Preterition in Succession

With regard to the issue on preterition, the compulsory heirs in the direct line were not preterited in the will. It was the testator’s last expression to bequeath his estate to all his compulsory heirs, with the sole exception of his eldest son. Also, he did not institute an heir to the exclusion of his other compulsory heirs. The mere mention of the name of one of the petitioners in the document did not operate to institute her as the universal heir. Her name was included plainly as a witness to the altercation between testator and his son.

Considering that the questioned document is testator’s holographic will, and that the law favors testacy over intestacy, the probate of the will cannot be dispensed with. Article 838 of the Civil Code provides that no will shall pass either real or personal property unless it is proved and allowed in accordance with the Rules of Court. Thus, unless the will is probated, the right of a person to dispose of his property may be rendered nugatory. (Maninang v. CA, 114 SCRA 478).

In view of the foregoing, the trial court, therefore, should have allowed the holographic will to be probated. It is settled that testate proceedings for the settlement of the estate of the decedent take precedence over intestate proceedings for the same purpose. (Cuenco v. CA, 53 SCRA 360).