G.R. Nos. 140371-72, 27 November 2006, 508 SCRA 177
On September 21, 1988, private respondents filed a petition for the settlement of the intestate estate of the late Segundo Seangio and praying for the appointment of private respondent Elisa D. Seangio–Santos as special administrator and guardian ad litem of petitioner Dy Yieng Seangio.
Petitioners Dy Yieng, Barbara and Virginia, all surnamed Seangio, opposed the petition. They contended that Segundo left a holographic will, dated September 20, 1995, disinheriting one of the private respondents, Alfredo Seangio, for cause. In view of the purported holographic will, petitioners averred that in the event the decedent is found to have left a will, the intestate proceedings are to be automatically suspended and replaced by the proceedings for the probate of the will.
The petitioner instituted a petition for the probation of the will. Private respondents moved for the dismissal of the probate proceedings5 primarily on the ground that the document purporting to be the holographic will of Segundo does not contain any disposition of the estate of the deceased and thus does not meet the definition of a will under Article 783 of the Civil Code. According to private respondents, the will only shows an alleged act of disinheritance by the decedent of his eldest son, Alfredo, and nothing else; that all other compulsory heirs were not named nor instituted as heir, devisee or legatee, hence, there is preterition which would result to intestacy.
RTC dismissed the petition for probate proceedings on the reason that there is preterition in the will.
Whether the court erred in dismissing the probate proceeding.
Yes. For disinheritance to be valid, Article 916 of the Civil Code requires that the same must be effected through a will wherein the legal cause therefor shall be specified. With regard to the reasons for the disinheritance that were stated by Segundo in his document, the Court believes that the incidents, taken as a whole, can be considered a form of maltreatment of Segundo by his son, Alfredo, and that the matter presents a sufficient cause for the disinheritance of a child or descendant under Article 919 of the Civil Code.
Segundo’s document, although it may initially come across as a mere disinheritance instrument, conforms to the formalities of a holographic will prescribed by law. It is written, dated and signed by the hand of Segundo himself. An intent to dispose mortis causa can be clearly deduced from the terms of the instrument, and while it does not make an affirmative disposition of the latter’s property, the disinheritance of Alfredo, nonetheless, is an act of disposition in itself. In other words, the disinheritance results in the disposition of the property of the testator Segundo in favor of those who would succeed in the absence of Alfredo.
With regard to the issue on preterition, the Court believes that the compulsory heirs in the direct line were not preterited in the will. It was, in the Court’s opinion, Segundo’s last expression to bequeath his estate to all his compulsory heirs, with the sole exception of Alfredo. Also, Segundo did not institute an heir16 to the exclusion of his other compulsory heirs. Considering that the questioned document is Segundo’s holographic will, and that the law favors testacy over intestacy, the probate of the will cannot be dispensed with. Article 838 of the Civil Code provides that no will shall pass either real or personal property unless it is proved and allowed in accordance with the Rules of Court. Thus, unless the will is probated, the right of a person to dispose of his property may be rendered nugatory.
*Case digest by Em Epsan Batoon, LLB-4, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2018-2019