Austria vs. Reyes

Posted: March 6, 2017 in case digests, succession
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Austria vs. Reyes

G.R. No. L-23079 | 1970-02-27

By: Karen P. Lustica

 

Facts: Basilia Austria vda. de Cruz filed with the CIF of Rizal  a petition for probate, ante mortem, of her last will and testament. The probate was opposed by the present petitioners. This opposition was dismissed and the probate of the will was allowed after due hearing.

 

The bulk of the estate of Basilia, admittedly, was destined under the will to pass on to the respondents all of whom had been assumed and declared by Basilia as her own legally adopted children.

 

More than two years after her will was allowed to probate, Basilia died. The respondent Perfecto Cruz was appointed executor without bond by the same court in accordance with the provisions of the decedent’s will, notwithstanding the blocking attempt pursued by the petitioner Ruben Austria.

 

Finally, the present petitioners filed in the same proceedings a petition in intervention for partition alleging in substance that they are the nearest of kin of Basilia, and that the five respondents Perfecto Cruz, et al., had not in fact been adopted by the decedent in accordance with law, in effect rendering these respondents mere strangers to the decedent and without any right to succeed as heirs.

 

Issue: WON the institution of the heirs would retain efficacy in the event there exists proof that the adoption of the same heirs by the decedent was false

 

Held: YES.

 

Ratio: Article 850 of the Civil Code which reads, “The statement of a false cause for the institution of an heir shall be considered as not written, unless it appears from the will that the testator would not have made such institution if he had known the falsity of such cause.”

 

Before the institution of heirs may be annulled under article 850 of the Civil Code, the following requisites must concur: First, the cause for the institution of heirs must be stated in the will; second, the cause must be shown to be false; and third, it must appear from the face of the will that the testator would not have made such institution if he had known the falsity of the cause.

 

From the use of the terms, “sapilitang tagapagmana” (compulsory heirs) and “sapilitang mana” (legitime), that the impelling reason or cause for the institution of the respondents was the testatrix’s belief that under the law she could not do otherwise. If this were indeed what prompted the testatrix in instituting the respondents, she did not make it known in her will. Surely if she was aware that succession to the legitime takes place by operation of law, independent of her own wishes, she would not have found it convenient to name her supposed compulsory heirs to their legitimes. Her express adoption of the rules on legitimes should very well indicate her complete agreement with that statutory scheme. But even this, like the petitioners’ own proposition, is highly speculative of what was in the mind of the testatrix when she executed her will. One fact prevails, however, and it is that the decedent’s will does not state in a specific or unequivocal manner the cause for such institution of heirs. We cannot annul the same on the basis of guesswork or uncertain implications.

 

The phrases, “mga sapilitang tagapagmana” and “sapilitang mana,” were borrowed from the language of the law on succession and were used, respectively, to describe the class of heirs instituted and the abstract object of the inheritance. They offer no absolute indication that the decedent would have willed her estate other than the way she did if she had known that she was not bound by law to make allowance for legitimes. Her disposition of the free portion of her estate (libre disposicion) which largely favored the respondent Perfecto Cruz, the latter’s children, and the children of the respondent Benita Cruz, shows a perceptible inclination on her part to give to the respondents more than what she thought the law enjoined her to give to them. Compare this with the relatively small devise of land which the decedent had left for her blood relatives, including the petitioners Consuelo Austria-Benta and Lauro Mozo and the children of the petitioner Ruben Austria. Were we to exclude the respondents Perfecto Cruz, et al. from the inheritance, then the petitioners and the other nephews and nieces would succeed to the bulk of the testate by intestacy — a result which would subvert the clear wishes of the decedent.

 

Dispositive: The present petition is denied, at petitioners cost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank vs. Escolin

G.R. No. L- 27860 and 27896 | 1974-03-29

By: Karen P. Lustica

 

Facts: Linnie Jane Hodges, an American citizen from Texas, died in Iloilo City leaving a will executed on November 22, 1952

 

In her will, she left all her estate in favor of Charles Newton Hodges, her husband. She also stated in her will that should Charles later die, the said estate shall be turned over to her brother and sister.

 

Charles died while domiciled here. The lawyer of Charles filed a motion before the probate court while there was an ongoing probate on the will of Linnie so that a certain Avelina Magno may be appointed as the administratrix of the estate. Magno was the most trusted employee of the Hodges when they were alive and who had been employed for around thirty (30) years. It was manifested that Charles himself left a will but the same was in an iron trunk in Charles’ office. The judge approved the appointment of Magno as administratrix.

 

Charles’ will was found and so a new petition for probate was filed for the said will. Magno opposed the said petition. The probate of Charles’ will was granted. The Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank was appointed the administrator. Magno refused to turn over the estate.

 

Magno arugued that in her will, Linnie wanted Charles to turn over the property to Linnie’s brother and sister. Magno also contended that Linnie was a Texan at the time of her death and that under Article 16 of the Civil Code, successional rights are governed by Linnie’s national law. Under the Texas law, Linnie’s will shall be respected regardless of the presence of legitimes.

 

PCIB applied the renvoi doctrine –  the law of Texas refers the matter back to Philippine laws because Linnie was domiciled outside Texas at the time of her death.

 

Issues:

 

  1. WON there is a testamentary substitution.
  2. WON the Texas Law should apply

 

Held:

 

  1. NO.
  2. NO.

 

 

 

 

Ratio:

 

  1. We overrule PCIB’s contention that the provision in Mrs. Hodges’ will in favor of her brothers and sisters constitutes ineffective hereditary substitutions. But neither are We sustaining, on the other hand, Magno’s pose that it gave Hodges only a lifetime usufruct. We hold that by said provision, Mrs. Hodges simultaneously instituted her brothers and sisters as co-heirs with her husband, with the condition, however, that the latter would have complete rights of dominion over the whole estate during his lifetime and what would go to the former would be only the remainder thereof at the time of Hodges’ death. In other words, whereas they are not to inherit only in case of default of Hodges, on the other hand, Hodges was not obliged to preserve anything for them. Clearly then, the essential elements of testamentary substitution are absent; the provision in question is a simple case of conditional simultaneous institution of heirs, whereby the institution of Hodges is subject to a partial resolutory condition the operative contingency of which is coincidental with that of the suspensive condition of the institution of his brothers and sisters-in-law, which manner of institution is not prohibited by law.

 

  1. We also hold, however, that the estate of Mrs. Hodges inherited by her brothers and sisters could be more than just stated, but this would depend on (1) whether upon the proper application of the principle of renvoi in relation to Article 16 of the Civil Code and the pertinent laws of Texas, it will appear that Hodges had no legitime as contended by Magno, and (2) whether or not it can be held that Hodges had legally and effectively renounced his inheritance from his wife. Under the circumstances presently obtaining and in the state of the record of these cases, as of now, the Court is not in a position to make a final ruling, whether of fact or of law, on any of these two issues, and We, therefore, reserve said issues for further proceedings and resolution in the first instance by the court a quo, as hereinabove indicated. We reiterate, however, that pending such further proceedings, as matters stand at this stage, Our considered opinion is that it is beyond cavil that since, under the terms of the will of Mrs. Hodges, her husband could not have anyway legally adjudicated or caused to be adjudicated to himself her whole share of their conjugal partnership, albeit he could have disposed any part thereof during his lifetime, the resulting estate of Mrs. Hodges, of which Magno is the uncontested administratrix, cannot be less than one-fourth of the conjugal partnership properties, as of the time of her death, minus what, as explained earlier, have been gratuitously disposed of therefrom, by Hodges in favor of third persons since then, for even if it were assumed that, as contended by PCIB, under Article 16 of the Civil Code and applying renvoi the laws of the Philippines are the ones ultimately applicable, such one-fourth share would be her free disposable portion, taking into account already the legitime of her husband under Article 900 of the Civil Code.

 

 

Dispositive: IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING PREMISES, judgment is hereby rendered DISMISSING the petition.

 

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