Insular vs. Ebrado, G.R. No. L-44059 October 28, 1977

Topic : Parties – Beneficiaries

Buenaventura Ebrado applied for life and accident insurance where Carponia (common law wife)  was made as the revocable beneficiary in his policy. Ebrado died as a result of an accident when he was hit by a falling branch of a tree.

Carponia T. Ebrado filed with the insurer a claim for the proceeds of the Policy as the designated beneficiary therein, although she admits that she and the insured were merely living as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage.

Pascuala Vda. de Ebrado also filed her claim as the widow of the deceased insured. She asserts that she is the one entitled to the insurance proceeds, not the common-law wife.

The Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd. commenced an action for Interpleader to determine as to whom the insurance proceeds shall be paid. The trial court rendered judgment disqualified Carponia from becoming beneficiary and directed the payment of the insurance proceeds to the estate of the deceased on the basis of Article 739 of the new Civil Code.

The following donations shall be void:

1. Those made between persons who were guilty of adultery or concubinage at the time of donation;

2. Those made between persons found guilty of the same criminal offense, in consideration thereof;

3. Those made to a public officer or his wife, descendants or ascendants by reason of his office.

In the case referred to in No. 1, the action for declaration of nullity may be brought by the spouse of the donor or donee; and the guilt of the donee may be proved by preponderance of evidence in the same action.

WON Carponia shall be declared disqualified to be the beneficiary of the late Buenaventura C. Ebrado in his life insurance policy.

HELD

YES. In essence, a life insurance policy is no different from a civil donation insofar as the beneficiary is concerned. Both are founded upon the same consideration: liberality. A beneficiary is like a donee, because from the premiums of the policy which the insured pays out of liberality, the beneficiary will receive the proceeds or profits of said insurance. As a consequence, the proscription in Article 739 of the new Civil Code should equally operate in life insurance contracts. The mandate of Article 2012 cannot be laid aside: any person who cannot receive a donation cannot be named as beneficiary in the life insurance policy of the person who cannot make the donation.

Policy considerations and dictates of morality rightly justify the institution of a barrier between common law spouses in record to Property relations since such hip ultimately encroaches upon the nuptial and filial rights of the legitimate family.  There is every reason to hold that the bar on donations between legitimate spouses and those between illegitimate ones should be enforced in life insurance policies since the same are based on similar considerations. As above pointed out, a beneficiary in a fife insurance policy is no different from a donee. Both are recipients of pure beneficence. So long as manage remains the threshold of family laws, reason and morality dictate that the impediments imposed upon married couple should likewise be imposed upon extra-marital relationships. If legitimate relationship is circumscribed by these legal disabilities, with more reason should an illicit relationship be restricted by these disabilities.

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