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SOFIA NEPOMUCENO v CA  The CFI denied the probate of the will, ruling that the intrinsic provisions of the

OctobeR 9, 1985 | Gutierrez, J. | Allowance and Disallowance of Wills will are invalid on account of the admission in the will that Jugo cohabited with
Digester: Angat, Christine Joy F. Nepomuceno despite the former’s subsisting marriage
 CA reversed the CFI and held that the will was valid, however the testamentary
SUMMARY: Martin Jugo left a Last Will and Testament where he admitted that he provision devising properties in favor of Nepomuceno was found to be null and
married and has been living with Sofia Nepomuceno as man and wife despite his void
subsisting marriage with Rufina Gomez. Nepomuceno, who was named as the sole  Hence, the instant case. Nepomuceno argues that:
executor of the estate, petitioned for the probate of the will, but the same was denied on o The validity of the testamentary provision cannot be passed upon and decided
the ground that the invalid provisions of the will rendered it invalid. The CA reversed, in the probate proceedings.
ruling that the will was valid but the testamentary provision in favor of Nepomuceno is  The only purpose of the probate of a will is to establish as against
null and void. The Court affirmed the CA. Art. 739, in relation to Art. 1028, states that everyone that a will was executed with the formalities required by law and
testamentary provisions that dispose property between persons guilty of concubinage that the testator has the mental capacity to execute the same.
are null and void. Since the admission of the testator that he has been living with o The declaration of nullity of the testamentary provision on the ground of
Nepomuceno despite his marriage with Gomez makes Nepomuceno his concubine, the adultery or concubinage could only be made by the proper court in a separate
devise in favor Nepomuceno is void. action brought by the legal wife
DOCTRINE: Art. 1028 of the Civil Code states that, “The prohibitions mentioned in  On the other hand, respondents Gomez and the children contends that:
Article 739 concerning donations inter vivos shall apply to testamentary provisions.” o A will, no matter how valid it may appear extrinsically (formally), may be null
and void if a plain reading of the will itself shows that it is intrinsically
The prohibition in Article 739 of the Civil Code is against the making of a donation (substantively) invalid.
between persons who are living in adultery or concubinage. It is the donation which  The last will and testament itself expressly admits on its face the
becomes void. The giver cannot give even assuming that the recipient may receive. meretricious relationship1 between Jugo and Nepomuceno
 The admission by the testator in his will as to the relationship between
FACTS: him and Nepomuceno puts in issue the legality of the devise in favor of
 Martin Jugo died and left a last Will and Testament, which contains the following the latter
(view Notes for actual text):
o That he is married to Rufina Gomez, by whom he had two legitimate children, RULING: Petition dismissed.
Oscar and Carmelita
o That he and his wife became estranged, and he eventually married Sofia Whether the validity of a testamentary provision may be decided in a probate
Nepomuceno, by whom he has been living with as man and wife (even though proceeding - YES
his previous marriage is still subsisting)  The general rule is that in probate proceedings, the court’s area of inquiry is limited
o That he is devising to his forced heirs (Gomez and the two children) his entire to an examination and resolution of the extrinsic validity of the will.
estate, and the free portion thereof to Nepomuceno o The only questions that may be presented is the testator’s testamentary
o That Nepomuceno is the sole and only executor of the estate capacity and the compliance with the formal requisites or solemnities
 Nepomuceno filed a petition for the probate of the last Will and Testament of prescribed by law.
Jugo. This was opposed by Gomez and the two children, alleging that: o Any inquiry into the intrinsic validity or efficacy of the provisions of the will or
o The execution of the will was procured by undue and improper influence by the legality of any devise or legacy is premature.
Nepomuceno  However, this rule is not absolute and admits of exceptions: where practical
o Jugo, at the time of the execution of the will, was already very sick considerations demand that the intrinsic validity of the will be passed upon, even
o Nepomuceno, having admitted that he is living in concubinage with Jugo, lacks before it is probated, the court should meet the issue.
the integrity and cannot therefore receive and execute Jugo’s last will o When there are unusual provisions of the will, which are of dubious legality,
the probate court can pass upon the will’s intrinsic validity even before its
formal validity had been established.

1A stable, marital-like relationship where both parties cohabit with knowledge


that a lawful marriage between them does not exist.
o The probate of the will might prove to be superfluous or might become an idle  The last will and testament itself admits the nature of relationship between
ceremony if on its face it appears to be intrinsically void. Nepomuceno and Jugo.
 Litigation will only be protracted if the court is to remand a will to  During the probate proceeding, Nepomuceno, instead of limiting her
determine the validity of a testamentary provision because there is a large presentation of evidence on the extrinsic validity of the will, attempted to
probability that the will will be before the same court again. justify the will’s intrinsic validity by presenting evidence on her alleged
 There is no useful purpose that would be served if we remand the ignorance of the civil status of testator (in short, defensive). This
nullified provision to the proper court in a separate action for that prompted Gomez to present evidence to the contrary:
purpose simply because, in the probate of a will, the court does not  Sebastian Jugo, Martin Jugo’s younger brother, testified about the
ordinarily look into the intrinsic validity of its provisions. relationship of Nepomuceno and his brother.
 IN THIS CASE: There is no doubt that the will was executed in accordance with  The marriage of Nepomuceno and Jugo was done in secrecy in a
the formalities prescribed by law. However, given the questionable character of town in Tarlac where neither of them ever resided. Sebastian alleged
the testamentary provision devising properties to Nepomuceno, in light with the that this was because their parents were not in favor of the marriage.
admission that she was his concubine, the court did not exceed its jurisdiction in  Nepomuceno and Jugo were sweethearts before the latter married
determining the intrinsic validity of the will. Gomez. They broke it off on the year Jugo married Gomez. When
they were reunited after 30 years, it is quite impossible to believe that
Whether the testamentary provision in favor of Nepomuceno is valid - NO Nepomuceno did not inquire as to what happened to Jugo during all
 Art. 1028 of the Civil Code states that, “The prohibitions mentioned in Article 739 those years.
concerning donations inter vivos shall apply to testamentary provisions.”  Nepomuceno knew of Jugo’s two children. It is impossible to believe
o Art. 739 then provides: that Nepomuceno did not inquire as to their legitimacy or as to the
Art. 739. The following donations shall be void: whereabouts of their mother.
(1) Those made between persons who were guilty of adultery or  Nepomuceno frequented the house where the children resides. It is
concubinage at the time of the donation; impossible that Nepomuceno did not know that Jugo is not married
(2) Those made between persons found guilty of the same criminal offense, in consideration and his wife is alive given that the wife’s house is just a few meters
thereof; away from where the children resides.
(3) Those made to a public officer or his wife, descendants and ascendants, by reason of his  Nepomuceno’s pretentions that she acted in good faith are inherently
office. improbable, for they are against the experience in common life and the
In the case referred to in No. 1, the action for declaration of nullity may be brought by the ordinary instincts and promptings of human nature that a woman would
spouse of the donor or donee; and the guilt of the donor and donee may be proved by not bother to inquire at all the man she was going to marry.
preponderance of evidence in the same action. o Even assuming that Nepomuceno acted in good faith, the prohibition under
 IN THIS CASE: Nepomuceno is guilty of concubinage since she inhabited Art. 739 applies to the donation itself. The giver cannot give even assuming
with Jugo, a married man, while the latter’s marriage was subsisting. Thus, that the recipient may receive. The very wordings of the Will invalidate the
the devise made by Jugo in her favor is considered void pursuant to Art. 739 legacy because the testator admitted he was disposing the properties to a
in relation to Art. 1038. person with whom he had been living in concubinage.
o The records show that when Jugo executed the will, he has lived with
Nepomuceno in an ostensible marital relationship despite his previous existing
marriage with Gomez. NOTES:
 Jugo’s will contained this admission when he said that he had been  Pertinent provisions of the will:
estranged from his legal wife Gomez, and that he married Nepomuceno Art. III. That I have the following legal heirs, namely: my aforementioned legal
and the latter presented him as her husband, even though “in truth and in wife, Rufina Gomez, and our son, Oscar, and daughter Carmelita, both surnamed
fact, as well as in the eyes of the law, I could not bind her to me in the Jugo, whom I declare and admit to be legally and properly entitled to inherit from
holy bonds of matrimony because of my aforementioned previous me; that while I have been estranged from my above-named wife for so many
marriage.” years, I cannot deny that I was legally married to her or that we have been
o Nepomuceno’s argument that she acted in good faith for 22 years that she was separated up to the present for reasons and justifications known fully well by them:
legally married to Jugo does not lie. The records do not sustain a finding of
innocence or good faith on the part of Nepomuceno.
Art. IV. That since 1952, 1 have been living, as man and wife with one Sofia J.
Nepomuceno, whom I declare and avow to be entitled to my love and affection,
for all the things which she has done for me, now and in the past; that while Sofia J.
Nepomuceno has with my full knowledge and consent, did comport and represent
myself as her own husband, in truth and in fact, as well as in the eyes of the law, I
could not bind her to me in the holy bonds of matrimony because of my
aforementioned previous marriage