Ortega v. Valmonte

G.R. No. 157451, 16 December 2005, 478 SCRA 247

FACTS:

Two years after the arrival of Placido from the United States and at the age of 80 he wed Josefina who was then 28 years old. But in a little more than two years of wedded bliss, Placido died. Placido executed a notarial last will and testament written in English and consisting of 2 pages, and dated 15 June 1983¸but acknowledged only on 9 August 1983. The allowance to probate of this will was opposed by Leticia, Placido’s sister. According to the notary public who notarized the testator’s will, after the testator instructed him on the terms and dispositions he wanted on the will, the notary public told them to come back on 15 August 1983 to give him time to prepare. The testator and his witnesses returned on the appointed date but the notary public was out of town so they were instructed by his wife to come back on 9 August 1983. The formal execution was actually on 9 August 1983. He reasoned he no longer changed the typewritten date of 15 June 1983 because he did not like the document to appear dirty.

Petitioner’s argument:
1. At the time of the execution of the notarial will Placido was already 83 years old and was no longer of sound mind.

2. Josefina conspired with the notary public and the 3 attesting witnesses in deceiving Placido to sign it. Deception is allegedly reflected in the varying dates of the execution and the attestation of the will.

ISSUE:

1. W/N Placido has testamentary capacity at the time he allegedly executed the will.
2. W/N the signature of Placido in the will was procured by fraud or trickery.

HELD:

1. YES. Despite his advanced age, he was still able to identify accurately the kinds of property he owned, the extent of his shares in them and even their location. As regards the proper objects of his bounty, it was sufficient that he identified his wife as sole beneficiary. The omission of some relatives from the will did not affect its formal validity. There being no showing of fraud in its execution, intent in its disposition becomes irrelevant.

2. NO. Fraud is a trick, secret devise, false statement, or pretense, by which the subject of it is cheated. It may be of such character that the testator is misled or deceived as to the nature or contents of the document which he executes, or it may relate to some extrinsic fact, in consequence of the deception regarding which the testator is led to make a certain will which, but for fraud, he would not have made.
The party challenging the will bears the burden of proving the existence of fraud at the time of its execution. The burden to show otherwise shifts to the proponent of the will only upon a showing of credible evidence of fraud.

Omission of some relatives does not affect the due execution of a will. Moreover, the conflict between the dates appearing on the will does not invalidate the document, “because the law does not even require that a notarial will be executed and acknowledged on the same occasion. The variance in the dates of the will as to its supposed execution and attestation was satisfactorily and persuasively explained by the notary public and instrumental witnesses.

*Case digest by Kharla Angelique B. Ko-Tubat, LLB-IV, Andres Bonifacio College Law School, SY 2018-2019

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