G.R. No. L-23678, 6 June 1967
Amos Bellis, born in Texas, was a citizen of the State of Texas and of the United States. He had 5 legitimate children with his wife, Mary Mallen, whom he had divorced, 3 legitimate children with his 2nd wife, Violet Kennedy and finally, 3 illegitimate children.
Prior to his death, Amos Bellis executed a will in the Philippines in which his distributable estate should be divided in trust in the following order and manner:
a. $240,000 to his 1st wife Mary Mallen;
b. P120,000 to his 3 illegitimate children at P40,000 each;
c. The remainder shall go to his surviving children by his 1st and 2nd wives, in equal shares.
Subsequently, Amos Bellis died a resident of San Antonio, Texas, USA. His will was admitted to probate in the Philippines. The People’s Bank and Trust Company, an executor of the will, paid the entire bequest therein.
Preparatory to closing its administration, the executor submitted and filed its “Executor’s Final Account, Report of Administration and Project of Partition” where it reported, inter alia, the satisfaction of the legacy of Mary Mallen by the shares of stock amounting to $240,000 delivered to her, and the legacies of the 3 illegitimate children in the amount of P40,000 each or a total of P120,000. In the project partition, the executor divided the residuary estate into 7 equal portions for the benefit of the testator’s 7 legitimate children by his 1st and 2nd marriages.
Among the 3 illegitimate children, Mari Cristina and Miriam Palma Bellis filed their respective opposition to the project partition on the ground that they were deprived of their legitimes as illegitimate children.
The lower court denied their respective motions for reconsideration.
Which law must apply – Texas Law or Philippine Law?
YES. Order of the probate court is hereby affirmed.
Doctrine of Processual Presumption:
The foreign law, whenever applicable, should be proved by the proponent thereof, otherwise, such law shall be presumed to be exactly the same as the law of the forum.
In the absence of proof as to the conflict of law rule of Texas, it should not be presumed different from ours. Apply Philippine laws.
Article 16, par. 2, and Art. 1039 of the Civil Code, render applicable the national law of the decedent, in intestate or testamentary successions, with regard to four items: (a) the order of succession; (b) the amount of successional rights; (e) the intrinsic validity of the provisions of the will; and (d) the capacity to succeed. They provide that —ART. 16. Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the country where it is situated.
However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the order of succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever may be the nature of the property and regardless of the country wherein said property may be found.
ART. 1039. Capacity to succeed is governed by the law of the nation of the decedent.
The parties admit that the decedent, Amos G. Bellis, was a citizen of the State of Texas, U.S.A., and that under the laws of Texas; there are no forced heirs or legitimes. Accordingly, since the intrinsic validity of the provision of the will and the amount of successional rights are to be determined under Texas law, the Philippine law on legitimes cannot be applied to the testacy of Amos G. Bellis.
* Case digest by Liezel O. Lagare, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018