G.R. No. 169144. January 26, 2011
Ruperta, a Filipino who became a naturalized United States (U.S.) citizen, died single and childless. In the last will and testament she executed in California, she designated her brother, Sergio C. Palaganas (Sergio), as the executor of her will for she had left properties in the Philippines and in the U.S. In 2003 respondent Ernesto C. Palaganas, another brother of Ruperta, filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malolos, Bulacan, a petition for the probate of Ruperta’s will and for his appointment as special administrator of her estate.
However, petitioners Manuel Miguel Palaganas (Manuel) and Benjamin Gregorio Palaganas (Benjamin), nephews of Ruperta, opposed the petition on the ground that Ruperta’s will should not be probated in the Philippines but in the U.S. where she executed it. Manuel and Benjamin added that, assuming Ruperta’s will could be probated in the Philippines, it is invalid nonetheless for having been executed under duress and without the testator’s full understanding of the consequences of such act. Ernesto, they claimed, is also not qualified to act as administrator of the estate.
Whether the unprobated will executed by an American citizen in the U.S. cannot be probated for the first time in the Philippines.
NO. Our laws do not prohibit the probate of wills executed by foreigners abroad although the same have not as yet been probated and allowed in the countries of their execution. A foreign will can be given legal effects in our jurisdiction. Article 816 of the Civil Code states that the will of an alien who is abroad produces effect in the Philippines if made in accordance with the formalities prescribed by the law of the place where he resides, or according to the formalities observed in his country.
Our rules require merely that the petition for the allowance of a will must show, so far as known to the petitioner: (a) the jurisdictional facts; (b) the names, ages, and residences of the heirs, legatees, and devisees of the testator or decedent; (c) the probable value and character of the property of the estate; (d) the name of the person for whom letters are prayed; and (e) if the will has not been delivered to the court, the name of the person having custody of it.
In insisting that Ruperta’s will should have been first probated and allowed by the court of California, petitioners Manuel and Benjamin obviously have in mind the procedure for the reprobate of will before admitting it here. But, reprobate or re-authentication of a will already probated and allowed in a foreign country is different from that probate where the will is presented for the first time before a competent court. Besides, petitioners’ stand is fraught with impractically. If the instituted heirs do not have the means to go abroad for the probate of the will, it is as good as depriving them outright of their inheritance, since our law requires that no will shall pass either real or personal property unless the will has been proved and allowed by the proper court.
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