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11. URIARTE vs.

CFI
May 29, 1970

Short version: Vicente filed a petition for the settlement of the estate of his father in Negros.
Subsequently, a petition for probate of the will of his father was filed in Manila. Court held that the proper
court to try the case was Negros. The deceased was a non-resident alien and while his properties were not
in just one place, it was Negros who first took cognizance of the case. However, the will was already
probated in Manila and the Court blamed Vicente for being negligent in raising the improper venue issue in
time. The probate of the will was affirmed.

FACTS

November 6, 1961 – Vicente filed with CFI Negros a petition for the settlement of the estate of the late
Don Juan Uriarte alleging therein that as a natural son of the latter, he was the sole heir and that during
the lifetime of said decedent, Vicente had instituted a civil case in CFI Negros for his compulsory
acknowledgment as such natural son

CFI Negros appointed the PNB as special administrator and later set the date for the hearing of the petition
and ordered that the requisite notices be published in accordance with law.

The record discloses, however, that, for one reason or another, PNB never actually qualified as special
administrator.

December 19, 1961 – Higinio Uriarte filed an opposition to the petition alleging that he was a nephew of
the deceased Juan Uriarte who had executed a Last Will and Testament in Spain, a duly authenticated copy
whereof has been requested and which shall be submitted to the court upon receipt and further
questioning Vicente’s capacity and interest to commence the intestate proceeding.

August 28, 1962 – Juan Uriarte Zamacona commenced a special proceeding in CFI Manila for the probate
of a document alleged to be the last will of the deceased Juan Uriarte and filed with CFI Negros a Motion to
Dismiss on these grounds:
 As a deceased left a last will, there was no basis to proceed with the intestate proceedings
 Vicente Uriarte had no legal personality and interest to initiate the intestate proceedings, he not
being an acknowledged natural son of the decedent.

Vicente opposed the MTD contending that, as CFI Negros was first to take cognizance of the settlement of
the estate of Juan Uriarte, it had acquired exclusive jurisdiction over the same.

CFI Negros granted Juan Uriarte Zamacona’s MTD and dismissed the proceeding before it. MR denied. He
filed a notice of appeal, appeal bond and record on appeal. The administrator appointed by CFI Manila
objected to the approval of the record on appeal. While this was pending, Vicente Uriarte filed a petition for
certiorari with the Supreme Court. Therefore, CFI Negros disapproved the record on appeal to give way to
the certiorari.

Vicente Uriarte filed an Omnibus Motion in CFI Manila asking for leave to intervene therein, for the
dismissal of the petition and for the annulment of the proceedings had in the special proceeding therein.
Motion was denied.

It appears from the records that Vicente had filed a civil case in CFi Negros during the lifetime of Juan
Uriarte to obtain judgment for his compulsory acknowledgement as his natural child. It is likewise clear that
at the time he filed the action, as well as when he commenced the petition for settlement of estate, he had
not yet been acknowledged as natural son of Juan Uriarte.

The record further discloses that the special proceeding before CFI Negros has not gone further than the
appointment of PNB as special administrator (who failed to qualify).
On the other hand, CFI Manila admitted to probate the document submitted to it, as the last will of Juan
Uriarte, the petition for probate appearing not to have been contested.

ISSUE: Whether Juan Uriarte Zamacona should have filed the petition for probate of the last will of Juan
Uriarte with CFI Negros or was entitled to commenced the corresponding separate proceedings in CFI
Manila

REASONING

Rule 73, Section: the estate of a decedent inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a
citizen or an alien, shall be in the court of first instance in the province in which he resided at the time of
his death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the court of first instance of any province in which
he had estate.

The deceased Juan Uriarte was a non-resident alien. Therefore, the CFIs in provinces where he left any
property have concurrent jurisdiction to take cognizance of the proper special proceedings for the
settlement of his estate.

Vicente argues that when CFI Negros took cognizance, CFI Manila no longer had jurisdiction to take
cognizance of the special proceeding.

It cannot be denied that a special proceeding intended to effect the distribution of the estate of a deceased
person, whether in accordance with the law on intestate succession or in accordance with his will, is a
"probate matter" or a proceeding for the settlement of his estate.

It is equally true, however, that in accordance with settled jurisprudence in this jurisdiction, testate
proceedings, for the settlement of the estate of deceased person take precedence over intestate
proceedings for the same purpose. Thus it has been held repeatedly that, if in the course of intestate
proceedings pending before a court of first instance it is found that the decedent had left a last will,
proceedings for the probate of the latter should replace the intestate proceedings even if at that stage an
administrator had already been appointed, the latter being required to render final account and turn over
the estate in his possession to the executor subsequently appointed.

These facts support the view that Juan Uriarte Zamacona should have submitted the will for probate in CFI
Negros either in a separate special proceeding or in an appropriate motion in the already pending special
proceeding:
1. It is not in accord with public policy and the orderly and inexpensive administration of justice to
unnecessarily multiply litigation, especially if several courts would be involved.
2. When Higinio Uriarte filed an opposition to Vicente’s petition for the issuance of letters of
sdministration, he had already informed the Negros Court that the deceased Juan Uriarte had left a
will in Spain, of which a copy had been requested for submission to CFI Negros. When Juan Uriarte
Zamacona filed his MTD in CFI Negros, he had submitted there a copy of the alleged will of the
decedent, from which fact it may be inferred that he knew before filing the petition for probate
with the Manila Court that there was already a special proceeding pending in CFi negros for the
settlement of the estate of the same deceased person.

It is well settled that wrong venue is merely a waivable procedural defect, and in the light of the
circumstances obtaining in this case, Vicente has waived the right to raise such objection or is precluded
from doing so by laches. He knew of the existence of the will since 1961 when Higinio Urirate opposed the
initial petition in CFI Negros. He was also served with notice of the alleged will and of the filing of petition
for its probate when Juan Uriarte Zamacona filed an MTD in CFI Negros on 1962. He only filed the omnibus
motion in the Manila Court on April 1963. By then, The Manila Court had already appointed an
administrator and had admitted the will to probate. To allow him now to assail the exercise of jurisdiction
over the probate of the will by the Manila court and the validity of all the proceedings therein would put a
premium on his negligence.
SC is not inclined to annul proceedings regularly had in a lower court even if the latter was not the proper
venue therefore, if the net result would be to have the same proceedings repeated in some other court of
similar jurisdiction; more so in a case like the present where the objection against said proceedings is
raised too late.

DISPOITIVE petition dismissed

12. Roberts v. Leonidas


129 SCRA 754

FACTS:

Grimm, an American resident of Manila, died in 1977. He was survived by his second wife (Maxine), their
two children (Pete and Linda), and by his two children by a first marriage (Juanita and Ethel) which ended
by divorce.

Grimm executed two wills in San Francisco, California on January 23, 1959. One will disposed of his
Philippine estate described as conjugal property of himself and his second wife. The second will disposed of
his estate outside the Philippines. The two wills and a codicil were presented for probate in Utah by Maxine
on March 1978. Maxine admitted that she received notice of the intestate petition filed in Manila by Ethel in
January 1978. The Utah Court admitted the two wills and codicil to probate on April 1978 and was issued
upon consideration of the stipulation between the attorneys for Maxine and Ethel.

Also in April 1978, Maxine and Ethel, with knowledge of the intestate proceeding in Manila, entered into
a compromise agreement in Utah regarding the estate.

As mentioned, in January 1978, an intestate proceeding was instituted by Ethel. On March 1978, Maxine
filed an opposition and motion to dismiss the intestate proceeding on the ground of pendency of the Utah
probate proceedings. She submitted to the court a copy of Grimm’s will. However, pursuant to
the compromiseagreement, Maxine withdrew the opposition and the motion to dismiss. The court ignored
the will found in the record.The estate was partitioned.

In 1980, Maxine filed a petition praying for the probate of the two wills (already probated in Utah), that the
partition approved by the intestate court be set aside and the letters of administration revoked, that Maxine
be appointed executrix and Ethel be ordered to account for the properties received by them and return the
same to Maxine. Maxine alleged that they were defrauded due to the machinations of Ethel, that
the compromiseagreement was illegal and the intestate proceeding was void because Grimm died testate
so partition was contrary to the decedent’s wills.

Ethel filed a motion to dismiss the petition which was denied by Judge Leonidas for lack of merit.

ISSUE: Whether the judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in
denying Ethel’s motion to dismiss.

HELD:

We hold that respondent judge did not commit any grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack of
jurisdiction, in denying Ethel’s motion to dismiss.
A testate proceeding is proper in this case because Grimmdied with two wills and “no will shall pass either
real or personal property unless it is proved and allowed” (Art. 838, Civil Code; sec. 1, Rule 75, Rules of
Court).

The probate of the will is mandatory. It is anomalous that the estate of a person who died testate should
be settled in an intestate proceeding. Therefore, the intestate case should be consolidated with the testate
proceeding and the judge assigned to the testate proceeding should continue hearing the two cases.
13. G.R. No. L-39532 July 20, 1979

Testate Estate of Jose M. Valero, FLORA VALERO VDA. DE RODRIGUEZ and ROSIE VALERO DE
GUTIERREZ, petitioners-appellants, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and CARMEN VALERO-
RUSTIA, respondents-appellees.

AQUINO, J.:

This is supposedly a case about collation. As factual background, it should be stated that the spouses,
Beatriz Bautista and Jose M. Valero, did not beget any child during their marriage In 1951 Beatriz adopted
Carmen (Carmencita) Bautista. Jose wanted also to adopt her but because, by his first marriage, he had
two children named Flora Valero Vda. de Rodriguez and Rosie Valero Gutierrez. he was disqualified to
adopt Carmen. Jose manifested in the adoption proceeding that he consented to the use by Carmen of his
surname Valero. (See Civil Case No. 12475, Manila CFI; Art. 338[1], Civil Code and art. 28, Child and Youth
Welfare Code.)

On September 18, 1964, Jose M. Valero donated to Carmen B. Valero (who was already married to Doctor
Sergio Rustia) his one-half proindiviso share (apparently his inchoate share) in two conjugal lots, with the
improvements thereon, located at San Lorenzo Village, Makati, Rizal, with an area of 1,500 square meters.
His wife, Beatriz, consented to the donation. However, the deed of donation was not registered.

On January 13, 1966, Jose M. Valero, who was then seventy-three years old, executed his last will and
testament wherein he enumerated the conjugal properties of himself and his wife, including the two San
Lorenzo Village lots. In that will, he did not mention the donation. He devised to his wife properties
sufficient to constitute her legitime and bequeathed the remainder to his two children, Mrs. Rodriguez and
Mrs. Gutierrez.

About a month later, or on February 15, 1966, the Valero spouses, by means of a deed of absolute sale,
conveyed the San Lorenzo Village lots and the improvements thereon to Carmen B. Valero-Rustia for the
sum of one hundred twenty thousand pesos. The sale was registered on the following day. Transfer
Certificates of Title Nos. 163270 and 163271 were issued to the vendee, Mrs. Rustia.

On December 4, 1967 she mortgaged the two lots to the Quezon City Development Bank as security for a
loan of fifty thousand pesos (page 204, Rollo).

Beatriz B. Valero died intestate on September 12, 1972, survived by her husband and her adopted child.
Her estate is pending settlement in Special Proceeding No. 88896 of the Court of First Instance of Manila.
Mrs. Rustia was named administratrix of her adopted mother's estate.

More than a month later, or on October 18, 1972, Jose M. Valero died testate, survived by his two children,
Mrs. Rodriguez and Mrs. Gutierrez. His will was duly probated in Special Proceeding No. 88677, also of the
Court of First Instance of Manila. Lawyer Celso F. Unson, the executor, submitted an inventory wherein,
following the list of conjugal assets in the testator's will, the two San Lorenzo Village lots were included as
part of the testate estate.

That inclusion provoked Mrs. Rustia, the adopted child of Mrs. Valero, and Mrs. Rodriguez and Mrs.
Gutierrez, the legitimate children of the testator, Jose M. Valero, to file (through Mrs. Rustia's lawyer) in
the testate proceeding a motion for the exclusion of the two San Lorenzo Village lots from the testator's
inventoried estate.

Adduced as reason for the exclusion is the fact that since February 16, 1966 Mrs. Rustia has been the
registered owner of the lots as shown by two Torrens titles, copies of which were attached to the motion.

The executor opposed the motion on the ground that the two lots were donated to Mrs. Rustia and the
donation would allegedly involve collation and the donee's title to the lots. The executor revealed that he
was informed by Mrs. Gutierrez and Mrs. Rodriguez (supposed movants) that the two lots should be
included in the inventory. Thus, the issue of collation was prematurely raised.
The probate court in its order of August 9, 1973 excluded the two lots from the inventory of the testator's
estate but with the understanding "that the same are subject to collation".

On December 4, 1973 or one hundred twelve days after Mrs. Rustia was served with a copy of that order,
she filed a motion for its reconsideration. She insisted that she is the owner of the two San Lorenzo Village
lots as indicated in the Torrens titles. No one opposed that motion. At the hearing of that motion, Mrs.
Rustia's lawyer apprised the court that the executor informed him over the phone that he was not opposing
the motion.

The probate court in its order of December 14, 1973 ruled that the two lots were unconditionally excluded
from the inventory of Jose M. Valero's estate, meaning "that they are not subject to collation". That order
is the bone of contention in this case.

Mrs. Rodriguez (without being joined by her sister, Mrs. Gutierrez) filed a motion for the reconsideration of
the order of December 14, 1973. She alleged that the two San Lorenzo Village lots were really conveyed to
Mrs. Rustia by way of donation because the consideration for the sale was allegedly only one-fifth of the
true value of the lots. Mrs. Rodriguez further contended that the order of August 9, 1973 was final in
character.

In reply, Mrs. Rustia countered that the prior order was interlocutory and that in 1966 the true value of the
two lots was around P120,000 and that their value increased considerably in 1973 or 1974. Moreover, the
relatively low price of the sale could be attributed to the fact that Mrs. Rustia and her husband lived with
the Valeros and were taking care of them.

The probate court denied the motion for reconsideration. Mrs. Rodriguez and Mrs. Gutierrez, in their
petition for certiorari in the Court of Appeals, assailed the probate court's order declaring that the two lots
were not subject to collation.

The Court of Appeals held that the order of exclusion dated August 9, 1973 was interlocutory and that it
could be changed or Modified at anytime during the course of the administration proceedings.

It further held that it was immaterial whether the two lots were donated or sold to Mrs. Rustia as "a mere
subterfuge to avoid payment of the donor's and donee's taxes". According to the Appellate Court, it was
immaterial because under article 1061 of the Civil Code, only compulsory heirs are required to make
collation for the determination of their legitimes and, under section 2, Rule 90 of the Rules of Court, only
heirs are involved in questions as to advancement and Mrs. Rustia is not an heir of the testator, Jose M.
Valero (Vda. de Rodriguez vs. Valero Rustia, CA-G. R. No. SP- 02944, August 28, 1974, per G. S. Santos,
Gaviola, Jr. and De Castro, JJ.).

From that decision, an appeal was made to this Court. The appeal was not given due course. However,
upon motion for reconsideration and over Mrs. Rustia's opposition, the appeal was later allowed.

The appellants' only assignment of error is that the Court of Appeals should have held that the probate
court's order of exclusion dated August 9, 1973 was not interlocutory but was a final and appealable order
valid that the order of December 14, 1973 modifying the order of August 3 is void.

We hold that the order of exclusion dated August 9, 1973 was not a final order. It was interlocutory in the
sense that it did not settle once and for all the title to the San Lorenzo Village lots. The probate court in the
exclusion incident could not determine the question of title.

The prevailing rule is that for the purpose of determining whether a certain property should or should not
be included in the inventory, the probate court may pass upon the title thereto but such determination is
not conclusive and is subject to the final decision in a separate action regarding ownership which may be
instituted by the parties (3 Moran's Comments on the Rules of Court, 1970 Edition, pages 448-9 and 473;
Lachenal vs. Salas, L-42257, June 14, 1976, 71 SCRA 262, 266).
We hold further that the dictum of the Court of Appeals and the probate court that the two disputed lots
are not subject to collation was a supererogation and was not necessary to the disposition of the case
which merely involved the issue of inclusion in, or exclusion from, the inventory of the testator's estate.
The issue of collation was not yet justifiable at that early stage of the testate proceeding. It is not
necessary to mention in the order of exclusion the controversial matter of collation.

Whether collation may exist with respect to the two lots and whether Mrs. Rustia's Torrens titles thereto
are indefeasible are matters that may be raised later or may not be raised at all. How those issues should
be resolved, if and when they are raised, need not be touched upon in the adjudication of this appeal.

The intestate and testate proceedings for the settlement of the estates of the deceased Valero spouses
were consolidated, as ordered by the lower court on November 21, 1974, so that the conjugal estate of the
deceased spouses may be properly liquidated, as contemplated in section 2, Rule 73 of the Rules of Court
and Act No. 3176 (Pages 223 and 235-6, Rollo).

We have examined the expedientes of the two cases. We found that the proceedings have not yet reached
the stage when the question of collation or advancement to an heir may be raised and decided. The
numerous debts of the decedents are still being paid. The net remainder ( remanente liquido) of their
conjugal estate has not yet been determined. On the other hand, up to this time, no separate action has
been brought by the appellants to nullify Mrs. Rustia's Torrens titles to the disputed lots or to show that the
sale was in reality a donation.

In this appeal, it is not proper to pass upon the question of collation and to decide whether Mrs. Rustia's
titles to the disputed lots are questionable. The proceedings below have not reached the stage of partition
and distribution when the legitimes of the compulsory heirs have to be determined.

WHEREFORE, we affirm the decision of the Court of Appeals and the orders of the, lower court dated
August 9 and December 14, 1973, excluding from the inventory of Jose M. Valeros estate the two San
Lorenzo Village lots now registered in the name of Carmen B. Valero-Rustia, but we delete from that
decision and the two orders any ruling regarding collation which is a matter that may be passed upon by
the probate court at the time when it is seasonably raised by the interested parties, if it is ever raised at all.
No costs.