Civil Law, Special Proceedings

CAYETANO vs. LEONIDAS G.R. No. L-54919    May 30, 1984 Jurisdiction of the Probate Court, Succession

 

FACTS:

 

This is a petition for review on certiorari, seeking to annul the order of the respondent judge of the CFI of Manila, which admitted to and allowed the probate of the last will and testament of Adoracion C. Campos, after an ex-parte presentation of evidence by herein private respondent.

Adoracion C. Campos died, leaving her father, petitioner Hermogenes Campos and her sisters, private respondents as the surviving heirs. As Hermogenes Campos was the only compulsory heir, he executed an Affidavit of Adjudication under Rule 74, Section I of the Rules of Court whereby he adjudicated unto himself the ownership of the entire estate of the deceased Adoracion Campos.

Eleven months after, Nenita C. Paguia filed a petition for the reprobate of a will of the deceased, Adoracion Campos, which was allegedly executed in the 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 that her last will and testament was presented, probated, allowed, and registered in Philadelphia.

An opposition to the reprobate of the will was filed by petitioner alleging that the will in question is a forgery; that the intrinsic provisions of the will are null and void; and that even if pertinent American laws on intrinsic provisions are invoked, the same could not apply inasmuch as they would work injustice and injury to him.

The respondent judge issued an order stating that the Last Will and Testament of the late Adoracion is admitted to and allowed probate in the Philippines, and appointed Nenita Campos Paguia as Administratrix of the estate of said decedent.

Petitioner died and left a will, appointing Polly Cayetano as the executrix of his last will and testament. Cayetano, filed a motion to substitute herself as petitioner in the instant case which was granted by the court.

Petitioner Cayetano persists with the allegations that the respondent judge acted without or in excess of his jurisdiction.

 

ISSUE:

Whether or not respondent judge acted with grave abuse of discretion when he allowed the reprobate of Adoracion’s will.

 

RULING:

We find no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the respondent judge.

As a general rule, the probate court’s authority is limited only to the extrinsic validity of the will, the due execution thereof, the testatrix’s testamentary capacity and the compliance with the requisites or solemnities prescribed by law. The intrinsic validity of the will normally comes only after the court has declared that the will has been duly authenticated. However, where practical considerations demand that the intrinsic validity of the will be passed upon, even before it is probated, the court should meet the issue.

In the case at bar, the petitioner maintains that since the respondent judge allowed the reprobate of Adoracion’s will, Hermogenes C. Campos was divested of his legitime which was reserved by the law for him.

This contention is without merit.

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 Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Therefore, under Article 16 par. (2) and 1039 of the Civil Code which respectively provide:

Art. 16 par. (2).

xxx xxx xxx

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.

Art. 1039.

Capacity to succeed is governed by the law of the nation of the decedent.

the law which governs Adoracion Campos’ 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.

Finally, we find the contention of the petition as to the issue of jurisdiction utterly devoid of merit. Under Rule 73, Section 1, of the Rules of Court, it is provided that:

SECTION 1. Where estate of deceased persons settled. — If the decedent is an inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an alien, his will shall be proved, or letters of administration granted, and his estate settled, in the Court of First Instance in the province in which he resided at the time of his death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the CFI of any province in which he had estate. The court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. The jurisdiction assumed by a court, so far as it depends on the place of residence of the decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not be contested in a suit or proceeding, except in an appeal from that court, in the original case, or when the want of jurisdiction appears on the record.

 

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