put an end to indivision among co-heirs and legatees or devisees is deemed to be a partition, although it should purport to be a sale, an exchange, a compromise, or any other transaction. For a partition to be valid, Section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court, requires the concurrence of the following conditions: (1) the decedent left no will; (2) the decedent left no debts, or if there were debts left, all had been paid; (3) the heirs and liquidators are all of age, or if they are minors, the latter are represented by their judicial guardian or legal representatives; and (4) the partition was made by means of a public instrument or affidavit duly filed with the Register of Deeds. The Court finds that all the foregoing requisites are present in this case. The Court therefore affirmed the validity of the parties’ compromise agreement/partition in this case.