Rule 78 – Letters Testamentary and of Administration, When and to Whom Issued

In Re: Intestate Estate of Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay (GR: 183053)

Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court lists the order of preference in the appointment of an administrator of an estate…

However, the order of preference is not absolute for it depends on the attendant facts and circumstances of each case. Jurisprudence has long held that the selection of an administrator lies in the sound discretion of the trial court.  In the main, the attendant facts and circumstances of this case necessitate, at the least, a joint administration by both respondent and Emilio III of their grandmothers, Cristinas, estate.

Ocampo vs. Ocampo (GR:  187879)

It may be mentioned that, despite the filing by respondents of their Opposition and Comment to the motion to revoke the special administration, the prayer for the appointment of Melinda as regular administratrix of the estate was not specifically traversed in the said pleading. Thus, the capacity, competency, and legality of Melindas appointment as such was not properly objected to by respondents despite being the next of kin to the decedent spouses, and was not threshed out by the RTC acting as a probate court in accordance with the above mentioned Rules.

However, having in mind the objective of facilitating the settlement of the estate of Vicente and Maxima, with a view to putting an end to the squabbles of the heirs, we take into account the fact that Melinda, pursuant to the RTC Order dated March 13, 2008, already posted the required bond of P200,000.00 on March 26, 2008, by virtue of which, Letters of Administration were issued to her the following day, and that she filed an Inventory of the Properties of the Estate dated April 15, 2008. These acts clearly manifested her intention to serve willingly as administratrix of the decedents estate, but her appointment should be converted into one of special administration, pending the proceedings for regular administration. Furthermore, since it appears that the only unpaid obligation is the hospital bill due from Leonardos estate, which is not subject of this case, judicial partition may then proceed with dispatch.

Avelino vs. CA (GR:  115181)

When a person dies intestate, or, if testate, failed to name an executor in his will or the executor so named is incompetent, or refuses the trust, or fails to furnish the bond required by the Rules of Court, then the decedent’s estate shall be judicially administered and the competent court shall appoint a qualified administrator in the order established in Section 6 of Rule 78. The exceptions to this rule are found in Sections 1 and 2 of Rule 74.

San Luis vs. San Luis (GR: 133743)

Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court states that letters of administration may be granted to the surviving spouse of the decedent. However, Section 2, Rule 79 thereof also provides in part:

SEC. 2. Contents of petition for letters of administration. A petition for letters of administration must be filed by an interested person and must show, as far as known to the petitioner: x x x.

An interested person has been defined as one who would be benefited by the estate, such as an heir, or one who has a claim against the estate, such as a creditor. The interest must be material and direct, and not merely indirect or contingent.

In the instant case, respondent would qualify as an interested person who has a direct interest in the estate of Felicisimo by virtue of their cohabitation, the existence of which was not denied by petitioners.

Nittscher vs. Nittscher (GR: 160530)

In this case, records show that petitioner, with whom Dr. Nittscher had no child, and Dr. Nittscher’s children from his previous marriage were all duly notified, by registered mail, of the probate proceedings. Petitioner even appeared in court to oppose respondents petition for the issuance of letters testamentary and she also filed a motion to dismiss the said petition. She likewise filed a motion for reconsideration of the issuance of the letters testamentary and of the denial of her motion to dismiss. We are convinced petitioner was accorded every opportunity to defend her cause. Therefore, petitioners allegation that she was denied due process in the probate proceedings is without basis.

Heirs of Castillo vs. Lacuata-Gabriel (GR:  162934)

The ruling of the CA is correct. The Court has repeatedly held that the appointment of a special administrator lies in the sound discretion of the probate court. A special administrator is a representative of a decedent appointed by the probate court to care for and preserve his estate until an executor or general administrator is appointed. When appointed, a special administrator is regarded not as a representative of the agent of the parties suggesting the appointment, but as the administrator in charge of the estate, and, in fact, as an officer of the court. As such officer, he is subject to the supervision and control of the probate court and is expected to work for the best interests of the entire estate, especially its smooth administration and earliest settlement.

The principal object of appointment of temporary administrator is to preserve the estate until it can pass into hands of person fully authorized to administer it for the benefit of creditors and heirs. In many instances, the appointment of administrators for the estates of decedents frequently become involved in protracted litigations, thereby exposing such estates to great waste and losses unless an authorized agent to collect the debts and preserve the assets in the interim is appointed. The occasion for such an appointment, likewise, arises where, for some cause, such as a pendency of a suit concerning the proof of the will, regular administration is delayed.

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