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50. Paula DE LA CERNA, ET AL. v. Manuela Rebaca POTOT, ET AL.

, and AS TO THE VALIDITY OF THE JOINT WILL


THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS. The final decree of probate, entered in 1939, by the CFI of Cebu (when Bernabe
G.R. No. L-20234 | 23 Dec. 1964 died), has conclusive effect as to his last will and testament despite the fact that even
then the Civil Code already decreed the invalidity of joint wills.
Topic: Allowance and Disallowance of Wills
The ultimate decision on whether an act is valid or void rests with the courts, and
DOCTRINE: Where a husband and wife executed a joint will and upon the death of here they have spoken with finality when the will was probated in 1939. A final
the husband said will was admitted to probate by a final decree of the court although judgment rendered on a petition for the probate of a will is binding upon the whole
erroneous, and the wife dies later, it is held that said first decree of probate affects world.
only the estate of the husband but cannot affect the estate of the wife, considering
that a joint will is a separate will of each testator; and a joint will being prohibited by AS TO THE EFFECT OF THE JOINT WILL
law, the estate of the wife should pass upon her death to her intestate heirs and not to It could only affect the share of the deceased husband, Bernabe. It could not include
the testamentary heir. the disposition of the share of the wife, Gervasia, who was then still alive, and over
whose interest in the conjugal properties the probate court acquired no jurisdiction,
FACTS precisely because her estate could not then be in issue. A will could not be probated
1. May 9, 1939 – Sps. Bernabe de la Serna and Gervasia Rebaca executed a joint last during the testator's lifetime.
will and testament in the local dialect and willed in this manner:
"Our two parcels of land acquired during our marriage together with all Hence, the validity of the will, in so far as the estate of the wife was concerned, must
improvements thereon shall be given to Manuela Rebaca, our niece, whom we have be, on her death, reexamined and adjudicated de novo, since a joint will is considered
nurtured since childhood, because God did not give us any child in our a separate will of each testator. Thus, the joint will be one prohibited by law as to the
union, Manuela Rebaca being married to Nicolas Potot. participation of the wife, Gervasia, in the properties in question.

While each of the testators is yet living, he or she will continue to enjoy the fruits of Therefore, as a joint will is being prohibited by law, the estate of the wife should
the two lands (located in Cebu) aforementioned." pass upon her death to her intestate heirs and not to the testamentary heir (unless
some other valid will is shown to exist in favor of the latter or unless the
2. Aug. 30, 1939 – Bernabe (husband) died. Gervasia (wife) and Manuela submitted testamentary heir is the only heir of said wife).
to probate the will in the CFI of Cebu, which the court admitted. (Decree of probate
of 1939)

3. Oct. 14, 1952 –Gervasia died. Another petition for the probate of the same will
insofar as Gervasia was concerned was filed. But for failure of Manuela and her
attorney, Manuel Potot to appear for the hearing of said petition, the case was
dismissed.

4. CFI: Declared the testament null and void, for being executed contrary to the
prohibition of joint wills in the Civil Code.
CA: Reversed. The decree of probate in 1939 was issued by a court of probate
jurisdiction and conclusive on the due execution of the testament.

ISSUE
W/N the joint will in this case is valid.

HELD
YES. But as to the deceased husband, Bernabe, only.