Remedial Law

Ernesto Guevara vs Rosario Guevara

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G.R. No. L-48840 – 74 Phil. 479 – Remedial Law – Special Proceedings – Settlement of Estate – Probate of Will – Probate is Mandatory; Heirs cannot disregard will

Civil Law – Succession – Last Will and Testament – Heirs cannot disregard will

Ernesto Guevara and Rosario Guevara were children of Victorino Guevara. Ernesto was a legitimate child while Rosario was not. Victorino died in 1933 but prior to his death, he executed a will disposing his vast property to various people including Ernesto and Rosario. Ernesto was named as the executor of the will but he never submitted the will to court for probate. Rosario had a copy of the will but she never submitted the will for probate.

In 1937, Rosario sued Ernesto for recovery of properties as she claimed that Ernesto appropriate unto himself her supposed inheritance. One of the evidence she presented against Ernesto was the will executed by their father. The purpose of the will as evidence was to prove that she was an acknowledged child of Victorino.

ISSUE: May the heirs disregard the will left by the testator?

HELD: No. The Supreme Court ruled that the case filed by Rosario was an improper remedy. If the decedent left a will and no debts and the heirs and legatees desire to make an extrajudicial partition of the estate, they must first present that will to the court for probate and divide the estate in accordance with the will. The heirs cannot do away with the presentation of the will to the court for probate, because such suppression of the will is contrary to law and public policy. The law enjoins the probate of the will and public policy requires it, because unless the will is probated and notice thereof given to the whole world, the right of a person to dispose of his property by will may be rendered nugatory.

Even if the decedent left no debts and nobody raises any question as to the authenticity and due execution of the will, none of the heirs may sue for the partition of the estate in accordance with that will without first securing its allowance or probate by the court, first, because the law expressly provides that “no will shall pass either real or personal estate unless it is proved and allowed in the proper court”; and, second, because the probate of a will, which is a proceeding in rem, cannot be dispensed with the substituted by any other proceeding, judicial or extrajudicial, without offending against public policy designed to effectuate the testator’s right to dispose of his property by will in accordance with law and to protect the rights of the heirs and legatees under the will thru the means provided by law, among which are the publication and the personal notices to each and all of said heirs and legatees. Nor may the court approve and allow the will presented in evidence in such an action for partition, which is one in personam, any more than it could decree the registration under the Torrens system of the land involved in an ordinary action for reinvindicacion or partition.

Supposed the provision of the will is contrary to law, are the heirs still obliged to submit the will for probate?

The heirs may not disregard the provisions of the will unless those provisions are contrary to law.

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