PALS Special Proceedings Reminders

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  1 | 13 SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS  A foresight to the bar exam  A last minute reminder By: ATTY. GEMY LITO L. FESTIN Dean, Polytechnic University of the Philippines Professor of Criminal Law Review/Remedial Law subjects, SSC-R and PUP President, IBP MANILA I SPECIAL PROCEEDING.  It is an application to establish the status or right of a party or a particular fact or any remedy other than an ordinary suit in a court of justice. DISTINGUISH SPECIAL PROCEEDING FROM AN ORDINARY ACTION. Pursuant to Rule 1, Section 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, a civil action is one by which a party sues another for the enforcement or protection of a right, or the prevention or redress of a wrong while a special proceeding under the same rule is a remedy by which a party seeks to establish a status, a right or a particular fact. Unlike actions, a special proceeding is generally commenced by application, petition or special form of pleading as may be provided for by the particular rule or law.    SEC. 2, RULE 72 OF THE 1997 RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE PROVIDES THAT IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIAL PROVISIONS, THE RULES PROVIDED FOR IN ORDINARY ACTIONS SHALL BE, AS FAR  AS PRACTICABLE, APPLICABLE IN SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS  .  The w ord “practicable” is defined as possible to practice or perform; capable of being put into practice, done or accomplished. This means that in the absence of special provisions, rules in ordinary actions may be applied in special proceedings as much as possible and in doing so would not pose an obstacle to said proceedings. Nowhere in the Rules of Court can we find that rules in ordinary actions are inapplicable or merely suppletory to special proceedings. JURISDICTION OVER PROBATE PROCEEDING. Pursuant to R.A. No. 7691, jurisdiction depends upon the gross value of the estate of the decedent. In Metro Manila, the municipal trial court has jurisdiction on the proceeding if the value of the estate does not exceed P400, 000.00, otherwise, the regional trial court has jurisdiction over the same. Outside Metro Manila, municipal trial courts, metropolitan trial courts and municipal circuit trial courts have jurisdiction over probate proceedings if the gross value of the estate left by the decedent does not exceed P300,000.00 (beginning April 16, 2004). IMPORTANCE OF THE DECEDENT’S RESIDENCE. The residence of the decedent at the time of his death is determinative of the venue of the proceeding. It is only when the decedent is a non-resident of the Philippines at the time of his death that venue lies in any province in which he had estate.   CAN A PROBATE COURT ISSUE WRITS OF EXECUTION? As a rule, the probate court cannot issue writs of execution. The exceptions are the following: 1. To satisfy the contributive shares of the devisees, legatees and heirs on possession of the decedent’s assets as laid down in Rule 88 Sec.6 ; 2. To enforce payment of the expenses of partition under Rule 90 Sec.3;  3. To satisfy the cost when a person is cited for examination in probate proceedings under Rule 142 Sec. 13. RULE 74-SUMMARY SETTLEMENT OF ESTATES The general rule is: when a person dies leaving property, the same should be  judicially administered and the competent court should appoint a qualified administrator, in the order established in Section 6, Rule 78, in case the deceased left no will, or in case he had left one, should he fail to name an executor therein . This Rule provides exceptions, namely:(1) Extrajudicial settlement (Sec.1);(2) Summary settlement of estates of small value (Sec. 2).  DISTINCTION BETWEEN EXTRAJUDICIAL SETTLEMENT AND SUMMARY SETTLEMENT OF ESTATES OF SMALL VALUE. EXTRAJUDICIAL SETTLEMENT SUMMARY SETTLEMENT 1. Requires no court intervention.   Requires court intervention by summary proceedings   2. The value of the estate is immaterial. Applicable where the gross value of the estate is P10,000.00. The amount is jurisdictional. 3. Allowed only in intestate succession. Allowed in both testate and intestate estates. 4. Proper when there are no outstanding debts of the estate at the time of the settlement. available even if there are debts. 5. Instituted by agreement of all heirs. Instituted by any interested party and even by a creditor of the estate, without the consent of all the heirs. - Publication does not constitute constructive notice.  As held in the case of BENATIRO v. HEIRS OF CUYOS 560 SCRA 478, Extrajudicial Settlement of Estates under Section 1 of Rule 74 is an ex parte  proceeding, and the rule plainly states that persons who do not participate or had no notice of an extrajudicial settlement will not be bound thereby, and contemplates a notice that has been sent out or issued before any deed of settlement or partition is  2 | 13 agreed upon, and not after such an agreement has already been executed; The publication of the settlement does not constitute constructive notice to the heirs who had no knowledge or did not take  part in it because the same was notice after the fact of execution; The requirement of publication is  geared for the protection of creditors and was never intended to deprive heirs of their lawful  participation in the decedent’s estate. WHAT IS AN AFFIDAVIT OF SELF- ADJUDICATION? It is an affidavit required by Section 1 of Rule 74. The same is to be executed by the sole heir of a deceased person for the purpose of adjudicating to himself the entire estate left by the decedent. RECENT CASES: REBUSQUILLO [substituted by her heirs, except Emelinda R. Gualvez] and OROSCO, Petitioners,  vs. SPS. GUALVEZ and the CITY ASSESSOR OF LEGAZPI CITY, Respondents. G.R. No. 204029 JUNE 4, 2014 SC Ruling: It has been ruled that the declaration of heirship must be made in a special proceeding, not in an independent civil action. This Court likewise held that recourse to administration proceedings to determine the heirs is sanctioned only if there is a good and compelling reason for such recourse. Hence, the Court had allowed exceptions to the rule requiring administration proceedings as when the parties in the civil case already presented their evidence regarding the issue of heirship, and the RTC had consequently rendered judgment upon the issues it defined during the pre-trial. In Portugal v. Portugal-Beltran, the Court held that the respondent, believing rightly or wrongly that she was the sole heir to Portugal’s estate, executed on February 15, 1988 the questioned Affidavit of Adjudication under the second sentence of Section 1, Rule 74 of the Revised Rules of Court. Said rule is an exception to the general rule that when a person dies leaving a property, it should be judicially administered and the competent court should appoint a qualified administrator, in the order established in Sec. 6 of Rule 78 in case the deceased left no will, or in case he did, he failed to name an executor therein. Petitioners claim, however, to be the exclusive heirs of Portugal. A probate or intestate court, no doubt, has jurisdiction to declare who are the heirs of a deceased. In light of the admission of respondent-spouses Gualvez, it is with more reason that a resort to special proceeding will be an unnecessary superfluity. Accordingly, the court a quo had properly rendered judgment on the validity of the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication executed by Avelina. As pointed out by the trial court, an Affidavit of Self-Adjudication is only proper when the affiant is the sole heir of the decedent. The second sentence of Section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court is patently clear that self-adjudication is only warranted when there is only one heir: Section 1. Extrajudicial settlement by agreement between heirs. ––  x x x If there is only one heir, he may adjudicate to himself the entire estate by means of an affidavit filed in the office of the register of deeds. x x x (emphasis supplied) As admitted by respondents, Avelina was not the sole heir of Eulalio. In fact, petitioner Salvador is one of the co-heirs by right of representation of his mother. Without a doubt, Avelina had perjured herself when she declared in the affidavit that she is the only daughter and sole heir of spouses EULALIO ABARIENTOS AND VICTORIA VILLAREAL.   The falsity of this claim renders her act of adjudicating to herself the inheritance left by her father invalid. RULE 75-PRODUCTION OF WILL. ALLOWANCE OF WILL NECESSARY  SEC.1. No will shall pass either real or personal estate unless it is proved and allowed in the  proper court. Subject to the right of appeal, such allowance of the will shall be conclusive as to its due execution. Principles: 1. the probate of a will is mandatory. 2. Until admitted to probate, [a will] has no effect and no right can be claimed thereunder. 3.   A decree of probate is conclusive with respect to the due execution of the will and it cannot be impugned except on the ground of fraud, in any separate or independent action or proceeding. Manahan vs. Manahan, 58 Phil. 448, 451 4. In a special proceeding for the probate of a will, the issue, by and large, is restricted to the extrinsic validity of the will, i.e. whether the testator, being of sound mind, freely executed the will in accordance with the formalities prescribed by law. As a rule, the question of ownership is an extraneous matter which the probate court cannot resolve with finality. 5. The general rule provides that a probate court cannot decide a question of title of ownership. Are there any exception to the rule? The probate court may pass upon the question of title to property on the following: (a) The interested parties who are all heirs of the deceased consent thereto and the interests of third  parties are not prejudiced; (b) In a provisional manner, to determine whether said property should be included in or excluded from the inventory, without prejudice to the final determination of title in a separate action. 6. Due execution covers the following : 1. The will was executed in accordance with the strict formalities of the law;   2. The testator was of sound and disposing mind at the time of the execution of the will;   3. Consent is not vitiated by any duress, fear or threats;   4. The will was not procured by any undue influence from the beneficiary or by some other person for his benefit;   5. The signature of the testator is genuine; 6. The doctrine of estoppel is not applicable in probate proceedings since the presentation and the probate of a will are required by public policy. 7. In a special proceeding for the probate of a will, the issue by and large, is restricted to the extrinsic validity of the will, i.e. whether the testator, being of sound mind, freely executed the will in accordance with the formalities prescribed by law. As a rule, the question of ownership is an extraneous matter which the probate court cannot resolve with finality. 8. Section 3, Rule 75 of the Rules of Court  3 | 13 is explicit.   A person named as executor in a will shall, within twenty (20) days after he knows of the death of the testator, or within twenty (20) days after he knows that he is named executor if he obtained such knowledge after the death of the testator, present such will to the court having jurisdiction. Considering that Cancio Vidal is named as executor in the will, he is therefore obliged to file a petition for probate of the will. RULE 77-ALLOWANCE OF WILL PROVED OUTSIDE THE PHILIPPINES  SEC.1 PROVIDES THAT WILLS PROVED  AND  ALLOWED IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY,  ACCORDING TO THE LAWS OF SUCH COUNTRY, MAY BE ALLOWED, FILED, AND RECORDED BY THE PROPER COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE IN THE PHILIPPINES.  A WILL PROBATED IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY. Sec. 1 of    Rule 77 provides that a will proved and allowed in a foreign country must be re- probated in the Philippines. If the decedent owns properties in different countries, separate proceedings must be had to cover the same.  MATTERS NEED TO BE PROVEN DURING A RE-PROBATE PROCEEDING. At the re-probate proceedings in the Philippines, the proponent must prove (a) that the testator was domiciled in the foreign country, (b) that the will has been admitted to probate in such country, (c) that the foreign court was, under the laws of said foreign country, a probate court with jurisdiction over the proceedings,(d) the law on probate procedure in the said foreign country is a proof of compliance therewith, and (e) the legal requirements in said foreign country for the valid execution of the will .  RULE 78-LETTERS TESTAMENTARY AND OF  ADMINISTRATION  SEC. 1. WHO ARE INCOMPETENT TO SERVE AS EXECUTORS OR ADMINISTRATORS.   No person is competent to serve as executor or administrator who: (a) is a minor; (b) is not a resident of the Philippines; and (c) is in the opinion of the court unfit to execute the duties of the trust by reason of drunkenness, improvidence, or want of understanding or integrity, or by reason of conviction of an offense involving moral turpitude. -If no executor is named in the will, or the executor or executors are incompetent, refuse the trust, or fail to give bond, or a person dies intestate, administration shall be granted: (a) To the surviving husband or wife, as the case may be, or next of kin, or both, in the discretion of the court, or to such person as such surviving husband or wife, or next of kin, requests to have appointed, if competent and willing to serve; (b) If such surviving husband or wife, as the case may be, or next of kin, or the person selected by them, be incompetent or unwilling, or if the husband or widow, or next of kin, neglects for thirty (30) days after the death of the person to apply for administration or to request that administration be granted to some other person, it may be granted to one or more of the principal creditors, if competent and willing to serve; (c) If there is no such creditor competent and willing to serve, it may be granted to such other person as the court may select. CAN THE COURT SET ASIDE THE ORDER OF PREFERENCE UNDER SEC. 6, RULE 78? As a general rule, the court cannot. The Rules of Court provides for the order of preference in the appointment of an administrator. Ventura vs. Ventura 160 SCRA 810  UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES MAY THE COURT REJECT THE ORDER OF PREFERENCE? In case the persons who have the preferential right to be appointed under the Rules are not competent or are unwilling to serve, administration may be granted to such other person as the court may appoint. RECENT CASES:  ARANAS, Petitioner,  vs. MERCADO, ET. AL, Respondents. G.R. No. 156407 January 15, 2014. SC Ruling: Under Section 6 (a), Rule 78 of the Rules of Court, the letters of administration may be granted at the discretion of the court to the surviving spouse, who is competent and willing to serve when the person dies intestate. Upon issuing the letters of administration to the surviving spouse, the RTC becomes duty-bound to direct the preparation and submission of the inventory of the properties of the estate, and the surviving spouse, as the administrator, has the duty and responsibility to submit the inventory within three months from the issuance of letters of administration pursuant to Rule 83 of the Rules of Court, viz.: Section 1. Inventory and appraisal to be returned within three months. —  Within three (3) months after his appointment every executor or administrator shall return to the court a true inventory and appraisal of all the real and personal estate of the deceased which has come into his possession or knowledge. In the appraisement of such estate, the court may order one or more of the inheritance tax appraisers to give his or their assistance. The usage of the word “all” in Section 1, supra, demands the inclusion of all the real and personal properties of the decedent in the inventory . However, the word “all” is qualified by the phrase which has come into his possession or knowledge, which signifies that the properties must be known  4 | 13 to the administrator as decedent’s properties or are in her possession as the administrator. Section 1 allows no exception, for the phrase true inventory implies that no properties which appear to be owned by the decedent can be excluded from the inventory, regardless of whether or not they are in the possession of another person or entity. The objective of the Rules of Court in requiring the inventory and appraisal of the estate of the decedent is to aid the court in revising the accounts and determining the liabilities of the executor or the administrator, and in malting a final and equitable distribution (partition) of the estate and then to facilitate the administration of the estate. Hence, the RTC that presides over the administration of an estate is vested with wide discretion on the question of what properties should be included in the inventory. According to Peralta v. Peralta, the CA cannot impose its judgment in order to supplant that of the RTC on the issue of which properties are to be included or excluded from the inventory in the absence of positive abuse of discretion, for in the administration of the estates of deceased persons, the judges enjoy ample discretionary powers and the appellate courts should not interfere with or attempt to replace the action taken by them, unless it be shown that there has been a positive abuse of discretion. As long as the RTC commits no patently grave abuse of discretion, its orders must be respected as part of the regular performance of its judicial duty. There is no dispute that the jurisdiction of the trial court as an intestate court is special and limited. The trial court cannot adjudicate title to properties which are claimed to be part of the estate but are claimed to be belonging to third parties by title adverse to that of the decedent and the estate, not by virtue of any right of inheritance from the decedent. All that the trial court can do regarding said properties is to determine whether or not they should be included in the inventory of properties to be administered by the administrator. Such determination is provisional and may be still revised. As the Court said in Agtarap v. Agtarap: The general rule is that the jurisdiction of the trial court, either as a probate court 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. The patent rationale for this rule is that such court merely exercises special and limited jurisdiction. 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 the question of inclusion in, or exclusion from, the inventory of a piece of property without prejudice to final determination of ownership in a separate action. Second, if the interested parties are all heirs to the estate, 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 is competent to resolve issues on ownership. Verily, its jurisdiction extends to matters incidental or collateral to the settlement and distribution of the estate, such as the determination of the status of each heir and whether the property in the inventory is conjugal or exclusive property of the deceased spouse. RULE 80- SPECIAL ADMINISTRATOR  Sec. 1 provides that when there is delay in  granting letters testamentary or of administration by any cause including an appeal from the allowance or disallowance of a will, the court may appoint a special administrator to take possession and charge of the estate of the deceased until the questions causing the delay are decided and executors or administrators appointed  . DEFINE A SPECIAL ADMINISTRATOR. A special administrator is a representative of decedent appointed by the probate court to care for and preserve his estate until an executor or general administrator is appointed. - The appointment of a special administrator cannot be the subject of an appeal. No appeal lies from the appointment of a special administrator. An order appointing a special administrator is interlocutory in nature, a mere incident to the judicial proceedings. The court making the appointment retains control over it modify, rescind, or revoke the same on sufficient grounds at any time before final judgment. DIFFERENTIATE AN ADMINISTRATOR FROM A SPECIAL ADMINISTRATOR. The administrator may be differentiated from a special administrator in the following manner: 1. An administrator i s appointed when a decedent died intestate or did not appoint any executor in his will or the will is subsequently disallowed while a special administrator   is appointed when there is delay in granting letters testamentary or administration; 2. An administrator   is obliged to pay the debts of the estate while a special administrator is not; 3. The appointment of an administrator   may be the subject of appeal while in the appointment of a special administrator  , the order of appointment is regarded as an interlocutory order and may not be the subject of appeal. IS THE PREFERENCE OR ORDER OF  APPOINTMENT UNDER SECTION 6 OF RULE 78 LIKEWISE APPLICABLE IN THE APPOINTMENT OF A SPECIAL ADMINISTRATOR? Appointment of special administrator lies entirely in the sound discretion of the court. The preference laid down under Section 6 of Rule 78 with respect to the surviving spouse refers to the appointment of a regular administrator or administratix and not to that of a special administrator. Pijuan vs. De Gurrea, 124 Phil. 1527   IS THE ORDER OF REMOVAL OF AN  ADMINISTRATOR APPEALABLE? Yes, the order of removal is appealable.  RULE 86-CLAIMS AGAINST ESTATE  SEC. 2. TIME WITHIN WHICH CLAIMS SHALL BE FILED. - In the notice provided in the preceding  section (sec. 1), the court shall state the time for the filing of claims against the estate, which  shall not be more than twelve (12) nor less than  six (6) months after the date of the first  publication of the notice. However, at any time before an order of distribution is entered, on application of a creditor who has failed to file his claim within the time previously limited, the
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