Civil Law

Herodotus Acebedo vs Bernardo Abesamis

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G.R. No. 102380 – 217 SCRA 186 – Civil Law – Law on Property – Partition – Co-ownership – Sale of a Portion of an Estate Subject to Partition

Remedial Law – Special Proceedings – Settlement of estate of deceased persons – Rule 89 – Approval of Sale involving portions of the estate is within the jurisdiction of the probate court

Herodotus Acebedo and 7 others were left an estate consisting of real properties in Quezon City and Caloocan City. Acebedo became the administrator pending probate proceedings. In the meantime, the estate is owned in common by the heirs.

The proceedings pended for 16 years with the court. Miguel Acebedo et al (respondents) then filed a Motion for Approval of Sale for them to sell their shares from the estate. The court approved the motion. Respondents were able to find a buyer in the person of Yu Hwa Ping who agreed to buy the properties for P12 Million. He paid P6 million as earnest money.

Acebedo assailed the approval of the sale claiming that the price is quite low. The court ordered Miguel et al to find a higher bidder within a specified time frame which was later extended to 7 months but still no other buyer could provide better terms.

Finally, it was agreed by the parties that respondents sell their share to the price already agreed upon with Ping and that Acebedo can negotiate his price with Ping. But Acebedo still filed a Supplemental Opposition against the approval of the conditional sale.

The court affirmed the approval of the sale and ordered Acebedo to sell his share at the same rate that the other heirs sold their share to Ping.

ISSUE: Whether or not the other heirs can sell their shares of the estate prior to adjudication.

HELD: Yes. An heir can sell his share without final adjudication. An heir is a co-owner of the property (estate) before adjudication.

Although the Rules of Court do not specifically state that the sale of an immovable property belonging to an estate of a decedent, in a special proceeding, should be made with the approval of the court, this authority is necessarily included in its capacity as a probate court. Therefore, it is clear that the probate court in the case at bar, acted within its jurisdiction in issuing the Order approving the Deed of Conditional Sale.

The right of an heir to dispose of the decedent’s property, even if the same is under administration, is based on the Civil Code provision stating that the possession of hereditary property is deemed transmitted to the heir without interruption and from the moment of the death of the decedent, in case the inheritance is accepted. Where there are however, two or more heirs, the whole estate of the decedent is, before its partition, owned in common by such heirs.

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