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EDUARDO AGTARAP VS. SEBASTIAN AGTARAP GR No.

177099, June 8, 2011 FACTS: Eduardo filed with the RTC Br 114, Pasay, a verified petition for the judicial settlement of theestate of his father Joaquin Agtarap who died intestate without any known debts or obligations. During hisl i f e t i m e , J o a q u i n c o n t r a c t e d t w o m a r r i a g e s , f i r s t w i t h L u c i a G a r c i a , a n d s e c o n d w i t h C a r i d a d Garcia. Lucia died on April 24, 1924. Joaquin and Lucia had three childrenJesus (died without issue),Milagros, and Jose (survived by three children, namely, Gloria, Joseph, and Teresa). Joaquin marriedCaridad on February 9, 1926. They also had three childrenEduardo, Sebastian, and Mercedes (survived by her daughter Cecile). At the time of his death, Joaquin left two parcels of land with improvementsin Pasay City.Eduardo alleged that the subject properties were owned by Joaquin and Caridad since the TCTsstate that the lots were registered in the name of Joaquin Agtarap, married to Caridada Garcia. However,Joseph, Gloria, and Teresa alleged that the two subject lots belong to the conjugal partnership of Joaquinwith Lucia. They presented proof that the TCTs shown by Eduardo were derived from a mother title, TCT No. 5239, dated March 17, 1920, in the name of Francisco Victor Barnes Y Joaquin Agtarap,

el primeroc a s a d o c o n E m i l i a M u s c a t , y e l S e g u n d o c o n L u c i a G a r c i a M e n d i e t t a (FRANCISCO VICTOR BARNES y JOAQUIN AGTARAP, the first married to Emilia Muscat, and the second married to LuciaGarcia

Mendietta. When TCT No. 5239 was divided between Francisco Barnes and Joaquin Agtarap,TCT No. 10864, in the name of Joaquin Agtarap, married to Lucia Garcia Mendietta, was issued for a parcel of land consisting of 8,872 square meters. This same lot was covered by TCT No. 5577( 3 2 1 8 4 ) i s s u e d o n A p r i l 2 3 , 1 9 3 7 , a l s o i n t h e n a m e o f J o a q u i n A g t a r a p , m a r r i e d t o L u c i a G a r c i a Mendietta. This TCT contained an annotation that per the order dated April 28, 1937 of Hon. Sixto de laC o s t a , p r e s i d i n g j u d g e o f t h e C o u r t o f F i r s t I n s t a n c e o f R i z a l , t h e p h r a s e c o n L u c i a G a r c i a Mendiet[t]a was crossed out and replaced by en segundas nuptias con Caridad Garcia , referring to thesecond marriage of Joaquin to Caridad. Thus, Joseph, Gloria, and Teresa alleged that upon Lucias deathin April 1924, they became the pro indiviso owners of the subject properties.T h e R T C i s s u e d a r e s o l u t i o n a p p o i n t i n g E d u a r d o a s r e g u l a r a d m i n i s t r a t o r o f J o a q u i n s estate. Consequently, on October 23, 2000, the RTC issued an Order of Partition after the parties weregiven the opportunity to be heard and to submit their respective proposed projects of partition.RTC denied the motions for reconsideration of Eduardo and Sebastian, and granting that of Josephand Teresa. It also declared that the real estate properties belonged to the conjugal partnership of Joaquinand Lucia. It also directed the modification of the October 23, 2000 Order of Partition to reflect thecorrect sharing of the heirs. However, before the RTC could issue a new order of partition, Eduardo andSebastian both appealed to the CA. CA dismissed the appeals and the consequent motions for reconsideration. ISSUE: Whether or not the RTC, acting as an intestate court, have the power and authority to determinequestions of ownership. RESOLUTION: The general rule is that the jurisdiction of the trial court, either as a probate or an intestate court,relates only to matters having to do with the probate of the will and/or settlement of the estate of deceased persons, but does not extend to the determination of questions of ownership that arise during the proceedings.As held in several cases, a probate court or one in charge of estate proceedings, whether testate or intestate, cannot adjudicate or determine title to properties claimed to be a part of the estate and which areclaimed to belong to outside parties, not by virtue of any right of inheritance from the deceased but byt i t l e a d v e r s e t o t h a t o f t h e d e c e a s e d a n d h i s e s t a t e . A l l t h a t t h e s a i d c o u r t c o u l d d o a s r e g a r d s s a i d properties is to determine whether or not they should be included in the inventory of properties to beadministered by the administrator. If there is no dispute, there poses no problem, but if there is, then the parties, the administrator, and the opposing parties have to resort to an ordinary action before a courtexercising general jurisdiction for a final determination of the conflicting claims of title.However, this general rule is subject to exceptions as justified by expediency and convenience.First, the probate court may provisionally pass upon in an intestate or a testate proceeding thequestion of inclusion in, or exclusion from, the inventory of a piece of property without prejudice to thefinal determination of ownership in a separate action. Second, if the interested parties are all heirs to theestate, or the question is one of collation or advancement, or the parties consent to the assumption of jurisdiction by the probate court and the rights of third parties are not impaired, then the probate court isc o m p e t e n t t o r e s o l v e i s s u e s o n o w n e r s h i p . V e r i l y , i t s j u r i s d i c t i o n e x t e n d s t o m a t t e r s i n c i d e n t a l o r coll ateral to the settlement and distribution of the estate, such as the determination of the status of eachheir and whether the property in the inventory is conjugal or exclusive property of the deceased spouse. The general rule does not apply to the instant case considering that the parties are all heirs of Joaquin and that no rights of third parties will be impaired by the resolution of the ownership issue. Moreimportantly, the determination of whether the subject properties are conjugal is but collateral to the probate courts jurisdiction to settle the estate of Joaquin.Section 2, Rule 73 of the Rules of Court provides that when the marriage is dissolved by the deathof the husband or the wife, the community property shall be inventoried, administered, and liquidated, andthe debts thereof paid; in the testate or intestate proceedings of the deceased spouse, and if both spouseshave died, the conjugal partnership shall be liquidated in the testate or intestate proceedings of either.T h u s , t h e R T C h a d j u r i s d i c t i o n t o d e t e r m i n e w h e t h e r t h e p r o p e r t i e s a r e c o n j u g a l a s i t h a d t o liquidate the conjugal partnership to determine the estate of the decedent. In fact, should Joseph andTeresa institute a settlement proceeding for the intestate estate of Lucia, the same should be consolidatedwith the settlement proceedings of Joaquin, being Lucias spouse.