Donation of real estate propter nuptias in a public instrument

We now focus on the crux of the petition, which is the validity of the deed of donation. It is settled that only laws existing at the time of the execution of a contract are applicable to it and not the later statutes, unless the latter are specifically intended to have retroactive effect. Accordingly, the Old Civil Code applies in this case as the donation propter nuptias was executed in 1919, while the New Civil Code took effect only on August 30, 1950. Under the Old Civil Code, donations propter nuptias must be made in a public instrument in which the property donated must be specifically described. Article 1328 of the Old Civil Code provides that gifts propter nuptias are governed by the rules established in Title 2 of Book 3 of the same Code. Article 633 of that title provides that the gift of real property, in order to be valid, must appear in a public document. It is settled that a donation of real estate propter nuptias is void unless made by public instrument. In the instant case, the donation propter nuptias did not become valid. Neither did it create any right because it was not made in a public instrument. Hence, it conveyed no title to the land in question to petitioners predecessors.

Logically, then, the cancellation of OCT No. 352 and the issuance of a new TCT No. 44481 in favor of petitioners predecessors have no legal basis. The title to the subject property should, therefore, be restored to its original owners under OCT No. 352.

Direct reconveyance to any of the parties is not possible as it has not yet been determined in a proper proceeding who among the heirs of spouses Simeon Doronio and Cornelia Gante is entitled to it. It is still unproven whether or not the parties are the only ones entitled to the properties of spouses Simeon Doronio and Cornelia Gante. As earlier intimated, there are still things to be done before the legal share of all the heirs can be properly adjudicated. (G.R. No. 169454; December 27, 2007)