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Ocampo v. Ocampo G.R. No. 187879, July 5, 2010 Special Administrator, Intestate Proceedings


Petitioners are the surviving spouse and the children of Leonardo Ocampo. Leonardo and his siblings, respondents Renato Ocampo and Erlinda Ocampo are the legitimate children and only heirs of  Spouses Vicente and Maxima Ocampo, who died intestate leaving several properties, no will and no debts.

Petitioners initiated a petition for intestate proceedings.

Respondents filed their Opposition and Counter-Petition arguing that the settlement of the estate of Leonardo was premature, the same being dependent only upon the determination of his hereditary rights in the settlement of his parents’ estate. 

Respondents prayed that they be appointed as special joint administrators of the estate of Vicente and Maxima.

The RTC appointed petitioner Dalisay, the surviving wife of Leonardo,  and respondent Renato as special joint administrators of the estate of the deceased spouses, and required them to post a bond.

The RTC subsequently revoked the appointment of Dalisay as co-special administratrix, substituting her with Erlinda. The RTC took into consideration the fact that respondents were the nearest of kin of Vicente and Maxima. 

Petitioners filed Motion to Terminate or Revoke the Special Administration and to Proceed to Judicial Partition or Appointment of Regular Administrator which was granted by the RTC.

The RTC appointed petitioner Melinda, daughter of Leonardo, as regular administratrix, and ruled that judicial partition may proceed after Melinda had assumed her duties and responsibilities as regular administratrix.

Aggrieved, respondents filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 before the CA, ascribing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the RTC.

The CA rendered its assailed Decision granting the petition based on the finding that the RTC gravely abused its discretion in revoking respondents’ appointment as joint special administrators, and for appointing Melinda as regular administratrix without conducting a formal hearing to determine her competency to assume as such.

Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision. The CA, however, denied it. 

Hence, this petition.


Whether legitimate heirs, being nearest of kin, must be prioritized for purposes of choosing an administrator.


The pertinent provisions relative to the special administration of the decedents’ estate under the Rules of Court provide—

Sec. 1. Appointment of special administrator. – When there is delay in granting letters testamentary or of administration by any cause including an appeal from the allowance or disallowance of a will, the court may appoint a special administrator to take possession and charge of the estate of the deceased until the questions causing the delay are decided and executors or administrators appointed.

Sec. 2. Powers and duties of special administrator. – Such special administrator shall take possession and charge of goods, chattels, rights, credits, and estate of the deceased and preserve the same for the executor or administrator afterwards appointed, and for that purpose may commence and maintain suits as administrator. xxx

Sec. 1. Bond to be given before issuance of letters; Amount; Conditions. – Before an executor or administrator enters upon the execution of his trust, and letters testamentary or of administration issue, he shall give a bond, in such sum as the court directs xx

Sec. 4. Bond of special administrator. – A special administrator before entering upon the duties of his trust shall give a bond, in such sum as the court directs, conditioned that he will make and return a true inventory of the goods, chattels, rights, credits, and estate of the deceased which come to his possession or knowledge xx

Inasmuch as there was a disagreement as to who should be appointed as administrator of the estate of Vicente and Maxima, the RTC, acting as a probate court, deemed it wise to appoint joint special administrators pending the determination of the person or persons to whom letters of administration may be issued. The RTC was justified in doing so considering that such disagreement caused undue delay in the issuance of letters of administration, pursuant to Section 1 of Rule 80 of the Rules of Court.

A special administrator is an officer of the court who is subject to its supervision and control, expected to work for the best interest of the entire estate, with a view to its smooth administration and speedy settlement. 

While the RTC considered that respondents were the nearest of kin to their deceased parents in their appointment as joint special administrators, this is not a mandatory requirement for the appointment. It has long been settled that the selection or removal of special administrators is not governed by the rules regarding the selection or removal of regular administrators. 

The probate court may appoint or remove special administrators based on grounds other than those enumerated in the Rules at its discretion, such that the need to first pass upon and resolve the issues of fitness or unfitness and the application of the order of preference under Section 6 of Rule 78, as would be proper in the case of a regular administrator, do not obtain. As long as the discretion is exercised without grave abuse, and is based on reason, equity, justice, and legal principles, interference by higher courts is unwarranted. The appointment or removal of special administrators, being discretionary, is thus interlocutory and may be assailed through a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.

The Decision of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that the Order of the RTC, with respect to the revocation of the special administration in favor of Renato M. Ocampo and Erlinda M. Ocampo, is REINSTATED. The appointment of Melinda Ocampo as regular administratrix is SET ASIDE. Melinda is designated instead as special administratrix of the estate under the same administrator’s bond she had posted. 

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