G.R. No. 123486, 12 August 1999, 312 SCRA 333
Evangeline Calugay, Josephine Salcedo and Eufemia Patigas, devisees and legatees of the holographic will of the deceased Matilde Seño Vda. de Ramonal, filed a petition for probate of the holographic will of the deceased.
In the petition, respondents claimed that the deceased was of sound and disposing mind when she executed the will, that there was no fraud, undue influence, and duress employed in the person of the testator, and will was written voluntarily.
Eugenia Ramonal Codoy and Manuel Ramonal filed an opposition to the petition for probate, alleging that the holographic will was a forgery and that the same is even illegible. This gives an impression that a “third hand” of an interested party other than the “true hand” of Matilde Seño Vda. de Ramonal executed the holographic will.
Petitioners argued that the repeated dates incorporated or appearing on will after every disposition is out of the ordinary. If the deceased was the one who executed the will, and was not forced, the dates and the signature should appear at the bottom after the dispositions, as regularly done and not after every disposition. And assuming that the holographic will is in the handwriting of the deceased, it was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of the beneficiaries, or through fraud and trickery.1âwphi1.nêt
Respondents presented six (6) witnesses and various documentary evidence. Petitioners instead of presenting their evidence, filed a demurrer to evidence, claiming that respondents failed to establish sufficient factual and legal basis for the probate of the holographic will of the deceased Matilde Seño Vda. de Ramonal.
Whether or not the will can be probated..
Art. 811. In the probate of a holographic will, it shall be necessary that at least one witness who knows the handwriting and signature of the testator explicitly declare that the will and the signature are in the handwriting of the testator. If the will is contested, at least three of such witnesses shall be required.
It provides as a requirement for the probate of a contested holographic will, that at least three witnesses explicitly declare that the signature in the will is the genuine signature of the testator.1âwphi1.nêThe word “shall” connotes a mandatory order. We have ruled that “shall” in a statute commonly denotes an imperative obligation and is inconsistent with the idea of discretion and that the presumption is that the word “shall,” when used in a statute is mandatory.
It will be noted that not all the witnesses presented by the respondents testified explicitly that they were familiar with the handwriting of testator.
We cannot eliminate the possibility of a false document being adjudged as the will of the testator, which is why if the holographic will is contested, that law requires three witnesses to declare that the will was in the handwriting of the deceased.
The will was found not in the personal belongings of the deceased but with one of the respondents, who kept it even before the death of the deceased.
There was no opportunity for an expert to compare the signature and the handwriting of the deceased with other documents signed and executed by her during her lifetime. holographic will. A visual examination of the holographic will convince us that the strokes are different when compared with other documents written by the testator. The signature of the testator in some of the disposition is not readable. There were uneven strokes, retracing and erasures on the will.
*Case digest by Karisina Viado, LLB-IV, Andres Bonifacio College Law School, SY 2018-2019