CASE DIGEST: In Re Will of Ruperta Palaganas

G.R. No. 169144, January 26, 2011

IN RE: THE MATTER OF THE PETITION TO APPROVE THE WILL OF RUPERTA PALAGANAS WITH PRAYER FOR THE APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL ADMINISTRATOR, MANUEL MIGUEL PALAGANAS and BENJAMIN GREGORIO PALAGANAS,petitioners, vs. ERNESTO PALAGANAS, respondent.

ABAD, J.:


FACTS:

Ruperta, a Filipino was was naturalized in the U.S., died single and childless. In her last will and testament, which was executed in California, she designated her brother, Sergio, as the executor of her will. Ernesto, another brother of Ruperta, filed with the RTC ofMalolos, Bulacan, a petition for the probate of Ruperta's will and for his appointment as special administrator of her estate. Thereafter, Manuel and Benjamin, Ruperta's nephews, opposed the petition on the ground that Ruperta's will should not be probated in the Philippines but in the U.S. where she executed it.

The RTC, in its order, admitted to probate Ruperta's last will, appointed respondent Ernesto as special administrator and issued the Letters of Special Administration to Ernesto. The CA affirmed the ruling.

ISSUE: Whether the CA erred in upholding the ruling of the RTC that a will executed by a foreigner abroad may be probated in the Philippines although it has not been previously probated and allowed in the country where it was executed.

HELD: The petition is unmeritorious.

CIVIL LAW - Probate proceedings; wills and succession

Petitioners Manuel and Benjamin maintain that wills executed by foreigners abroad must first be probated and allowed in the country of its execution before it can be probated here. This, they claim, ensures prior compliance with the legal formalities of the country of its execution. They insist that local courts can only allow probate of such wills if the proponent proves that: (a) the testator has been admitted for probate in such foreign country, (b) the will has been admitted to probate there under its laws, (c) the probate court has jurisdiction over the proceedings, (d) the law on probate procedure in that foreign country and proof of compliance with the same, and (e) the legal requirements for the valid execution of a will.

But our laws do not prohibit the probate of wills executed by foreigners abroad although the same have not as yet been probated and allowed in the countries of their execution. A foreign will can be given legal effects in our jurisdiction. Article 816 of the Civil Code states that the will of an alien who is abroad produces effect in the Philippines if made in accordance with the formalities prescribed by the law of the place where he resides, or according to the formalities observed in his country.

In this connection, Section 1, Rule 73 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides that if the decedent is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the RTC of the province where he has an estate may take cognizance of the settlement of such estate. Sections 1 and 2 of Rule 76 further state that the executor, devisee, or legatee named in the will, or any other person interested in the estate, may, at any time after the death of the testator, petition the court having jurisdiction to have the will allowed, whether the same be in his possession or not, or is lost or destroyed.

Our rules require merely that the petition for the allowance of a will must show, so far as known to the petitioner: (a) the jurisdictional facts; (b) the names, ages, and residences of the heirs, legatees, and devisees of the testator or decedent; (c) the probable value and character of the property of the estate; (d) the name of the person for whom letters are prayed; and (e) if the will has not been delivered to the court, the name of the person having custody of it. Jurisdictional facts refer to the fact of death of the decedent, his residence at the time of his death in the province where the probate court is sitting, or if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the estate he left in such province. The rules do not require proof that the foreign will has already been allowed and probated in the country of its execution.

DENIED.

Popular Posts