Preterition inapplicable if no will

In the case of Heirs of Ureta, Sr. v. Heirs of Ureta (G.R. No. 165748, September 14, 2011), the Heirs of Alfonso were of the position that the absence of the Heirs of Policronio in the partition or the lack of authority of their representative results, at the very least, in their preterition and not in the invalidity of the entire deed of partition. Assuming there was actual preterition, it did not render the Deed of Extra-Judicial Partition voidable. Citing Article 1104 of the Civil Code, they aver that a partition made with preterition of any of the compulsory heirs shall not be rescinded, but the heirs shall be proportionately obliged to pay the share of the person omitted. Thus, the Deed of Extra-Judicial Partition should not have been annulled by the CA. Instead, it should have ordered the share of the heirs omitted to be given to them.

The Heirs of Alfonso also argued that all that remains to be adjudged is the right of the preterited heirs to represent their father, Policronio, and be declared entitled to his share. They contend that remand to the RTC is no longer necessary as the issue is purely legal and can be resolved by the provisions of the Civil Code for there is no dispute that each of Alfonso's heirs received their rightful share. Conrado, who received Policronio's share, should then fully account for what he had received to his other co-heirs and be directed to deliver their share in the inheritance.

These arguments cannot be given credence.

Their posited theory on preterition is no longer viable. It has already been determined that the Heirs of Policronio gave their consent to the Deed of Extra-Judicial Partition and they have not been excluded from it. Nonetheless, even granting that the Heirs of Policronio were denied their lawful participation in the partition, the argument of the Heirs of Alfonso would still fail.

Preterition under Article 854 of the Civil Code is as follows:

Art. 854.The preterition or omission of one, some, or all of the compulsory heirs in the direct line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will or born after the death of the testator, shall annul the institution of heir; but the devises and legacies shall be valid insofar as they are not inofficious.

If the omitted compulsory heirs should die before the testator, the institution shall be effectual, without prejudice to the right of representation.

Preterition has been defined as the total omission of a compulsory heir from the inheritance. It consists in the silence of the testator with regard to a compulsory heir, omitting him in the testament, either by not mentioning him at all, or by not giving him anything in the hereditary property but without expressly disinheriting him, even if he is mentioned in the will in the latter case. Preterition is thus a concept of testamentary succession and requires a will. In the case at bench, there is no will involved. Therefore, preterition cannot apply.

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