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18 Pacioles v.

Chuatoco-Ching
G.R. No. 127920 (9 August 2005)
Sandoval-Gutierrez, J. / Tita K

Subject Matter: Rules Conferring Power Over Another’s Property; Settlement of Estate of Deceased Persons; Rule 73 Venue and
Process; Jurisdiction of Probate Court
Summary:
Petitioner filed a motion for partition and distribution of his deceased wife’s estate. Respondent, the deceased’s mother, opposed
such motion on the ground that it is premature as there is no determination as to whether properties in the inventory are conjugal
or paraphernal properties. It was alleged by the respondent that the bulk of the deceased’s properties is hers. The intestate court
denied petitioner’s prayer for partition. It held that partition would be premature as as hearing on the respondent’s claim is
necessary. Nonetheless, the SC ruled in favor of petitioner. It held that the intestate court should have remained hands-off on the
matter. Such claim of ownership cannot be passed upon by the intestate or trial court, nor does it fall within the exception.

Doctrines:
 General rule:
Jurisdiction of the trial court either as an intestate or probate court relates only to matters having to do with the settlement
of the estate and probate of will of deceased persons but does not extend to the determination of questions of ownership
that arise during the proceedings.
 Such court exercises special and limited jurisdiction.
 Exception:
An intestate or probate court may hear and pass upon questions of onwership when its purpose is to determine whether or
not a property should be included in the inventory.
 When a question arises as to ownership of property alleged of the estate of the deceased person, but claimed by some other
person to be his property, not by virtue of any right of inheritance from the deceased but by title adverse to that of the
deceased and his estate, such queston cannot be determined in the course of an intestate or probate proceedings.

Parties:
Emilio B. Pacioles, Jr., in his capacity as administrator and heir of the intestate estate of
Petitioner
Miguelita Ching-Pacioles
Respondent Miguela Chuatoco-Ching
Facts:
 Miguelita died intestate, leaving real properties, stock investments, bank deposits and interest in certain businesses.
 She was survived by her husband, petitioner herein, and their two minor children.
 Peitioner filed with the RTC a petition for settlement of Miguelita’s estate. He prayed that:
o Letters of administration be issued in his name, and
o The net residue be divided among the compulsory heirs
 Miguelita’s mother, Miguela, herein respondent, filed an opposition on the ground that:
o Petitioner is incompetent and unfit to be administrator
o The bulk of Miguelita’s estate is composed of paraphernal properties.
 Petitioner moved to strike out respondent’s opposition, alleging that Miguela has no direct and material interest because
she is not a compulsory her.
 Respondent countered that she has direct and material interest because she gave half of her inherited properties to
Miguelita on the condition that both of them “would undertake whatever business endeavor they decided to, in the
capacity of business partners.
 In her omnibus motion, respondent nominated her son, Emmanuel Ching, to act as special administrator.
 The intestate court appointed petitioner and Emmanuel as joint regular administrators of the estate.
 Petitioner submitted to the intestate court and inventory of Miguelita’s estate, while Emmanuel did not submit an
inventory.
 Petitioner filed an omnibus motion with the intestate court praying that an Order be issued directing the partition and
distribution of the estate among the declared heirs, among others.
 Respondent opposed the said motion on the ground that the partition and distribution of the estate is “premature and
precipitate,” considering that there is no determination “whether the properties specified in the inventory are conjugal,
paraphernal, or owned in a joint venture.
 Respondent claimed that she owns the bulk of Miguelita’s estate as an “heir and co-owner.” Thus, she prayed that a
hearing be scheduled.
Intestate Court:
 Denied the petitioner’s prayer for partition and distribution of the estate for being premature.
 Held that a hearing on oppositor’s claim is necessary to determine “whether the properties listed in the amended
complaint filed by petitioner are entirely conjugal or the paraphernal properties of the deceaser, or a co-ownership
between the oppositor and the petitioner in ther partnership venture.:
CA:
 Dismissed petition for certiorari as the intestate court did not commit grave abuse of discretion
 Ruled that there is no indication that the probate court has already made a finding of title or ownership.
Issue/s:

1. WON the trial court, acting as an intestate court, may hear and pass upon questions of ownership involving properties
claimed to be part of the decedent’s estate. (NO)

Ratio:

No– Generally, an intestate court cannot hear and pass upon questions of ownership.

 General rule:
Jurisdiction of the trial court either as an intestate or probate court relates only to matters having to do with the
settlement of the estate and probate of will of deceased persons but does not extend to the determination of questions
of ownership that arise during the proceedings.
Such court exercises special and limited jurisdiction.
 Exception:
An intestate or probate court may hear and pass upon questions of onwership when its purpose is to determine whether
or not a property should be included in the inventory.
In such situations the adjudication is merely incidental and provisional.
o In this case, the purpose in hearing or passing upon questions of ownership by the intestate court is NOT to
merely determin WON a property should be included in the inventory.
 First, the inventory was not disputed. In fact, in respondent’s manifestation and opposition, she
expressly adopted the inventory prepared by peitioner. Respondent could have opposed theinventory
and sought the excusion of the specific properties which she considered to be hers.
 Second, Emanuel, respondent’s son and petitioner’s co-administrator, did not submit his own inventory.
This shows that he acquiesced with peitioner’s inventory. He could have submitted an inventory,
excluding those properties which respondent considered to be hers.
o She wanted to secure from the intestate court a final determination of her claim of ownership over properties
comprising of bulk of Miguelita’s estate.
 The intestate court’s resolution stated that:
“if it is true that oppositor own the bulk of properties, …, oppositor has a material and direct interest in
the estate and should be given her day in Court.”
 It was apparent from intestate court’s resolution that the purpose of the hearing set by the intestate
court is to determine the propriety of respondent’s claim that she is the true owner of the bulk of
Miguelita’s estate.

o Clearly, RTC overstepped its jurisdiction. Its proper course should have been to maintain a hands-off stance on
the matter.
 When a question arises as to ownership of property alleged of the estate of the deceased person, but claimed by some
other person to be his property, not by virtue of any right of inheritance from the deceased but by title adverse to that of
the deceased and his estate, such queston cannot be determined in the course of an intestate or probate proceedings.
 The intestate orprobate court has no jurisdiction to adjudicate such contentions, which must be submitted to the court in
the exercise of its general jurisdiction as a regional trial court.
o Respondent’s recourse is to file a separate action with a court of genera jurisdiction.
Wherefore, the instatnt petition is GRANTED.

Others/Notes:

Assuming arguendo that the intestate court merely made a provisiona or prima facie determination of the issue of ownership, still
respondent’s claim cannot prosper.

 Bolisay v. Alcid:
“Holder of title should be considered as the owner of the property in controversy until his title is nullified or modified in an
appropriate ordinary action.”
o The bulk of Miguelita’s estate, as stated in the petitioner’s inventory, comprises real estates registered wither in
the name of Miguelita alone or with petitioner.
o Respondent could not even specify which propertues listed in the inventory belong to her. Neither could she
present any document to prove her claim of ownership.