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BALANAY vs MARTINEZ (c) it instituted his children as legatees/devisees of

GR L-46430-31, 64 SCRA 452 July 30, 1979 certain specific properties, and as to the rest of the
properties and whatever may be subsequently acquired
Digest by Pearlie Joy M. Suarez in the future, before his death, were to be given to
Francisca and Pablo, naming Francesca as executrix to
DOCTRINE: Where a husband and wife executed a joint will serve without a bond.
and upon the death of the husband said will was admitted to
probate by a final decree of the court although erroneous, and Petitioner herein Francisca Alsua Betts, as the executrix named
the wife dies later, it is held that said first decree of probate in the will executed on November 14, 1959, filed a petition for
affects only the estate of the husband but cannot affect the the probate of said new will of Don Jesus Alsua.
estate of the wife, considering that a joint will is a separate will
of each testator; and a joint will being prohibited by law, the Oppositions thereto were filed by the other siblings (private
estate of the wife should pass upon her death to her intestate respondents) on the grounds, among others, that Don Jesus
heirs and not to the testamentary heir, unless some other valid was not of sound and disposing mind at the time of the
will is shown to exist in favor of the latter or unless the execution of the alleged will and that the will was executed
testamentary heir is the only heir of said wife. under duress or influence of fear or threats.

RTC: Approved and admitted the will executed by Don Jesus

Facts: On November 25, 1949, Don Jesus Alsua and his wife,
on November 14, 1959 (new will).
Doña Florentina Rella, both of Ligao, Albay, together with all
their living children, Francisca Alsua-Betts, Pablo Alsua,
CA: Reversed the trial court’s decision.
Fernando Alsua, and Amparo Alsua de Buenviaje, entered into
a duly notarized agreement, Escritura de Particion Extrajudicial
(extra-judicial partition), over the then present and existing Issue 1: Whether or not the oppositors to the probate of the
properties of the spouses Don Jesus and Doña Florentina. In will are in estoppel to question the competence of testator Don
the provision of said extra-judicial partition, each of the four Jesus Alsua.
children was allotted with the properties considered as their
share in the estate or as inheritance left by the deceased where Ruling: ESTOPPEL, not applicable.
they will be the absolute ownerof the properties assigned in
case of death of one of the spouses. The principle of estoppel is not applicable in probate
proceedings, a ruling laid down in the case of Testate Estate of
On January 5, 1955, Don Jesus and Doña Florentina, separately the Late Procopia Apostol Benedicta Obispo, et al vs. Remedios
executed their respective holographic wills the provisions of Obispo penned by Justice J.B.L. Reyes:
which were in conformity and in implementation of the
extrajudicial partition of November 25, 1949. Finally, probate proceedings involve public interest, and
the application therein of the rule of estoppel, when it will
On May 21, 1956, the spouses filed before the Court of First block the ascertainment of the truth as to the
Instance of Albay their respective petitions for the probate of circumstances surrounding the execution of a testament,
their respective holographic wills. would seem inimical to public policy. Over and above the
interest of private parties is that of the state to see that
On August 14, 1956, the spouses executed their mutual and testamentary dispositions be carried out if, and only if,
reciprocal codicils amending and supplementing their executed conformably to law.
respective holographic wills. Again, the codicils similarly
acknowledged and provided that one-half of all the properties
of the spouses, conjugal and paraphernal, had been disposed Issue 2: WON Don Jesus was bound by the extrajudicial
of, conveyed to and partitioned among their legitimate heirs in partition of November 25, 1949 which he conformed by making
the "Escritura de Particion" of November 25, 1949, but that a holographic will and codicil with exactly the same provisions.
they reserved for themselves the other half or those not
disposed of to the said legitimate heirs under the above Ruling: Don Jesus was not forever bound thereby for his
agreement of partition, and that they mutually and reciprocally previous holographic will and codicil as such, would
bequeathed unto each other their participation therein as well remain revokable at his discretion.
as in all properties which might be acquired subsequently.
Art. 828 of the new Civil Code is clear: "A will may be revoked
by the testator at any time before his death. Any waiver or
Upon the death of Doña Florentina on October 2, 1959, Don
restriction of this right is void."
Jesus was named executor to serve without bond in an order
issued by the probate court on October 13, 1959.
There can be no restriction that may be made on his absolute
freedom to revoke his holographic will and codicil previously
NEW WILL: Thereafter in the early part of November, 1959,
made. This would still hold true even if such previous will had
Don Jesus cancelled his holographic will in the presence of his
as in the case at bar already been probated. For in the first
bookkeeper and secretary, Esteban P. Ramirez, whom he
place, probate only authenticates the will and does not pass
instructed to make a list of all his remaining properties with
upon the efficacy of the dispositions therein. And secondly, the
their corresponding descriptions. His lawyer, Atty. Gregorio
rights to the succession are transmitted only from the moment
imperial Sr. was then instructed to draft a new will which was
of the death of the decedent (Article 777, New Civil Code).
duly signed by Don Jesus and his attesting witnesses. This
notarial will had three essential features:
In fine, Don Jesus retained the liberty of disposing of his
property before his death to whomsoever he chose, provided
(a) it expressly cancelled, revoked and annulled all the
provisions of Don Jesus' holographic will of January 5, the legitime of the forced heirs are not prejudiced, which is not
1955 and his codicil of August 14, 1956; herein claimed for it is undisputed that only the free portion of
(b) it provided for the collation of all his properties the whole Alsua estate is being contested.
donated to his four living children by virtue of the
"Escritura de Particion Extra. judicial" of 1949, and that
such properties be taken into account in the partition of
his estate among the children; and