Civil Law, Remedial Law

BENJAMIN PALAGANAS vs. ERNESTO PALAGANAS G.R. No. 169144 January 26, 2011 Probate of a foreign will

FACTS:

Ruperta Palaganas, a Filipino who became a naturalized U.S. citizen, died single and childless. In the last will and testament she executed in California, she designated her brother, Sergio, as the executor of her will for she had left properties in the Philippines and in the U.S.

Ernesto, another brother of Ruperta, filed with the RTC of Malolos, Bulacan, a petition for the probate of Ruperta’s will and for his appointment as special administrator of her estate.

Manuel and Benjamin, nephews of Ruperta, opposed the petition on the ground that Ruperta’s will should not be probated in the Philippines but in the U.S. where she executed it. They added that, assuming Ruperta’s will could be probated in the Philippines, it is invalid nonetheless for having been executed under duress and without the testator’s full understanding of the consequences of such act. They also claimed that Ernesto is not qualified to act as administrator of the estate.

The RTC admitted to probate Ruperta’s last will and appointed Ernesto as special administrator at the request of Sergio. The Letters of Special Administration was issued to Ernesto.

Manuel and Benjamin appealed to the CA.

The CA affirmed the RTC Decision.

 

ISSUE:

Whether or not an unprobated will executed by an American citizen in the U.S. can be probated for the first time in the Philippines.

 

RULING:

Our laws do not prohibit the probate of wills executed by foreigners abroad although the same have not as yet been probated and allowed in the countries of their execution. A foreign will can be given legal effects in our jurisdiction. Article 816 of the Civil Code states that the will of an alien who is abroad produces effect in the Philippines if made in accordance with the formalities prescribed by the law of the place where he resides, or according to the formalities observed in his country.

Section 1, Rule 73 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides that if the decedent is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the RTC of the province where he has an estate may take cognizance of the settlement of such estate.

Our rules require merely that the petition for the allowance of a will must show, so far as known to the petitioner: (a) the jurisdictional facts; (b) the names, ages, and residences of the heirs, legatees, and devisees of the testator or decedent; (c) the probable value and character of the property of the estate; (d) the name of the person for whom letters are prayed; and (e) if the will has not been delivered to the court, the name of the person having custody of it. Jurisdictional facts refer to the fact of death of the decedent, his residence at the time of his death in the province where the probate court is sitting, or if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the estate he left in such province. The rules do not require proof that the foreign will has already been allowed and probated in the country of its execution.

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