Testacy preferred; intestacy prevented

Article 791. The words of a will are to receive an interpretation which will give to every expression some effect, rather than one which will render any of the expressions inoperative; and of two modes of interpreting a will, that is to be preferred which will prevent intestacy. (Civil Code of the Philippines)

Article 960. Legal or intestate succession takes place: (1) If a person dies without a will, or with a void will, or one which has subsequently lost its validity; (2) When the will does not institute an heir to, or dispose of all the property belonging to the testator. In such case, legal succession shall take place only with respect to the property of which the testator has not disposed; (3) If the suspensive condition attached to the institution of heir does not happen or is not fulfilled, or if the heir dies before the testator, or repudiates the inheritance, there being no substitution, and no right of accretion takes place; (4) When the heir instituted is incapable of succeeding, except in cases provided in this Code.

It can be clearly inferred from Article 960 of the Civil Code, on the law of successional rights that testacy is preferred to intestacy. But before there could be testate distribution, the will must pass the scrutinizing test and safeguards provided by law considering that the deceased testator is no longer available to prove the voluntariness of his actions, aside from the fact that the transfer of the estate is usually onerous in nature and that no one is presumed to give — Nemo praesumitur donare. No intestate distribution of the estate can be done until and unless the will had failed to pass both its extrinsic and intrinsic validity. If the will is extrinsically void, the rules of intestacy apply regardless of the intrinsic validity thereof. If it is extrinsically valid, the next test is to determine its intrinsic validity — that is whether the provisions of the will are valid according to the laws of succession. In this case, the court had ruled that the will of Alejandro was extrinsically valid but the intrinsic provisions thereof were void. (G.R. No. 108581. December 8, 1999)

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