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G.R. No.

L-12105 January 30, 1960 in the same amount of cash and of shares of mining stock
similar to those given to testator's grandson; (3) legacies of
TESTATE ESTATE OF C. O. BOHANAN, deceased. P6,000 each to his (testator) son, Edward Gilbert Bohana, and
PHILIPPINE TRUST CO., executor-appellee, his daughter, Mary Lydia Bohanan, to be paid in three yearly
vs. installments; (4) legacies to Clara Daen, in the amount of
MAGDALENA C. BOHANAN, EDWARD C. BOHANAN, and P10,000.00; Katherine Woodward, P2,000; Beulah Fox,
MARY LYDIA BOHANAN, oppositors-appellants. P4,000; and Elizabeth Hastings, P2,000;

Jose D. Cortes for appellants. It will be seen from the above that out of the total estate (after
Ohnick, Velilla and Balonkita for appellee. deducting administration expenses) of P211,639.33 in cash,
the testator gave his grandson P90,819.67 and one-half of all
shares of stock of several mining companies and to his brother
LABRADOR, J.: and sister the same amount. To his children he gave a legacy
of only P6,000 each, or a total of P12,000.
Appeal against an order of the Court of First Instance of
Manila, Hon. Ramon San Jose, presiding, dismissing the The wife Magadalena C. Bohanan and her two children
objections filed by Magdalena C. Bohanan, Mary Bohanan and question the validity of the testamentary provisions disposing of
Edward Bohanan to the project of partition submitted by the the estate in the manner above indicated, claiming that they
executor and approving the said project. have been deprived of the legitimate that the laws of the form
concede to them.
On April 24, 195 0, the Court of First Instance of Manila, Hon.
Rafael Amparo, presiding, admitted to probate a last will and The first question refers to the share that the wife of the
testament of C. O. Bohanan, executed by him on April 23, testator, Magdalena C. Bohanan, should be entitled to
1944 in Manila. In the said order, the court made the following received. The will has not given her any share in the estate left
findings: by the testator. It is argued that it was error for the trial court to
have recognized the Reno divorce secured by the testator from
According to the evidence of the opponents the his Filipino wife Magdalena C. Bohanan, and that said divorce
testator was born in Nebraska and therefore a citizen should be declared a nullity in this jurisdiction, citing the case
of that state, or at least a citizen of California where of Querubin vs. Querubin, 87 Phil., 124, 47 Off. Gaz., (Sup, 12)
some of his properties are located. This contention in 315, Cousins Hiz vs. Fluemer, 55 Phil., 852, Ramirez vs.
untenable. Notwithstanding the long residence of the Gmur, 42 Phil., 855 and Gorayeb vs. Hashim, 50 Phil., 22. The
decedent in the Philippines, his stay here was merely court below refused to recognize the claim of the widow on the
temporary, and he continued and remained to be a ground that the laws of Nevada, of which the deceased was a
citizen of the United States and of the state of his citizen, allow him to dispose of all of his properties without
pertinent residence to spend the rest of his days in requiring him to leave any portion of his estate to his wife.
that state. His permanent residence or domicile in the Section 9905 of Nevada Compiled Laws of 1925 provides:
United States depended upon his personal intent or
desire, and he selected Nevada as his homicide and Every person over the age of eighteen years, of
therefore at the time of his death, he was a citizen of sound mind, may, by last will, dispose of all his or her
that state. Nobody can choose his domicile or estate, real and personal, the same being chargeable
permanent residence for him. That is his exclusive with the payment of the testator's debts.
personal right.
Besides, the right of the former wife of the testator, Magdalena
Wherefore, the court finds that the testator C. O. C. Bohanan, to a share in the testator's estafa had already
Bohanan was at the time of his death a citizen of the been passed upon adversely against her in an order dated
United States and of the State of Nevada and June 19, 1955, (pp. 155-159, Vol II Records, Court of First
declares that his will and testament, Exhibit A, is fully Instance), which had become final, as Magdalena C. Bohanan
in accordance with the laws of the state of Nevada does not appear to have appealed therefrom to question its
and admits the same to probate. Accordingly, the validity. On December 16, 1953, the said former wife filed a
Philippine Trust Company, named as the executor of motion to withdraw the sum of P20,000 from the funds of the
the will, is hereby appointed to such executor and estate, chargeable against her share in the conjugal property,
upon the filing of a bond in the sum of P10,000.00, let (See pp. 294-297, Vol. I, Record, Court of First Instance), and
letters testamentary be issued and after taking the the court in its said error found that there exists no community
prescribed oath, it may enter upon the execution and property owned by the decedent and his former wife at the time
performance of its trust. (pp. 26-27, R.O.A.). the decree of divorce was issued. As already and Magdalena
C. Bohanan may no longer question the fact contained therein,
It does not appear that the order granting probate was ever i.e. that there was no community property acquired by the
questions on appeal. The executor filed a project of partition testator and Magdalena C. Bohanan during their converture.
dated January 24, 1956, making, in accordance with the
provisions of the will, the following adjudications: (1) one-half of Moreover, the court below had found that the testator and
the residuary estate, to the Farmers and Merchants National Magdalena C. Bohanan were married on January 30, 1909,
Bank of Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. in trust only for the and that divorce was granted to him on May 20, 1922; that
benefit of testator's grandson Edward George Bohanan, which sometime in 1925, Magdalena C. Bohanan married Carl Aaron
consists of several mining companies; (2) the other half of the and this marriage was subsisting at the time of the death of the
residuary estate to the testator's brother, F.L. Bohanan, and his testator. Since no right to share in the inheritance in favor of a
sister, Mrs. M. B. Galbraith, share and share alike. This consist divorced wife exists in the State of Nevada and since the court
1
below had already found that there was no conjugal property In addition, the other appellants, children of the testator, do not
between the testator and Magdalena C. Bohanan, the latter dispute the above-quoted provision of the laws of the State of
can now have no longer claim to pay portion of the estate left Nevada. Under all the above circumstances, we are
by the testator. constrained to hold that the pertinent law of Nevada, especially
Section 9905 of the Compiled Nevada Laws of 1925, can be
The most important issue is the claim of the testator's children, taken judicial notice of by us, without proof of such law having
Edward and Mary Lydia, who had received legacies in the been offered at the hearing of the project of partition.
amount of P6,000 each only, and, therefore, have not been
given their shares in the estate which, in accordance with the As in accordance with Article 10 of the old Civil Code, the
laws of the forum, should be two-thirds of the estate left by the validity of testamentary dispositions are to be governed by the
testator. Is the failure old the testator to give his children two- national law of the testator, and as it has been decided and it is
thirds of the estate left by him at the time of his death, in not disputed that the national law of the testator is that of the
accordance with the laws of the forum valid? State of Nevada, already indicated above, which allows a
testator to dispose of all his property according to his will, as in
The old Civil Code, which is applicable to this case because the case at bar, the order of the court approving the project of
the testator died in 1944, expressly provides that successional partition made in accordance with the testamentary provisions,
rights to personal property are to be earned by the national law must be, as it is hereby affirmed, with costs against appellants.
of the person whose succession is in question. Says the law on
this point: Paras, Bengzon, C.J., Padilla, Bautista Angelo and Endencia,
JJ., concur.
Nevertheless, legal and testamentary successions, in Barrera, J., concurs in the result.
respect to the order of succession as well as to the
extent of the successional rights and the intrinsic
validity of their provisions, shall be regulated by the The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation
national law of the person whose succession is in
question, whatever may be the nature of the property
and the country in which it is found. (par. 2, Art. 10,
old Civil Code, which is the same as par. 2 Art. 16,
new Civil Code.)

In the proceedings for the probate of the will, it was found out
and it was decided that the testator was a citizen of the State of
Nevada because he had selected this as his domicile and his
permanent residence. (See Decision dated April 24, 1950,
supra). So the question at issue is whether the estementary
dispositions, especially hose for the children which are short of
the legitime given them by the Civil Code of the Philippines, are
valid. It is not disputed that the laws of Nevada allow a testator
to dispose of all his properties by will (Sec. 9905, Complied
Nevada Laws of 1925, supra). It does not appear that at time of
the hearing of the project of partition, the above-quoted
provision was introduced in evidence, as it was the executor's
duly to do. The law of Nevada, being a foreign law can only be
proved in our courts in the form and manner provided for by
our Rules, which are as follows:

SEC. 41. Proof of public or official record. — An


official record or an entry therein, when admissible for
any purpose, may be evidenced by an official
publication thereof or by a copy tested by the officer
having the legal custody of he record, or by his
deputy, and accompanied, if the record is not kept in
the Philippines, with a certificate that such officer has
the custody. . . . (Rule 123).

We have, however, consulted the records of the case in the


court below and we have found that during the hearing on
October 4, 1954 of the motion of Magdalena C. Bohanan for
withdrawal of P20,000 as her share, the foreign law, especially
Section 9905, Compiled Nevada Laws. was introduced in
evidence by appellant's (herein) counsel as Exhibits "2" (See
pp. 77-79, VOL. II, and t.s.n. pp. 24-44, Records, Court of First
Instance). Again said laws presented by the counsel for the
executor and admitted by the Court as Exhibit "B" during the
hearing of the case on January 23, 1950 before Judge Rafael
Amparo (se Records, Court of First Instance, Vol. 1).
2
legacies, or a total of P120,000.00, which it released from time
to time according as the lower court approved and allowed the
G.R. No. L-23678 June 6, 1967 various motions or petitions filed by the latter three requesting
partial advances on account of their respective legacies.
TESTATE ESTATE OF AMOS G. BELLIS, deceased.
PEOPLE'S BANK and TRUST COMPANY, executor. On January 8, 1964, preparatory to closing its administration,
MARIA CRISTINA BELLIS and MIRIAM PALMA BELLIS, the executor submitted and filed its "Executor's Final Account,
oppositors-appellants, Report of Administration and Project of Partition" wherein it
vs. reported, inter alia, the satisfaction of the legacy of Mary E.
EDWARD A. BELLIS, ET AL., heirs-appellees. Mallen by the delivery to her of shares of stock amounting to
$240,000.00, and the legacies of Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria
Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis in the amount of
Vicente R. Macasaet and Jose D. Villena for oppositors P40,000.00 each or a total of P120,000.00. In the project of
appellants. partition, the executor — pursuant to the "Twelfth" clause of the
Paredes, Poblador, Cruz and Nazareno for heirs-appellees E. testator's Last Will and Testament — divided the residuary
A. Bellis, et al. estate into seven equal portions for the benefit of the testator's
Quijano and Arroyo for heirs-appellees W. S. Bellis, et al. seven legitimate children by his first and second marriages.
J. R. Balonkita for appellee People's Bank & Trust Company.
Ozaeta, Gibbs and Ozaeta for appellee A. B. Allsman.
On January 17, 1964, Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma
Bellis filed their respective oppositions to the project of partition
BENGZON, J.P., J.: on the ground that they were deprived of their legitimes as
illegitimate children and, therefore, compulsory heirs of the
This is a direct appeal to Us, upon a question purely of law, deceased.
from an order of the Court of First Instance of Manila dated
April 30, 1964, approving the project of partition filed by the Amos Bellis, Jr. interposed no opposition despite notice to him,
executor in Civil Case No. 37089 therein.1äwphï1.ñët proof of service of which is evidenced by the registry receipt
submitted on April 27, 1964 by the executor.1
The facts of the case are as follows:
After the parties filed their respective memoranda and other
Amos G. Bellis, born in Texas, was "a citizen of the State of pertinent pleadings, the lower court, on April 30, 1964, issued
Texas and of the United States." By his first wife, Mary E. an order overruling the oppositions and approving the
Mallen, whom he divorced, he had five legitimate children: executor's final account, report and administration and project
Edward A. Bellis, George Bellis (who pre-deceased him in of partition. Relying upon Art. 16 of the Civil Code, it applied
infancy), Henry A. Bellis, Alexander Bellis and Anna Bellis the national law of the decedent, which in this case is Texas
Allsman; by his second wife, Violet Kennedy, who survived law, which did not provide for legitimes.
him, he had three legitimate children: Edwin G. Bellis, Walter
S. Bellis and Dorothy Bellis; and finally, he had three Their respective motions for reconsideration having been
illegitimate children: Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and denied by the lower court on June 11, 1964, oppositors-
Miriam Palma Bellis. appellants appealed to this Court to raise the issue of which
law must apply — Texas law or Philippine law.
On August 5, 1952, Amos G. Bellis executed a will in the
Philippines, in which he directed that after all taxes, obligations, In this regard, the parties do not submit the case on, nor even
and expenses of administration are paid for, his distributable discuss, the doctrine of renvoi, applied by this Court in Aznar v.
estate should be divided, in trust, in the following order and Christensen Garcia, L-16749, January 31, 1963. Said doctrine
manner: (a) $240,000.00 to his first wife, Mary E. Mallen; (b) is usually pertinent where the decedent is a national of one
P120,000.00 to his three illegitimate children, Amos Bellis, Jr., country, and a domicile of another. In the present case, it is not
Maria Cristina Bellis, Miriam Palma Bellis, or P40,000.00 each disputed that the decedent was both a national of Texas and a
and (c) after the foregoing two items have been satisfied, the domicile thereof at the time of his death.2 So that even
remainder shall go to his seven surviving children by his first assuming Texas has a conflict of law rule providing that the
and second wives, namely: Edward A. Bellis, Henry A. Bellis, domiciliary system (law of the domicile) should govern, the
Alexander Bellis and Anna Bellis Allsman, Edwin G. Bellis, same would not result in a reference back (renvoi) to Philippine
Walter S. Bellis, and Dorothy E. Bellis, in equal law, but would still refer to Texas law. Nonetheless, if Texas
shares.1äwphï1.ñët has a conflicts rule adopting the situs theory (lex rei sitae)
calling for the application of the law of the place where the
Subsequently, or on July 8, 1958, Amos G. Bellis died a properties are situated, renvoi would arise, since the properties
resident of San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A. His will was admitted to here involved are found in the Philippines. In the absence,
probate in the Court of First Instance of Manila on September however, of proof as to the conflict of law rule of Texas, it
15, 1958. should not be presumed different from ours.3 Appellants'
position is therefore not rested on the doctrine of renvoi. As
The People's Bank and Trust Company, as executor of the will, stated, they never invoked nor even mentioned it in their
paid all the bequests therein including the amount of arguments. Rather, they argue that their case falls under the
$240,000.00 in the form of shares of stock to Mary E. Mallen circumstances mentioned in the third paragraph of Article 17 in
and to the three (3) illegitimate children, Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria relation to Article 16 of the Civil Code.
Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis, various amounts
totalling P40,000.00 each in satisfaction of their respective

3
Article 16, par. 2, and Art. 1039 of the Civil Code, render ignored in regard to those matters that Article 10 — now Article
applicable the national law of the decedent, in intestate or 16 — of the Civil Code states said national law should govern.
testamentary successions, with regard to four items: (a) the
order of succession; (b) the amount of successional rights; (e) The parties admit that the decedent, Amos G. Bellis, was a
the intrinsic validity of the provisions of the will; and (d) the citizen of the State of Texas, U.S.A., and that under the laws of
capacity to succeed. They provide that — Texas, there are no forced heirs or legitimes. Accordingly,
since the intrinsic validity of the provision of the will and the
ART. 16. Real property as well as personal property is amount of successional rights are to be determined under
subject to the law of the country where it is situated. Texas law, the Philippine law on legitimes cannot be applied to
the testacy of Amos G. Bellis.
However, intestate and testamentary successions,
both with respect to the order of succession and to the Wherefore, the order of the probate court is hereby affirmed in
amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic toto, with costs against appellants. So ordered.
validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated
by the national law of the person whose succession is Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Regala, Makalintal,
under consideration, whatever may he the nature of Zaldivar, Sanchez and Castro, JJ., concur.
the property and regardless of the country wherein
said property may be found.

ART. 1039. Capacity to succeed is governed by the


law of the nation of the decedent. Footnotes

1He
Appellants would however counter that Art. 17, paragraph later filed a motion praying that as a legal heir he
three, of the Civil Code, stating that — be included in this case as one of the oppositors-
appellants; to file or adopt the opposition of his sisters
to the project of partition; to submit his brief after
Prohibitive laws concerning persons, their acts or paying his proportionate share in the expenses
property, and those which have for their object public incurred in the printing of the record on appeal; or to
order, public policy and good customs shall not be allow him to adopt the briefs filed by his sisters — but
rendered ineffective by laws or judgments this Court resolved to deny the motion.
promulgated, or by determinations or conventions
agreed upon in a foreign country. 2San Antonio, Texas was his legal residence.
prevails as the exception to Art. 16, par. 2 of the Civil Code 3Lim
afore-quoted. This is not correct. Precisely, Congress deleted vs. Collector, 36 Phil. 472; In re Testate Estate of
the phrase, "notwithstanding the provisions of this and the next Suntay, 95 Phil. 500.
preceding article" when they incorporated Art. 11 of the old
Civil Code as Art. 17 of the new Civil Code, while reproducing
without substantial change the second paragraph of Art. 10 of
the old Civil Code as Art. 16 in the new. It must have been their
purpose to make the second paragraph of Art. 16 a specific
provision in itself which must be applied in testate and intestate
succession. As further indication of this legislative intent,
Congress added a new provision, under Art. 1039, which
decrees that capacity to succeed is to be governed by the
national law of the decedent.

It is therefore evident that whatever public policy or good


customs may be involved in our System of legitimes, Congress
has not intended to extend the same to the succession of
foreign nationals. For it has specifically chosen to leave, inter
alia, the amount of successional rights, to the decedent's
national law. Specific provisions must prevail over general
ones.

Appellants would also point out that the decedent executed two
wills — one to govern his Texas estate and the other his
Philippine estate — arguing from this that he intended
Philippine law to govern his Philippine estate. Assuming that
such was the decedent's intention in executing a separate
Philippine will, it would not alter the law, for as this Court ruled
in Miciano v. Brimo, 50 Phil. 867, 870, a provision in a
foreigner's will to the effect that his properties shall be
distributed in accordance with Philippine law and not with his
national law, is illegal and void, for his national law cannot be

4
Registers of deeds shall not register in the registry of
property any document transferring real property or
G.R. No. L-35694 December 23, 1933 real rights therein or any chattel mortgage, by way of
gifts mortis causa, legacy or inheritance, unless the
payment of the tax fixed in this article and actually due
ALLISON G. GIBBS, petitioner-appelle, thereon shall be shown. And they shall immediately
vs. notify the Collector of Internal Revenue or the
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, corresponding provincial treasurer of the non payment
oppositor-appellant. of the tax discovered by them. . . .
THE REGISTER OF DEEDS OF THE CITY OF MANILA,
respondent-appellant.
Acting upon the authority of said section, the register of deeds
of the City of Manila, declined to accept as binding said decree
Office of the Solicitor-General Hilado for appellants. of court of September 22,1930, and refused to register the
Allison D. Gibbs in his own behalf. transfer of title of the said conjugal property to Allison D. Gibbs,
on the ground that the corresponding inheritance tax had not
been paid. Thereupon, under date of December 26, 1930,
Allison D. Gibbs filed in the said court a petition for an order
BUTTE, J.: requiring the said register of deeds "to issue the corresponding
titles" to the petitioner without requiring previous payment of
any inheritance tax. After due hearing of the parties, the court
This is an appeal from a final order of the Court of First reaffirmed said order of September 22, 1930, and entered the
Instance of Manila, requiring the register of deeds of the City of order of March 10, 1931, which is under review on this appeal.
Manila to cancel certificates of title Nos. 20880, 28336 and
28331, covering lands located in the City of Manila, Philippine
Islands, and issue in lieu thereof new certificates of transfer of On January 3, 1933, this court remanded the case to the court
title in favor of Allison D. Gibbs without requiring him to present of origin for new trial upon additional evidence in regard to the
any document showing that the succession tax due under pertinent law of California in force at the time of the death of
Article XI of Chapter 40 of the Administrative Code has been Mrs. Gibbs, also authorizing the introduction of evidence with
paid. reference to the dates of the acquisition of the property
involved in this suit and with reference to the California law in
force at the time of such acquisition. The case is now before us
The said order of the court of March 10, 1931, recites that the with the supplementary evidence.
parcels of land covered by said certificates of title formerly
belonged to the conjugal partnership of Allison D. Gibbs and
Eva Johnson Gibbs; that the latter died intestate in Palo Alto, For the purposes of this case, we shall consider the following
California, on November 28, 1929; that at the time of her death facts as established by the evidence or the admissions of the
she and her husband were citizens of the State of California parties: Allison D. Gibbs has been continuously, since the year
and domiciled therein. 1902, a citizen of the State of California and domiciled therein;
that he and Eva Johnson Gibbs were married at Columbus,
Ohio, in July 1906; that there was no antenuptial marriage
It appears further from said order that Allison D. Gibbs was contract between the parties; that during the existence of said
appointed administrator of the state of his said deceased wife marriage the spouses acquired the following lands, among
in case No. 36795 in the same court, entitled "In the Matter of others, in the Philippine Islands, as conjugal
the Intestate Estate of Eva Johnson Gibbs, Deceased"; that in property:lawphil.net
said intestate proceedings, the said Allison D. Gibbs, on
September 22,1930, filed an ex parte petition in which he
alleged "that the parcels of land hereunder described belong to 1. A parcel of land in the City of Manila represented by transfer
the conjugal partnership of your petitioner and his wife, Eva certificate of title No. 20880, dated March 16, 1920, and
Johnson Gibbs", describing in detail the three facts here registered in the name of "Allison D. Gibbs casado con Eva
involved; and further alleging that his said wife, a citizen and Johnson Gibbs".
resident of California, died on November 28,1929; that in
accordance with the law of California, the community property 2. A parcel of land in the City of Manila, represented by transfer
of spouses who are citizens of California, upon the death of the certificate of title No. 28336, dated May 14, 1927, in which it is
wife previous to that of the husband, belongs absolutely to the certified "that spouses Allison D. Gibbs and Eva Johnson
surviving husband without administration; that the conjugal Gibbs are the owners in fee simple" of the land therein
partnership of Allison D. Gibbs and Eva Johnson Gibbs, described.
deceased, has no obligations or debts and no one will be
prejudiced by adjucating said parcels of land (and seventeen 3. A parcel of land in the City of Manila, represented by transfer
others not here involved) to be the absolute property of the certificate of title No. 28331, dated April 6, 1927, which it states
said Allison D. Gibbs as sole owner. The court granted said "that Allison D. Gibbs married to Eva Johnson Gibbs" is the
petition and on September 22, 1930, entered a decree owner of the land described therein; that said Eva Johnson
adjucating the said Allison D. Gibbs to be the sole and absolute Gibbs died intestate on November 28, 1929, living surviving
owner of said lands, applying section 1401 of the Civil Code of her her husband, the appellee, and two sons, Allison J. Gibbs ,
California. Gibbs presented this decree to the register of deeds now age 25 and Finley J. Gibbs, now aged 22, as her sole
of Manila and demanded that the latter issue to him a "transfer heirs of law.
certificate of title".
Article XI of Chapter 40 of the Administrative Code entitled
Section 1547 of Article XI of Chapter 40 of the Administrative "Tax on inheritances, legacies and other acquisitions mortis
Code provides in part that:
5
causa" provides in section 1536 that "Every transmission by amount of the successional rights and the intrinsic
virtue of inheritance ... of real property ... shall be subject to the validity of their provisions, shall be regulated by the
following tax." It results that the question for determination in national law of the person whose succession is in
this case is as follows: Was Eva Johnson Gibbs at the time of question, whatever may be the nature of the property
her death the owner of a descendible interest in the Philippine or the country in which it may be situated.
lands above-mentioned?
In construing the above language we are met at the outset with
The appellee contends that the law of California should some difficulty by the expression "the national law of the
determine the nature and extent of the title, if any, that vested person whose succession is in question", by reason of the
in Eva Johnson Gibbs under the three certificates of title Nos. rather anomalous political status of the Philippine Islands. (Cf.
20880, 28336 and 28331 above referred to, citing article 9 of Manresa, vol. 1, Codigo Civil, pp. 103, 104.) We encountered
the Civil Code. But that, even if the nature and extent of her no difficulty in applying article 10 in the case of a citizen of
title under said certificates be governed by the law of the Turkey. (Miciano vs. Brimo, 50 Phil., 867.) Having regard to the
Philippine Islands, the laws of California govern the succession practical autonomy of the Philippine Islands, as above stated,
to such title, citing the second paragraph of article 10 of the we have concluded that if article 10 is applicable and the estate
Civil Code. in question is that of a deceased American citizen, the
succession shall be regulated in accordance with the norms of
Article 9 of the Civil Code is as follows: the State of his domicile in the United States. (Cf. Babcock
Templeton vs. Rider Babcock, 52 Phil., 130, 137; In re Estate
of Johnson, 39 Phil., 156, 166.)
The laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the
status, condition, and legal capacity of persons, are
binding upon Spaniards even though they reside in a The trial court found that under the law of California, upon the
foreign country." It is argued that the conjugal right of death of the wife, the entire community property without
the California wife in community real estate in the administration belongs to the surviving husband; that he is the
Philippine Islands is a personal right and must, absolute owner of all the community property from the moment
therefore, be settled by the law governing her of the death of his wife, not by virtue of succession or by virtue
personal status, that is, the law of California. But our of her death, but by virtue of the fact that when the death of the
attention has not been called to any law of California wife precedes that of the husband he acquires the community
that incapacitates a married woman from acquiring or property, not as an heir or as the beneficiary of his deceased
holding land in a foreign jurisdiction in accordance wife, but because she never had more than an inchoate
with the lex rei sitae. There is not the slightest doubt interest or expentancy which is extinguished upon her death.
that a California married woman can acquire title to Quoting the case of Estate of Klumpke (167 Cal., 415, 419),
land in a common law jurisdiction like the State of the court said: "The decisions under this section (1401 Civil
Illinois or the District of Columbia, subject to the Code of California) are uniform to the effect that the husband
common-law estate by the courtesy which would vest does not take the community property upon the death of the
in her husband. Nor is there any doubt that if a wife by succession, but that he holds it all from the moment of
California husband acquired land in such a jurisdiction her death as though required by himself. ... It never belonged
his wife would be vested with the common law right of to the estate of the deceased wife."
dower, the prerequisite conditions obtaining. Article 9
of the Civil Code treats of purely personal relations The argument of the appellee apparently leads to this dilemma:
and status and capacity for juristic acts, the rules If he takes nothing by succession from his deceased wife, how
relating to property, both personal and real, being can the second paragraph of article 10 be invoked? Can the
governed by article 10 of the Civil Code. Furthermore, appellee be heard to say that there is a legal succession under
article 9, by its very terms, is applicable only to the law of the Philippine Islands and no legal succession under
"Spaniards" (now, by construction, to citizens of the the law of California? It seems clear that the second paragraph
Philippine Islands). of article 10 applies only when a legal or testamentary
succession has taken place in the Philippines and in
The Organic Act of the Philippine Islands (Act of accordance with the law of the Philippine Islands; and the
Congress, August 29, 1916, known as the "Jones foreign law is consulted only in regard to the order of
Law") as regards the determination of private rights, succession or the extent of the successional rights; in other
grants practical autonomy to the Government of the words, the second paragraph of article 10 can be invoked only
Philippine Islands. This Government, therefore, may when the deceased was vested with a descendible interest in
apply the principles and rules of private international property within the jurisdiction of the Philippine Islands.
law (conflicts of laws) on the same footing as an
organized territory or state of the United States. We In the case of Clarke vs. Clarke (178 U. S., 186, 191; 44 Law
should, therefore, resort to the law of California, the ed., 1028, 1031), the court said:
nationality and domicile of Mrs. Gibbs, to ascertain the
norm which would be applied here as law were there It is principle firmly established that to the law of the
any question as to her status. state in which the land is situated we must look for the
rules which govern its descent, alienation, and
But the appellant's chief argument and the sole basis of the transfer, and for the effect and construction of wills
lower court's decision rests upon the second paragraph of and other conveyances. (United States vs. Crosby, 7
article 10 of the Civil Code which is as follows: Cranch, 115; 3 L. ed., 287; Clark vs. Graham, 6
Wheat., 577; 5 L. ed., 334; McGoon vs. Scales, 9
Nevertheless, legal and testamentary successions, in Wall., 23; 19 L. ed., 545; Brine vs. Hartford F. Ins.
respect to the order of succession as well as to the Co., 96 U. S., 627; 24 L. ed., 858.)" (See also Estate

6
of Lloyd, 175 Cal., 704, 705.) This fundamental Johnson Gibbs are the owners in fee simple of the conjugal
principle is stated in the first paragraph of article 10 of lands therein described."
our Civil Code as follows: "Personal property is
subject to the laws of the nation of the owner thereof; The descendible interest of Eva Johnson Gibbs in the lands
real property to the laws of the country in which it is aforesaid was transmitted to her heirs by virtue of inheritance
situated. and this transmission plainly falls within the language of section
1536 of Article XI of Chapter 40 of the Administrative Code
It is stated in 5 Cal. Jur., 478: which levies a tax on inheritances. (Cf. Re Estate of Majot, 199
N. Y., 29; 92 N. E., 402; 29 L. R. A. [N. S.], 780.) It is
In accord with the rule that real property is subject to unnecessary in this proceeding to determine the "order of
the lex rei sitae, the respective rights of husband and succession" or the "extent of the successional rights" (article
wife in such property, in the absence of an antenuptial 10, Civil Code, supra) which would be regulated by section
contract, are determined by the law of the place 1386 of the Civil Code of California which was in effect at the
where the property is situated, irrespective of the time of the death of Mrs. Gibbs.
domicile of the parties or to the place where the
marriage was celebrated. (See also Saul vs. His The record does not show what the proper amount of the
Creditors, 5 Martin [N. S.], 569; 16 Am. Dec., 212 inheritance tax in this case would be nor that the appellee
[La.]; Heidenheimer vs. Loring, 26 S. W., 99 [Texas].) (petitioner below) in any way challenged the power of the
Government to levy an inheritance tax or the validity of the
Under this broad principle, the nature and extent of the title statute under which the register of deeds refused to issue a
which vested in Mrs. Gibbs at the time of the acquisition of the certificate of transfer reciting that the appellee is the exclusive
community lands here in question must be determined in owner of the Philippine lands included in the three certificates
accordance with the lex rei sitae. of title here involved.

It is admitted that the Philippine lands here in question were The judgment of the court below of March 10, 1931, is
acquired as community property of the conjugal partnership of reversed with directions to dismiss the petition, without special
the appellee and his wife. Under the law of the Philippine pronouncement as to the costs.
Islands, she was vested of a title equal to that of her husband.
Article 1407 of the Civil Code provides: Avanceña, C. J., Malcolm, Villa-Real, Abad Santos, Hull, and
Vickers, JJ., concur.
All the property of the spouses shall be deemed Street, J., dissents.
partnership property in the absence of proof that it
belongs exclusively to the husband or to the wife.
Article 1395 provides:

"The conjugal partnership shall be governed by the rules of law


applicable to the contract of partnership in all matters in which
such rules do not conflict with the express provisions of this
chapter." Article 1414 provides that "the husband may dispose
by will of his half only of the property of the conjugal
partnership." Article 1426 provides that upon dissolution of the
conjugal partnership and after inventory and liquidation, "the
net remainder of the partnership property shall be divided
share and share alike between the husband and wife, or their
respective heirs." Under the provisions of the Civil Code and
the jurisprudence prevailing here, the wife, upon the acquisition
of any conjugal property, becomes immediately vested with an
interest and title therein equal to that of her husband, subject to
the power of management and disposition which the law vests
in the husband. Immediately upon her death, if there are no
obligations of the decedent, as is true in the present case, her
share in the conjugal property is transmitted to her heirs by
succession. (Articles 657, 659, 661, Civil Code; cf. also
Coronel vs. Ona, 33 Phil., 456, 469.)

It results that the wife of the appellee was, by the law of the
Philippine Islands, vested of a descendible interest, equal to
that of her husband, in the Philippine lands covered by
certificates of title Nos. 20880, 28336 and 28331, from the date
of their acquisition to the date of her death. That appellee
himself believed that his wife was vested of such a title and
interest in manifest from the second of said certificates, No.
28336, dated May 14, 1927, introduced by him in evidence, in
which it is certified that "the spouses Allison D. Gibbs and Eva

7
G.R. No. L-22595 November 1, 1927 receipt of certain testimony requested regarding the Turkish
laws on the matter.
Testate Estate of Joseph G. Brimo, JUAN MICIANO,
administrator, petitioner-appellee, The refusal to give the oppositor another opportunity to prove
vs. such laws does not constitute an error. It is discretionary with
ANDRE BRIMO, opponent-appellant. the trial court, and, taking into consideration that the oppositor
was granted ample opportunity to introduce competent
Ross, Lawrence and Selph for appellant. evidence, we find no abuse of discretion on the part of the
Camus and Delgado for appellee. court in this particular. There is, therefore, no evidence in the
record that the national law of the testator Joseph G. Brimo
was violated in the testamentary dispositions in question which,
not being contrary to our laws in force, must be complied with
and executed. lawphil.net
ROMUALDEZ, J.:
Therefore, the approval of the scheme of partition in this
The partition of the estate left by the deceased Joseph G. respect was not erroneous.
Brimo is in question in this case.
In regard to the first assignment of error which deals with the
The judicial administrator of this estate filed a scheme of exclusion of the herein appellant as a legatee, inasmuch as he
partition. Andre Brimo, one of the brothers of the deceased, is one of the persons designated as such in will, it must be
opposed it. The court, however, approved it. taken into consideration that such exclusion is based on the
last part of the second clause of the will, which says:
The errors which the oppositor-appellant assigns are:
Second. I like desire to state that although by law, I
(1) The approval of said scheme of partition; (2) denial of his am a Turkish citizen, this citizenship having been
participation in the inheritance; (3) the denial of the motion for conferred upon me by conquest and not by free
reconsideration of the order approving the partition; (4) the choice, nor by nationality and, on the other hand,
approval of the purchase made by the Pietro Lana of the having resided for a considerable length of time in the
deceased's business and the deed of transfer of said business; Philippine Islands where I succeeded in acquiring all
and (5) the declaration that the Turkish laws are impertinent to of the property that I now possess, it is my wish that
this cause, and the failure not to postpone the approval of the the distribution of my property and everything in
scheme of partition and the delivery of the deceased's connection with this, my will, be made and disposed
business to Pietro Lanza until the receipt of the depositions of in accordance with the laws in force in the
requested in reference to the Turkish laws. Philippine islands, requesting all of my relatives to
respect this wish, otherwise, I annul and cancel
beforehand whatever disposition found in this will
The appellant's opposition is based on the fact that the partition favorable to the person or persons who fail to comply
in question puts into effect the provisions of Joseph G. Brimo's with this request.
will which are not in accordance with the laws of his Turkish
nationality, for which reason they are void as being in violation
or article 10 of the Civil Code which, among other things, The institution of legatees in this will is conditional, and the
provides the following: condition is that the instituted legatees must respect the
testator's will to distribute his property, not in accordance with
the laws of his nationality, but in accordance with the laws of
Nevertheless, legal and testamentary successions, in the Philippines.
respect to the order of succession as well as to the
amount of the successional rights and the intrinsic
validity of their provisions, shall be regulated by the If this condition as it is expressed were legal and valid, any
national law of the person whose succession is in legatee who fails to comply with it, as the herein oppositor who,
question, whatever may be the nature of the property by his attitude in these proceedings has not respected the will
or the country in which it may be situated. of the testator, as expressed, is prevented from receiving his
legacy.

But the fact is that the oppositor did not prove that said
testimentary dispositions are not in accordance with the The fact is, however, that the said condition is void, being
Turkish laws, inasmuch as he did not present any evidence contrary to law, for article 792 of the civil Code provides the
showing what the Turkish laws are on the matter, and in the following:
absence of evidence on such laws, they are presumed to be
the same as those of the Philippines. (Lim and Lim vs. Impossible conditions and those contrary to law or
Collector of Customs, 36 Phil., 472.) good morals shall be considered as not imposed and
shall not prejudice the heir or legatee in any manner
It has not been proved in these proceedings what the Turkish whatsoever, even should the testator otherwise
laws are. He, himself, acknowledges it when he desires to be provide.
given an opportunity to present evidence on this point; so much
so that he assigns as an error of the court in not having And said condition is contrary to law because it expressly
deferred the approval of the scheme of partition until the ignores the testator's national law when, according to article 10
of the civil Code above quoted, such national law of the
testator is the one to govern his testamentary dispositions.
8
Said condition then, in the light of the legal provisions above
cited, is considered unwritten, and the institution of legatees in
said will is unconditional and consequently valid and effective
even as to the herein oppositor.

It results from all this that the second clause of the will
regarding the law which shall govern it, and to the condition
imposed upon the legatees, is null and void, being contrary to
law.

All of the remaining clauses of said will with all their


dispositions and requests are perfectly valid and effective it not
appearing that said clauses are contrary to the testator's
national law.

Therefore, the orders appealed from are modified and it is


directed that the distribution of this estate be made in such a
manner as to include the herein appellant Andre Brimo as one
of the legatees, and the scheme of partition submitted by the
judicial administrator is approved in all other respects, without
any pronouncement as to costs.

So ordered.

Street, Malcolm, Avanceña, Villamor and Ostrand, JJ., concur.

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