In 1986, Amanda Burgos executed a will whereby she devised a property in favor of Resurreccion Felix. Amanda died in 1986. In 1998, Felix sold the land bequeathed to her by Amanda to Spouses Isidro and Conrada Salitico.
In 2008, Amanda’s will was subjected to probate. The will was allowed by the probate court in 2009.
In 2010, the administrator of the estate of Amanda demanded Spouses Salitico to vacate the subject property. The administrator contended that the sale made by Felix was not valid because under the Rules, no will shall pass either real or personal estate unless it is proved and allowed in the proper court. Here, the devised property bequeathed to Felix has not yet passed to her because the will was not yet probated when she made the sale.
In 2011, Spouses Salitico filed a specific performance case against the heirs of Felix and the estate of Amanda.
ISSUE: Whether or not the sale is valid.
HELD: Yes. Felix was already the owner of the bequeathed property when Amanda died. Article 777 of the Civil Code, which is substantive law, states that the rights of the inheritance are transmitted from the moment of the death of the decedent. Article 777 operates at the very moment of the decedent’s death meaning that the transmission by succession occurs at the precise moment of death and, therefore, at that precise time, the heir is already legally deemed to have acquired ownership of his/her share in the inheritance, “and not at the time of declaration of heirs, or partition, or distribution.” Thus, there is no legal bar to an heir disposing of his/her hereditary share immediately after such death.
Upon the death of Amanda, Felix became the absolute owner of the devised subject property, subject to a resolutory condition that upon settlement of Amanda’s Estate, the devise is not declared inofficious or excessive. Hence, there was no legal bar preventing Felix from entering into a contract of sale with the petitioners Sps. Salitico with respect to the former’s share or interest over the subject property.
SIDE ISSUE: But may the Spouses Salitico already register the property in their name?
HELD: No. Rule 90, Section 1of the Rules of Court must be read in conjunction with Section 91 of P.D. 1529 or the Property Registration Act. It is only upon the issuance by the testate or intestate court of the final order of distribution of the estate or the order in anticipation of the final distribution that the certificate of title covering the subject property may be issued in the name of the distributees.