G.R. No. 174489, 11 April 2012, 669 SCRA 249
Paciencia was a 78 year old spinster when she made her last will and testament in the Pampango dialect on Sept. 13, 1981. The will, executed in the house of retired Judge Limpin, was read to Paciencia twice. Thereafter, Paciencia expressed in the presence of the instrumental witnesses that the document is her last will and testament. She affixed her signature at the end of the said document on page 3 and then on the left margin of pages 1, 2 and 4 thereof. Childless and without any brothers or sisters, Paciencia bequeathed all her properties to respondent Lorenzo Laxa and his wife Corazon Laxa and their children Luna and Katherine. Lorenzo is Paciencia’s nephew whom she treated as her own son. Conversely, Lorenzo came to know and treated Paciencia as his own mother.
Six days after the execution of the Will (Sept. 19, 1981), Paciencia left for USA. There, she resided with Lorenzo and his family until her death on Jan. 4, 1996. In the interim, the Will remained in the custody of Judge Limpin. More than 4 years after the death of Paciencia or on Apr. 27, 2000, Lorenzo filed a petition with the RTC of Guagua, Pampanga for the probate of the Will of Paciencia and for the issuance of Letters of Administration in his favor.
On June 23, 2000, one of petitioners, Antonio Baltazar filed an opposition to Lorenzo’s petition. Antonio averred that the properties subject of Paciencia’s will belong to Nicomeda Mangalindan, his predecessor-in-interest; hence, Paciencia had no right to bequeath them to Lorenzo. Also, one of the petitioners, Rosie Mateo testified that Paciencia is in the state of being “mangulyan” or forgetful making her unfit for executing a will and that the execution of the will had been procured by undue and improper pressure and influence.
Petitioners also opposed the issuance of the Letters of Administration in Lorenzo’s favor arguing that Lorenzo was disqualified to be appointed as such, he being a citizen and resident of the USA. Petitioners prayed that Letters of Administration be instead issued in favor of Antonio.
RTC denies the petition for probate of the will and concluded that when Paciencia signed the will, she was no longer possessed of the sufficient reason or strength of mind to have the testamentary capacity. On appeal, CA reversed the decision of the RTC and granted the probate of the will. The petitioner went up to SC for a petition for review on Certiorari.
Whether or not the authenticity and due execution of the will was sufficiently established to warrant its allowance for probate.
Yes. A careful examination of the face of the Will shows faithful compliance with the formalities laid down by law. The signatures of the testatrix, Paciencia, her instrumental witnesses and the notary public, are all present and evident on the Will. Further, the attestation clause explicitly states the critical requirement that the testatrix and her instrumental witnesses attested and subscribed to the Will in the presence of the testator and of one another. In fact, even the petitioners acceded that the signature of Paciencia in the Will may be authentic although they question of her state of mind when she signed the same as well as the voluntary nature of said act.
The burden to prove that Paciencia was of unsound mind at the time of the execution of the will lies on the shoulders of the petitioners. The SC agree with the position of the CA that the state of being forgetful does not necessarily make a person mentally unsound so as to render him unfit to execute a Will. Forgetfulness is not equivalent to being of unsound mind. Besides, Art. 799 of the NCC states: “To be of unsound mind, it is not necessary that the testator be in full possession of all his reasoning faculties, or that his mind be wholly unbroken, unimpaired, or unshattered by disease, injury or other cause. It shall be sufficient if the testator was able at the time of making the Will to know the nature of the estate to be disposed of, the proper objects of his bounty, and the character of the testamentary act.”
*Case digest by Allain Jay Gumela, LLB-IV, Andres Bonifacio College Law School, SY 2018-2019