Wills and Succession Case Digest In Re Summary Settlement of the Estate of Melodia Ferraris

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Wills and Succession

Case Digest

In Re Summary Settlement of the Estate of Melodia Ferraris
petitioner-appellant, vs.
Gaudencia FERRARIS, et al., oppositors-appellants.
G.R. No. L-19382, August 31, 1965


Melodia Ferraris left properties in Cebu City consisting of 1/3 share in the estate of her aunt Rosa Ferraris. Ten years have elapsed since the last time she was known to be alive, she was declared presumptively dead for purposes of opening her succession and distribute her estate among heirs. Hence, a petition for the summary settlement of her estate was filed. Melodia left no surviving descendant, ascendant or spouse, but was survived only by collateral relatives: 1) an aunt and half-sister of decedent’s father; and 2) her nieces and nephews who were children of Melodia’s only brother of full blood who predeceased her. In the settlement proceeding, Filomena Abellana de Bacayo, who is the decedent’s half-sister, was excluded as an heir pursuant to a resolution issued by the lower court. A motion for reconsideration was denied hence this action.


Who should inherit the intestate estate of a deceased person when he or she is survived only by collateral relatives, to wit an aunt and the children of a brother who predeceased him? Or will the aunt concur with the children of the decedent’s brother or will the former be excluded by the latter.


As an aunt of the deceased she is as far distant as the nephews from the decedent (three degrees) since in the collateral line to which both kinds of relatives belong, degrees are counted by first ascending to the common ancestor and descending to the heir (Art. 966, Civil Code). Appellant is likewise right in her contention that nephews and nieces alone do not inherit by right of representation unless concurring with brothers or sisters of the deceased, as provided expressly by Art. 975.

Nevertheless, the trial court was correct when it held that, in case of intestacy, nephews and nieces exclude all other collaterals (aunts and uncles, first cousins, etc.) from the succession. This is readily apparent from articles 1001, 1004, 1005, and 1009 of the Civil Code.

Constantino C. ACAIN, petitioner vs.
G.R. No. 72706, October 27, 1987


Constantino Acain filed on the Regional Trial Court a petition for the probate of the will of his late Uncle, Nemesio Acain, on the premise that the latter died leaving a will in which the former and his brothers and sisters were instituted as heirs. After the petition was set for hearing in the lower court, Virginia Fernandez and Rosa Diongson, a legally adopted daughter and the widow of the deceased respectively, filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that: (1) Constantino Acain has no legal capacity to institute the proceedings; (2) he is merely a universal heir; and (3) the widow and the adopted daughter have been pretirited. Said motion was denied as well as the subsequent motion for reconsideration. Consequently, Fernandez and Diongson filed with the Supreme Court a petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction which was subsequently referred to the Intermediate Appellate Court. IAC granted Fernandez and Diongson’s petition and ordered the trial court to dismiss the petition for probate of the will. Due to the denial of Acain’s motion for reconsideration, he then filed a petition for review on certiorari before the Supreme Court.


Whether or not Virginia Fernandez and Rosa Diongson have been pretirited.


Article 854 of the Civil Code:

The preterition or omission of one, some, or all of the compulsory heirs in the direct line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will or born after the death of the testator, shall annul the institution of heir; but the devisees and legacies shall be valid insofar as they are not inofficious.

If the omitted compulsory heirs should die before the testator, the institution shall be effectual, without prejudice to the right of representation.

Preterition consists in the omission in the testator’s will of the forced heirs or anyone of them either because they are not mentioned therein, or though mentioned, they are neither instituted as heirs nor are expressly disinherited. Insofar as the widow is concerned, Article 854 may not apply as she does not ascend or descend from the testator, although she is a compulsory heir. However, the same thing cannot be said of the legally adopted daughter. Under Article 39 of P.D. No. 603, known as the Child and Youth Welfare Code, adoption gives to the adopted person the same rights and duties as if he were a legitimate child of the adopter and makes the adopted person a legal heir of the adopter. It cannot be denied that she was totally omitted and preterited in the will and that both the adopted child and the widow were deprived of at least their legitime. Neither can it be denied that they were not expressly disinherited. Hence, this is a clear case of preterition of the legally adopted child.

The universal institution of Acain together with his brothers and sisters to the entire inheritance of the testator results in totally abrogating the will because the nullification of such institution of universal heirs without any other testamentary disposition in the will amounts to a declaration that nothing at all was written.

Danilo ALUAD, et al., petitioners vs.
Zenaido ALUAD, respondent
G.R. No. 176943, October 17, 2008


Petitioner’s mother, Maria Aluad and respondent Zenaido Aluad were raised by the childless spouses Matilde and Crispin Aluad. Crispin was the owner of six lots of Pilar Cadastre, Capiz. After his death, Matilde adjudicated the lots to herself and thereafter, she executed a Deed of Donation of Real Property Inter Vivos in favor of Maria covering all the six lots. The Deed provided that such

will become effective upon the death of the Donor, but in the event that the Donee should die before the Donor, the present donation shall be deemed rescinded. Provided, however, that anytime during the lifetime of the Donor or anyone of them who should survive, they could use, encumber or even dispose of any or even all of the parcels of the land.

Matilde sold one of the lots to Zenaido and subsequently, Matilde executed a last will and testament devising four (4) of the lots to Maria and the remaining lot to Zenaido. Maria died a few months after Matilde’s death. Thereafter, Maria’s heirs (herein petitioners) filed before the RTC a complaint for declaration and recovery of ownership and possession of the two lots conveyed and donated to Zenaido, alleging that no rights have been transmitted to the latter because such lots have been previously alienated to them to Maria via the Deed of Donation. The lower court decided in favor of the petitioners however, CA reversed said decision upon appeal of Zenaido which held that the Deed of Donation was actually a donation mortis causa, not inter vivos and as such it had to, but did not, comply with the formalities of a will. Due to the denial of the petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration, the present Petition for Review has been filed.


  1. Whether or not the Deed of Donation is donation inter vivos and whether or not such deed is valid.

  2. If so, whether or not Matilde Aluad has the right to convey the lots in question to Zenaido Aluad.


The Court finds the donation to Maria Aluad (petitioner’s mother) one of mortis causa, it having the following characteristics:

  1. It conveys no title or ownership to the transferee before the death of the transferor, or what amounts to the same thing, that the transferor should retain the ownership (full or naked) and control of the property while alive;

  2. That before the death of the transferor, the transfer should be revocable, by the transferor at will, ad nutum, but revocability may be provided for indirectly by means of a reserved power in the donor to dispose of the properties conveyed; and

  3. That the transfer should be void of the transferor should survive the transferee.

The phrase in the earlier-qouted Deed of Donation “to become effective upon the death of the DONOR” admits of no other interpretation than to mean that Matilde did not intend to transfer the ownership of the six lots to petitioner’s mother during the former’s lifetime. Further the statement, “anytime during the lifetime of the DONOR or anyone of them who should survive, they could use, encumber or even dispose of any or even all the parcels of land herein donated,” means that Matilde retained ownership of the lots and reserved in her the right to dispose them. For the right to dispose of a thing without other limitations than those established by law is an attribute of ownership. The phrase, “anyone of them who should survive” is out of sync. For the Deed of Donation clearly stated that it would take effect upon the death of the donor, hence, said phrase could only have referred to the donor.

The donation being then mortis causa, the formalities of a will should have been observed but they were not, as it was witnessed by only two, not three or more witnesses following Article 805 of the Civil Code. It is void and transmitted no right to petitioner’s mother. But even assuming arguendo that the formalities were observed, since it was not probated, no right to the two lots was transmitted to Maria. Matilde thus validly disposed the lot to Zenaido by her last will and testament, subject to the qualification that her will must be probated. With respect to the conveyed lot, the same had been validly sold by Matilde to Zenaido.

In the Matter of the Probate of the Last Will and Testament of the Deceased Brigido Alvarado,
petitioner vs.
Hon. Ramon GAVIOLA
G.R. No. 74695, September 14, 1993


Brigido Alvarado executed a notarial will entitled, “Huling Habilin” wherein he disinherited an illegitimate son, Cesar Alvarado, and expressly revoked a previously executed a holographic will at the time awaiting probate before RTC. As testified to by the three instrumental witnesses, the notary public and Cesar, the testator did not read the final draft of the will, instead, Atty. Rino, as the lawyer who drafted the document read the same aloud in the presence of the testator, the three instrumental witnesses and the notary public. While the testator’s will was admitted to probate, a codicil was subsequently executed changing some dispositions in the notarial will to generate cash for the testator’s eye operation because he was then suffering from glaucoma. But the disinheritance and the revocatory clauses remained and as in the case of the notarial will, the testator did not personally read the final draft of the codicil. Instead, it was Atty. Rino who read it alound in his presence and in the presence of the three instrumental witnesses and of the notary public. Upon the testator’s death, Atty Rino as executor filed a petition for probate of the notarial will which was in turn opposed by Cesar alleging that the will sought to be probated was not executed and attested as required by law. Upon failure of Cesar to substantiate his Opposition, a Probate Order was issued from which an appeal was made to IAC stating that the probate of the deceased’s last will and codicil should have been denied because the testator was blind within the meaning of the law at the time his “Huling Habilin” and the codicil thereto was executed;and that since reading required by Art. 808 was admittedly not complied with. CA concluded that although Art. 808 was not followed, there was, however, as substantial compliance.


  1. Whether or not Brigido Alvarado was blind within the meaning of Article 808 at the time his “Huling Habilin” and codicil were executed.

  2. If so, whether or not the requirement of double-reading in said Article was complied with such that whether or not, they were validly executed.


Art. 808 applies not only to blind testators but also to those who, for one reason or another, are “incapable of reading their wills. Since the deceased was incapable of reading the final drafts of his will and codicil on the separate occasions of their execution due to his “poor,” “defective,” or “blurred” vision, there can be no other course but to conclude that he comes within the scope of the term “blind’ as used in Art. 808. Unless the contents were read to him, he had no way of ascertaining whether or not the lawyer who drafted the will and codicil did so conformably with his instruction. Hence, to consider his will as validly executed and entitled to probate, it is essential to ascertain whether or not Art. 808 had been complied with.

There is no evidence and Cesar does not allege that the contents of the will and codicil were not sufficiently made known and communicated to the testator. On the contrary, with respect to the “Huling Habilin,” the day of the execution was not the first time that the testator had affirmed the truth and authenticity of the contents of the draft. Moreover, with four persons following the reading word for word with their own copies, it can be safely concluded that the testator was reasonably assured that what was read to him were the terms actually appearing on the typewritten documents. This is especially true considering the fact that the three instrumental witnesses were persons known to the testator.

The spirit behind that law was served though the letter was not. Although there should be strict compliance with the substantial requirements of the law in order to insure authenticity of the will, the formal imperfection should be brushed aside when they do not affect its purpose and which, when taken into account may only defeat the testator’s will. Substantial compliance is acceptable where the purpose of the law has been satisfied, the reason being that the solemnities surrounding the execution of will are intended to protect the testator from all kinds of fraud and trickery but are never intended to be so rigid and inflexible as to destroy the testamentary privilege.

Ruben AUSTRIA et al., petitioners, vs.
Hon. Andres REYES, et al., respondents.
G.R. No. L-23079, February 27, 1970


Basilia Austria filed with the CFI of Rizal a petition for probate ante mortem of her last will and testament which was opposed by Ruben Austria and others who are nephews and nieces of Basilia. However, such opposition was dismissed and the probate was allowed after due hearing. The bulk of the estate was destined under the will to pass on the Perfecto Cruz and others whom had been assumed and declared by Basilia as her own legally adopted children. Subsequently, upon Basilia’s death, Perfecto was appointed executor in accordance with the provisions of the former’s will. Ruben and the other petitioners filed in the same proceedings a petition in intervention for partition alleging in substance that they are the nearest kin and that the five private respondents (Perfecto et al.) had not in fact been adopted by the testator in accordance with law, hence they should be rendered mere strangers and without any right to succeed as heirs. The court then allowed the said intervention by petitioners which the court delimited to the properties of the deceased which were not disposed of in the will and disregarded the matter of the genuineness of adoption. Upon denial of two motions for reconsiderations, the petitioners filed before the Supreme Court a petition for certiorari praying for the annulment of the lower court’s orders restricting their intervention.


Whether or not the institution of heirs would retain efficacy in the event there exists proof that the adoption of the same heirs by the decedent is false.


Article 850 provides:

The statement of a false cause for the institution of an heir shall be considered as not written, unless it appears from the will of the testator would not have made such institution if he had known the falsity of such cause.

Before the institution of heirs may be annulled under Art. 850, the following requisites must concur:

  1. The cause for the institution heirs must be stated in the will;

  2. The cause must be shown to be false; and

  3. It must appear from the face of the will that the testator would not have made such institution if he had known the falsity of the cause.

The article quoted above is a positive injunction to ignore whatever false cause the testator may have written in his will for the institution of heirs. Such institution may be annulled only when one is satisfied, after an examination of the will, that the testator clearly would not have made the institution of he had known the cause for it to be false. The words used in her will to describe the class of heirs instituted and the abstract object of the inheritance offer no absolute indication that the decedent would have willed her estate other than the way she did if she had known that she was not bound by law to make allowance for legitimes. Her disposition of the free portion of her estate which largely favored Cruz, et al. shows a perceptible inclination on her part to give to the respondents more than what she thought the law enjoined her to give to them. Testacy is favored and doubts are resolved on its side, especially where the will evinces an intention on the part of the testator to dispose of practically his whole estate. Moreover, so compelling is the principle that intestacy should be avoided and the wishes of the testator allowed to prevail, that we could even vary the language of the will for the purpose of giving it effect.

In the Matter of the summary settlement of the Estate of the decease Anacleta Abellana
petitioner-appellee vs.
Eusebia ABELLANA, et al.,
G.R. No. L-15153, August 31, 1960


The last Will and Testament sought to be probated consists in two (2) typewritten pages. The first page is signed by Juan Bello and on the left margin appears the signatures of the three (3) instrumental witnesses. On the second page appears the signature of said witnesses, at the bottom of which appears the signature of the notary public and below said signature is his designation as notary public. On the left margin of the second page (last page of the will) appears the signature of Juan Bello under whose name appears handwritten the phrase, “Por la Testadore Anacleta Abellana” (For the Testate of Anacleta Abellana). The will is duly acknowledged before the notary public.


Whether or not the signature of Juan Bello above the typewritten statement, “Por la Testadora Anacleta Abellana” comply with the requirements of law prescribing the manner in which a will shall be executed.


Article 805 of the Civil Code provides:

Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end there of by the testator himself or by the testator’s name written by some other person in his presence, and by his express direction and attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another.

The law requires that the testator himself sign the will, or if he cannot do so, the testator’s name must be written by some other person in his presence and by his express direction. In this case, the name of the testatrix, Anacleta Abellana does not appear written under the will by said Abellana herself, or by Dr. Juan Bello. There is therefore, a failure to comply with the express requirement in the law that the testator must himself sign the will, or that his name be affixed thereto by some other person in his presence and by his express direction. Hence, the will of the deceased Anacleta Abellana must not be admitted to probate.

Maria Gervacio BLAS, et al., plaintiffs-appellants vs.
Rosalina SANTOS, in her capacity as Special Administratix of the
Estate of the deceased Maxima Santos, et al.,
G.R. No. L-14070, March 29, 1961


Simeon Blas contracted a first marriage with Marta Cruz and had three children, only one of whom, Eulalio, left children namely: Maria Gervacio Blas (one of the plaintiffs), Marta Gervacio Blas (one of the defendants), and Lazaro Gervacio Blas. Lazaro died and is survived by three legitimate children who are plaintiffs herein namely, Manuel, Leoncio and Loid. Subsequently after Marta’s death, Simeon contracted a second marriage with Maxima Santos. At the time of second marriage, no liquidation of the properties of Simeon and Marta was made. A week before Simeon’s death, he executed a last Will and Testament, and he also ordered a preparation of a document (Exhibit A) because the properties he had acquired during his first marriage with Mart had not been liquidated and were not separated from those acquired during the second marriage. Such document contains promises by Maxima to respect the disposition of said will and to give one-half (1/2) of the properties she and her husband will leave to the heirs, legatees or beneficiaries named in the will. Pursuant to this document, the plaintiffs instituted an action against the administration of the estate of Maxima Santos to secure a judicial declaration that one-half (1/2) of the properties left by Maxima be adjudicated to them. Upon filing of opposition by the administratix, the trial court dismissed the complaint. Hence, this appeal.


  1. Whether or not the heirs of Simeon Blas and wife Marta Cruz can make any claim for the unliquidated conjugal properties acquired during their marriage.

  2. Whether or not “Exhibit A” is a valid and enforceable contract.


The heirs of Simeon Blas and his wife Marta Cruz can no longer make any claim for the unliquidated conjugal properties acquired during said first marriage because the same were already included in the mass properties constituting the estate of the deceased Simeon Blas and in the adjudications made by virtue of his will.

Exhibit A appears to be the compromise defined in Article 1809 of the Civil Code of Spain, in force at the time of the execution of such document, which provides as follows:

Compromise is a contract by which each of the parties in interest, by giving, promising, or retaining something avoids the provocation of a suitor terminates one which has already provocation been instituted.

The agreement or promise that Maxima Santos made in Exhibit A is to hold one-half of her share in the conjugal assets in trust for the heirs and legatees of her husband in his will, with the obligation of conveying the same to such of his heirs or legatees as she may choose in her last will and testament. This kind of agreement pr promise is not void.

Wencesla CACHO, petitioner-appellee vs.
John G. UDAN and Rustico G. UDAN, oppositors-appellants.
G.R. No. L-19996, April 30, 1965


Silvina Udan, single, died leaving a will naming her son Francisco and one Wencesla Cacho as her sole heirs, share and share alike. Cacho then filed a petition to probate the said Will which was opposed by the testator’s legitimate brother, Rustico. Therafter, Francisco filed his opposition to the probate of the Will while Rustico withdrew his opposition. After Francisco’s death, another legitimate brother of the testator, John, together with Rustico, filed their respective oppositions. Consequently, Cacho filed a Motion to Dismiss the Oppositions filed by John and Rustico. CFI issued an order disallowing the two oppositions for lack of interest in the estate. The subsequent Motions for Reconsiderations were denied hence, this appeal.

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