G.R. No. 82027, 29 March 1990, 183 SCRA 755


Romarico Vitug and Nenita Alonte were co-administrators of Dolores Vitug’s estate. Rowena Corona was the executrix. Romarico, the deceased’s husband, filed a motion with the probate court asking for authority to sell certain shares of stock and real properties belonging to the estate to cover alleged advances to the estate, which he claimed as personal funds. The advances were used to pay estate taxes.

Corona opposed the motion on the ground that the advances came from a savings account which formed part of the conjugal partnership properties and is part of the estate. Thus, there was no ground for reimbursement. Romarico claims that the funds are his exclusive property, having been acquired through a survivorship agreement executed with his late wife and the bank.

The agreement stated that after the death of either one of the spouses, the savings account shall belong to and be the sole property of the surviving spouse, and shall be payable to and collective or withdrawable by such surviving spouse.

The lower court upheld the validity of the agreement and granted the motion to sell. CA reversed stating that the survivorship agreement constitutes a conveyance motis causa which did not comply with the formalities of a valid will. Assuming that it was a donation inter vivos, it is a prohibited donation (donation between spouses).


Within the survivorship agreement was valid.


YES. The conveyance is not mortis causa, which should be embodied in a will. A will is a personal, solemn, revocable and free act by which a capacitated persons disposes of his property and rights and declares or complied with duties to take effect after his death. The bequest or devise must pertain to the testator.

In this case, the savings account involved was in the nature of conjugal funds. Since it was not shown that the funds belonged exclusively to one party, it is presumed to be conjugal. It is also not a donation inter vivos because it was to take effect after the death of one party. It is also not a donation between spouses because it involved no conveyance of a spouse’s own properties to the other.

It was an error to include the savings account in the inventory of the deceased’s assets because it is the separate property of Romarico.

Thus, Romarico had the right to claim reimbursement.

A will is personal, solemn, revocable and free act by which a capacitated person disposes of his property and rights and declares or complies with duties to take effect after his death.

Survivorship agreements are permitted by the NCC. However, its operation or effect must not be violative of the law (i.e. used as a cloak to hide an inofficious donation or to transfer property in fraud of creditors or to defeat the legitime of a forced heir.

*Case digest by Mark Milan, LLB-IV, Andres Bonifacio College Law School, SY 2018-2019