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G.R. No. 224144 – 828 SCRA 482 – 811 Phil. 861 – Remedial Law – Special Proceedings – Settlement of Estate – Jurisdiction of Probate Courts; No need for a separate proceeding for declaration of heirship for purposes of asserting right as an heir; Successional rights start upon the death of the decedent
In 1937, a 6,000 square meter lot was sold to Andres Bas and Pedro Bas.
In 1939, Pedro sold his share to Faustina Manreal. Thereafter, the same share was transferred to others either by way of inheritance or sale until the same was sold to Norberto Bas. When Norberto died in 1995, the same portion was inherited by Lolita Capablanca.
Lolita tried to register her property but her application for registration was denied. Lolita learned that the title pertaining to the 6,000 square meter lot was partially cancelled. Lolita then filed a complaint for the annulment of the subsequent titles.
The Heirs of Pedro Bas, in one of their grounds in objecting to the complaint filed by Lolita, raised the argument that Lolita must first seek judicial declaration that she is an heir of Norberto before she may file the action for annulment.
ISSUE: Whether or not the contention of the Heirs of Pedro Bas is correct.
HELD: No. There is no need for a separate proceeding for a declaration of heirship in order to resolve Lolita’s action for cancellation of titles of the property. The dispute in this case is not about the heirship of Lolita to Norberto. No judicial declaration of heirship is necessary in order that an heir may assert his or her right to the property of the deceased.
The right to assert a cause of action as an heir, although he has not been judicially declared to be so, if duly proven, is well settled in this jurisdiction. This is upon the theory that the property of a deceased person, both real and personal, becomes the property of the heir by the mere fact of death of his predecessor in interest, and as such he can deal with it in precisely the same way in which the deceased could have dealt, subject only to the limitations which by law or by contract may be imposed upon the deceased himself.