G.R. No. L-48840, 29 December 1943, 74:479


It appears that on August 26, 1931, Victorino L. Guevara executed a will, apparently with all the formalities of the law. On September 27, 1933, he died. His last will and testament, however, was never presented to the court for probate, nor has any administration proceeding ever been instituted for the settlement of his estate. Ever since the death of Victorino L. Guevara, his only legitimate son Ernesto M. Guevara appears to have possessed the land adjudicated to him in the registration proceeding and to have disposed of various portions thereof for the purpose of paying the debts left by his father.

In the meantime Rosario Guevara, who appears to have had her father’s last will and testament in her custody, presented the will to the court, not for the purpose of having it probated but only to prove that the deceased Victirino L. Guevara had acknowledged her as his natural daughter. Upon that proof of acknowledgment she claimed her share of the inheritance from him, but on the theory or assumption that he died intestate, because the will had not been probated, for which reason, she asserted, the betterment therein made by the testator in favor of his legitimate son Ernesto M. Guevara should be disregarded. Both the trial court and the Court of appeals sustained that theory.


Whether or not probate is necessary for Rosario to be able to claim her legitime as an acknowledged natural daughter.


In the instant case there is no showing that the various legatees other than the present litigants had received their respective legacies or that they had knowledge of the existence and of the provisions of the will. Their right under the will cannot be disregarded, nor may those rights be obliterated on account of the failure or refusal of the custodian of the will to present it to the court for probate.

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.

*Case digest by Jan Ruthella Flor S. Tacbaya, LLB-IV, Andres Bonifacio College Law School, SY 2018-2019