Ajero vs. CA

 

G.R. No. 106720 September 15, 1994

SPOUSES ROBERTO AND THELMA AJERO, petitioners,
vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS AND CLEMENTE SAND, respondents.


FACTS:

Annie Sand named as devisees petitioners Roberto and Thelma Ajero, private respondent Clemente Sand, Meriam S. Arong, Leah Sand, Lilia Sand, Edgar Sand, Fe Sand, Lisa S. Sand, and Dr. Jose Ajero, Sr., and their children.


Petition for allowance of decedent's holographic will was opposed by Private respondent on the grounds that: neither the testament's body nor the signature therein was in decedent's handwriting; it contained alterations and corrections which were not duly signed by decedent; and, the will was procured by petitioners through improper pressure and undue influence. The petition was likewise opposed by Dr. Jose Ajero. He contested the disposition in the will of a house and lot located in Cabadbaran, Agusan Del Norte. He claimed that said property could not be conveyed by decedent in its entirety, as she was not its sole owner.


The trial court admitted the decedent's holographic will to probate.


On appeal, the petition for probate of decedent's will was dismissed. The Court of Appeals found that, "the holographic will failed to meet the requirements for its validity."  It held that the decedent did not comply with Articles 813 and 814 of the New Civil Code, which read, as follows:


Art. 813: When a number of dispositions appearing in a holographic will are signed without being dated, and the last disposition has a signature and date, such date validates the dispositions preceding it, whatever be the time of prior dispositions.

Art. 814: In case of insertion, cancellation, erasure or alteration in a holographic will, the testator must authenticate the same by his full signature.


ISSUE:


Whether the holographic will should be admitted to probate.

 

RULING:


Yes. The holographic will should be admitted to probate.


The SC held that the lists for disallowing wills are exclusive and that no other grounds can serve to disallow a will. 

It cited the following:


Section 9, Rule 76 of the Rules of Court provides that will shall be disallowed in any of the following cases:

(a) If not executed and attested as required by law;

(b) If the testator was insane, or otherwise mentally incapable to make a will, at the time of its execution;

(c) If it was executed under duress, or the influence of fear, or threats;

(d) If it was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence, on the part of the beneficiary, or of some other person for his benefit;

(e) If the signature of the testator was procured by fraud or trick, and he did not intend that the instrument should be his will at the time of fixing his signature thereto.

Article 839 of the New Civil Code:

Art. 839: The will shall be disallowed in any of the following cases;

(1) If the formalities required by law have not been complied with;

(2) If the testator was insane, or otherwise mentally incapable of making a will, at the time of its execution;

(3) If it was executed through force or under duress, or the influence of fear, or threats;

(4) If it was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence, on the part of the beneficiary or of some other person;

(5) If the signature of the testator was procured by fraud;

(6) If the testator acted by mistake or did not intend that the instrument he signed should be his will at the time of affixing his signature thereto.


In the case at bench, the SC said that the holographic will complied with the requirements of Articles 813 and 814 of the Civil Code and reiterated its ruling in  Abangan vs. Abangan:


The object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door against bad faith and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guaranty their truth and authenticity. Therefore, the laws on this subject should be interpreted in such a way as to attain these primordial ends. But, on the other hand, also one must not lose sight of the fact that it is not the object of the law to restrain and curtail the exercise of the right to make a will. So when an interpretation already given assures such ends, any other interpretation whatsoever, that adds nothing but demands more requisites entirely unnecessary, useless and frustrative of the testator's last will, must be disregarded.


For purposes of probating non-holographic wills, these formal solemnities include the subscription, attestation, and acknowledgment requirements under Articles 805 and 806 of the New Civil Code.


In the case of holographic wills, on the other hand, what assures authenticity is the requirement that they be totally autographic or handwritten by the testator himself, as provided under Article 810 of the New Civil Code, thus:


A person may execute a holographic will which must be entirely written, dated, and signed by the hand of the testator himself. It is subject to no other form, and may be made in or out of the Philippines, and need not be witnessed.


A reading of Article 813 of the New Civil Code shows that its requirement affects the validity of the dispositions contained in the holographic will, but not its probate. If the testator fails to sign and date some of the dispositions, the result is that these dispositions cannot be effectuated. Such failure, however, does not render the whole testament void.


Likewise, a holographic will can still be admitted to probate, notwithstanding non-compliance with the provisions of Article 814. In the case of Kalaw vs. Relova the Supreme Court held:


Ordinarily, when a number of erasures, corrections, and interlineations made by the testator in a holographic Will have not been noted under his signature, . . . the Will is not thereby invalidated as a whole, but at most only as respects the particular words erased, corrected or interlined.


Thus, unless the unauthenticated alterations, cancellations or insertions were made on the date of the holographic will or on testator's signature, their presence does not invalidate the will itself.  The lack of authentication will only result in disallowance of such changes.


This separation and distinction adds support to the interpretation that only the requirements of Article 810 of the New Civil Code — and not those found in Articles 813 and 814 of the same Code — are essential to the probate of a holographic will.


The SC affirmed the ruling of the CA  that decedent Annie Sand could not validly dispose of the house and lot located in Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte, in its entirety. The testatrix cannot validly dispose of the whole property, which she shares with her father's other heirs.


The holographic will of decedent Annie Sand was admitted to probate.

 

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