Jurisdiction over settlement of estate

The exclusive original jurisdiction over all matters of probate, both testate and intestate, is exercised either by the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) or the Regional Trial Court (RTC), depending on the gross value of the estate.

Outside Metro Manila, the MTC shall have jurisdiction if gross value of the estate does not exceed P300,000; if it exceeds such value, then the RTC shall have jurisdiction.

Withinn Metro Manila, if the estate's gross value does not exceed P400,000, it shall be the MTC; otherwise, it is the RTC.

The court first taking cognizance of the case shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts and cannot be divested by subsequent acts of the parties. Testate proceedings take precedence over intestate proceedings of the same estate because the law prefers testacy over intestacy. Therefore, if, in the course of intestate proceedings pending before a court, it is found that the decedent had left a last will and testament, proceedings for the probate of said will must be commenced.

It does not matter whether the estate has already been distributed or whether an administrator has already been appointed. In the latter case, the administrator shall turn over the estate, its possession and administration to the executor if appointed in the will.

If the alleged last will gets disapproved or disallowed by the probate court, all shall go back to intestate proceedings. (G.R. No. L-21938)