Extent of probate court's jurisdiction

A probate court is one exercising limited jurisdiction. It is limited in the sense that the law tasks it with the determination and resolution of certain issues only. This has similarity to an ejectment court which can only determine which party has the better right to possess the property and cannot pass upon issues of ownership.

A probate court is allowed only to determine and rule upon issues relating to the settlement of estates namely:

[1] Whether the will is a the last will of the testator;
[2] Whether the will complies with all the formalities required by law;
[3] Whether the testator had capacity to execute the will;
[4] How and who should administer the estate;
[5] How to liquidate the estate; and
[4] How to distribute the net estate to the heirs.

It is well-settled rule that a probate court or one in charge of proceedings whether testate or intestate cannot adjudicate or determine title to properties claimed to be a part of the estate and which are equally claimed to belong to outside parties. All that said court could do as regards said properties is to determine whether they should or should not be included in the inventory or list of properties to be administered by the administrator. If there is no dispute, well and good; but if there is, then the parties, the administrator, and the opposing parties have to resort to an ordinary action for a final determination of the conflicting claims of title because the probate court cannot do so. x x x (G.R. No. 144915. February 23, 2004)