G.R. No. L-34395, 19 May 1981, 104 SCRA 479


Benito Legarda y De la Paz, the son of Benito Legarda y Tuason, died [Manila] on June 17, 1933. He was survived by his widow, Filomena Races, and their seven children: four daughters and three sons.

The real properties left by Benito Legarda y Tuason were partitioned in three equal portions by his daughters, Consuelo and Rita, and the heirs of his deceased son Benito Legarda y De la Paz who were represented by Benito F. Legarda. Filomena Legarda y Races died intestate and without issue. Her sole heiress was her mother, Filomena Races Vda. de Legarda.

Mrs. Legarda executed an affidavit adjudicating extrajudicially to herself the properties which she inherited from her deceased daughter, Filomena Legarda. As a result of the affidavit of adjudication, Filomena Races succeeded her deceased daughter Filomena Legarda as co-owner of the properties held pro indiviso by her other six children. Mrs. Legarda executed two handwritten Identical documents wherein she disposed of the properties, which she inherited from her daughter, in favor of the children of her sons, Benito, Alejandro and Jose (sixteen grandchildren in all).

Mrs. Legarda and her six surviving children partitioned the properties consisting of the one-third share in the estate of Benito Legarda y Tuason which the children inherited in representation of their father, Benito Legarda y De la Paz.

Mrs. Legarda died and her will was admitted to probate as a holographic will. In the testate proceeding, Beatriz Legarda Gonzales, a daughter of the testatrix, filed a motion to exclude from the inventory of her mother’s estate the properties which she inherited from her deceased daughter, Filomena, on the ground that said properties are reservable properties which should be inherited by Filomena Legarda’s three sisters and three brothers and not by the children of Benito, Alejandro and Jose, all surnamed Legarda.


Whether the properties in question are subject to reserva troncal.


In reserve troncal (1) a descendant inherited or acquired by gratuitous title property from an ascendant or from a brother or sister; (2) the same property is inherited by another ascendant or is acquired by him by operation of law from the said descendant, and (3) the said ascendant should reserve the said property for the benefit of relatives who are within the third degree from the deceased descendant (prepositus) and who belong to the line from which the said property came.

So, three transmissions are involved: (I) a first transmission by lucrative title (inheritance or donation) from an ascendant or brother or sister to the deceased descendant; (2) a posterior transmission, by operation of law (intestate succession or legitime) from the deceased descendant (causante de la reserve) in favor of another ascendant, the reservor or reservista, which two transmissions precede the reservation, and (3) a third transmissions of the same property (in consequence of the reservation) from the reservor to the reservees (reservatarios) or the relatives within the third degree from the deceased descendant belonging to the line of the first ascendant, brother or sister of the deceased descendant. If there are only two transmissions there is no reserve.

The persons involved in reserve troncal are (1) the ascendant or brother or sister from whom the property was received by the descendant by lucrative or gratuitous title, (2) the descendant or prepositus (prepositus) who received the property, (3) the reservor (reservista) the other ascendant who obtained the property from the (prepositus) by operation of law and (4) the reserves (reservatario) who is within the third degree from the prepositus and who belongs to the (line o tronco) from which the property came and for whom the property should be reserved by the reservor.

The reservees may be half-brothers and sisters. Fourth degree relatives are not included. The person from whom the degree should be reckoned is the descendant, or the one at the end of the line from which the property came and upon whom the property last revolved by descent. He is called the prepositus.
First cousins of the prepositus are in the fourth degree and are not reservees. They cannot even represent their parents because representation is confined to relatives within the third degree. Within the third degree, the nearest relatives exclude the more remote subject to the rule of representation. But the representative should be within the third degree from the prepositus. Reserva troncal contemplates legitimate relationship. illegitimate relationship and relationship by affinity are excluded.

The reserva creates two resolutory conditions, namely, (1) the death of the ascendant obliged to reserve and (2) the survival, at the time of his death, of relatives within the third degree belonging to the line from which the property came.

The reservor has the legal title and dominion to the reservable property but subject to the resolutory condition that such title is extinguished if the reservor predeceased the reservee. The reservor is a usufructuary of the reservable property. He may alienate it subject to the reservation. The transferee gets the revocable and conditional ownership of the reservor. The transferee’s rights are revoked upon the survival of the reservees at the time of the death of the reservor but become indefeasible when the reservees predecease the reservor.

Hence, upon the reservista’s death, the reservatario nearest to the prepositus becomes, “automatically and by operation of law, the owner of the reservable property.” In the instant case, the properties in question were indubitably reservable properties in the hands of Mrs. Legarda. Undoubtedly, she was a reservor. The reservation became a certainty when at the time of her death the reservees or relatives within the third degree of the prepositus Filomena Legarda were living or they survived Mrs. Legarda.

*Case digest by Geraldine M. Cabucos, LLB-IV, Andres Bonifacio College Law School, SY 2018-2019