Posts Tagged ‘Austria vs. Reyes’

Austria vs. Reyes

G.R. No. L-23079 | 1970-02-27 – Karen

 

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.