Venue of settlement of estate

The venue of proceedings in the settlement of estate of a decedent shall be determined by whether he is an inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of death.

Whether alien or citizen, if the decedent is an inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of death, the venue lies in the province where he resided at the time of death. If he is an inhabitant of a foreign country at the time of death, the venue lies in the province where his estate is located.

Inhabitants of the Philippines are either aliens or citizens.

In Rule 73, the word "jurisdiction" is used but it shall mean venue because jurisdiction is conferred by law while venue is a matter of procedure. The Supreme Court, by its rule-making power, does not have the authority to define the jurisdiction of courts.

What does the term 'resides' mean? Does it refer to the actual residence or domicile of the decedent at the time of his death?

We lay down the doctrinal rule that the term 'resides' connotes ex vi termini 'actual residence' as distinguished from 'legal residence or domicile.' This term 'resides,' like the terms 'residing' and 'residence' is elastic and should be interpreted in the light of the object or purposes of the statute or rule in which it is employed.

In the application of venue statutes and rules - Section 1, Rule 73 of the Revised Rules of Court is of such nature - residence rather than domicile is the significant factor. Even where the statute uses the word 'domicile' still it is construed as meaning residence and not domicile in the technical sense. Some cases make a distinction between the terms 'residence' and 'domicile' but as generally used in statutes fixing venue, the terms are synonymous, and convey the same meaning as the term 'inhabitant.' In other words, 'resides' should be viewed or understood in its popular sense, meaning, the personal, actual or physical habitation of a person, actual residence or place of abode. It signifies physical presence in a place and actual stay thereat. In this popular sense, the term means merely residence, that is, personal residence, not legal residence or domicile. Residence simply requires bodily presence as an inhabitant in a given place, while domicile requires bodily presence in that place and also an intention to make it one's domicile. No particular length of time of residence is required though; however, the residence must be more than temporary. (G.R. No. 159507. April 19, 2006)