Rule 76 – Allowance or Disallowance of Will

Alaban vs. CA (GR: 156021)

Under the Rules of Court, any executor, devisee, or legatee named in a will, or any other person interested in the estate may, at any time after the death of the testator, petition the court having jurisdiction to have the will allowed. Notice of the time and place for proving the will must be published for three (3) consecutive weeks, in a newspaper of general circulation in the province, as well as furnished to the designated or other known heirs, legatees, and devisees of the testator. Thus, it has been held that a proceeding for the probate of a will is one in rem, such that with the corresponding publication of the petition the court’s jurisdiction extends to all persons interested in said will or in the settlement of the estate of the decedent.

Publication is notice to the whole world that the proceeding has for its object to bar indefinitely all who might be minded to make an objection of any sort against the right sought to be established. It is the publication of such notice that brings in the whole world as a party in the case and vests the court with jurisdiction to hear and decide it. Thus, even though petitioners were not mentioned in the petition for probate, they eventually became parties thereto as a consequence of the publication of the notice of hearing.

Siangio vs. Hon. Reyes (GR 140371-72)

Segundos 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 latters 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 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.

Considering that the questioned document is Segundos holographic will, and that the law favors testacy over intestacy, the probate of the will cannot be dispensed with. Article 838 of the Civil Code provides that no will shall pass either real or personal property unless it is proved and allowed in accordance with the Rules of Court. Thus, unless the will is probated, the right of a person to dispose of his property may be rendered nugatory.

Maloles vs. Phillips  (GR: 129505)

In cases for the probate of wills, it is well-settled that the authority of the court is limited to ascertaining the extrinsic validity of the will, i.e., whether the testator, being of sound mind, freely executed the will in accordance with the formalities prescribed by law.

Ordinarily, probate proceedings are instituted only after the death of the testator, so much so that, after approving and allowing the will, the court proceeds to issue letters testamentary and settle the estate of the testator. The cases cited by petitioner are of such nature. In fact, in most jurisdictions, courts cannot entertain a petition for probate of the will of a living testator under the principle of ambulatory nature of wills.

However, Art. 838 of the Civil Code authorizes the filing of a petition for probate of the will filed by the testator himself. It provides:

Civil Code, Art. 838. No will shall pass either real or personal property unless it is proved and allowed in accordance with the Rules of Court.

The testator himself may, during his lifetime, petition the court having jurisdiction for the allowance of his will. In such case, the pertinent provisions of the Rules of Court for the allowance of wills after the testators death shall govern.

The Supreme Court shall formulate such additional Rules of Court as may be necessary for the allowance of wills on petition of the testator.

Subject to the right of appeal, the allowance of the will, either during the lifetime of the testator or after his death, shall be conclusive as to its due execution.

Baltazar vs. Laxa (GR: 174489)

Issue:

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED WHEN IT ALLOWED THE PROBATE OF PACIENCIAS WILL DESPITE RESPONDENTS UTTER FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH SECTION 11, RULE 76 OF THE RULES OF COURT;

They insist that all subscribing witnesses and the notary public should have been presented in court since all but one witness, Francisco, are still living.

We cannot agree with petitioners.

We note that the inability of Faustino and Judge Limpin to appear and testify before the court was satisfactorily explained during the probate proceedings. As testified to by his son, Faustino had a heart attack, was already bedridden and could no longer talk and express himself due to brain damage. To prove this, said witness presented the corresponding medical certificate. For her part, Dra. Limpin testified that her father, Judge Limpin, suffered a stroke in 1991 and had to undergo brain surgery. At that time, Judge Limpin could no longer talk and could not even remember his daughters name so that Dra. Limpin stated that given such condition, her father could no longer testify. It is well to note that at that point, despite ample opportunity, petitioners neither interposed any objections to the testimonies of said witnesses nor challenged the same on cross examination.

We thus hold that for all intents and purposes, Lorenzo was able to satisfactorily account for the incapacity and failure of the said subscribing witness and of the notary public to testify in court. Because of this the probate of Paciencias Will may be allowed on the basis of Dra. Limpins testimony proving her sanity and the due execution of the Will, as well as on the proof of her handwriting. It is an established rule that [a] testament may not be disallowed just because the attesting witnesses declare against its due execution; neither does it have to be necessarily allowed just because all the attesting witnesses declare in favor of its legalization; what is decisive is that the court is convinced by evidence before it, not necessarily from the attesting witnesses, although they must testify, that the will was or was not duly executed in the manner required by law.

 

 

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