Civil Law, Special Proceedings

Lazatin v. Judge Campos G.R. No. L-43955-56 July 30, 1979 Succession, Adoption, Probate Proceedings


Dr. Mariano M. Lazatin died intestate in Pasay City, survived by his wife, Margarita de Asis, and his adopted twin daughters, respondent Nora L. de Leon and respondent Irma Lazatin.

One month after Mariano’s death, his widow, Margarita de Asis, commenced an intestate proceeding before the CFI of Pasay. Mariano, Oscar, Virgilio and Yvonne, claiming to be admitted illegitimate (not natural) children of Dr. Lazatin with one Helen Munoz, intervened. Subsequently, one Lily Lazatin also intervened, claiming to be another admitted illegitimate child.

Two months after, the widow, Margarita de Asis, also died, leaving a holographic will.

Petitioner’s son filed a motion in the probate court, claiming that the deceased had executed a will, and prayed for the opening of the safety deposit box kept by Margarita de Asis at the People’s Bank and Trust Company, which either she or respondent Nora L. de Leon could open.

Upon the order of the probate court, the safety deposit box was opened but it was found to be empty, because Nora L. de Leon had already removed its contents.

Petitioner, as an admitted illegitimate (not natural) child,  intervened for the first time in the proceedings to settle the estate of the late Dr. Mariano M. Lazatin.

The two cases were transferred to the sala of respondent Judge Jose C. Campos, Jr.

On August 20, 1975, petitioner Renato  Lazatin alias Renato Sta. Clara filed a motion to intervene in the estate of Margarita de Asis, as an adopted child, on the basis of an affidavit executed by Benjamin Lazatin, brother of the deceased Dr. Mariano M. Lazatin. Petitioner allegedly was an “illegitimate son” of Dr. Lazatin and was later adopted by him and his wife Margarita de Asis.

Respondent court ruled that petitioner has failed to establish his status as an adopted child of the deceased spouses.

Hence, this petition.


Whether petitioner shall be allowed to intervene in the proceedings to probate the will of the late Margarita de Asis Vda. de Lazatin.


We find the ruling of the respondent court to be in conformity with law and jurisprudence.

Adoption is a juridical act, a proceeding in rem, which creates between two persons a relationship similar to that which results from legitimate paternity and filiation.  Only an adoption made through the court, or in pursuance with the procedure laid down under Rule 99 of the Rules of Court is valid in this jurisdiction. 

To establish the relation, the statutory requirements must be strictly carried out, otherwise, the adoption is an absolute nullity. The fact of adoption is never presumed but must be affirmatively proved by the person claiming its existence. [T]he absence of a record of adoption has been said to evolve a presumption of its non-existence.  

Petitioner’s flow of evidence in the case below does not lead us to any proof of judicial adoption. Petitioner’s proofs do not show or tend to show that at one time or another a specific court of competent jurisdiction rendered in an adoption proceeding initiated by the late spouses an order approving his adoption as a child of the latter.

As a necessary consequence, petitioner Renato Lazatin alias Renato Sta. Clara cannot properly intervene in the settlement of the estate of Margarita de Asis as an adopted child because of lack of proof thereof. 

For one to intervene in an estate proceeding, it is a requisite that he has an interest in the estate, either as one who would be benefited as an heir or one who has a claim against the estate like a creditor. The burden of proof in establishing adoption is upon the person claiming such relationship. He must prove compliance with the statutes relating to adoption in the jurisdiction where the adoption occurred. 

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