G.R. No. L-5436 June 30, 1953
ROMAN OZAETA, ROSA GONZALES VDA. DE PALANCA, JUSTO G. PALANCA, LEONARDA PALANCA DE ARANAS, SEVERINA G. PALANCA, CARLOS PALANCA, JR., ANTONIO G. PALANCA, MACARIO G. PALANCA, MILAGROS PALANCA DE FURER, and RAMON G. PALANCA Petitioners, vs. HONORABLE POTENCIANO PECSON, Judge of First Instance of Manila, and BANK OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, Respondents.
Roxas, Lichauco, Picazo and Manuel S. San Jose for petitioners.
The question posed by the petition filed in this case is: Does a probate court commit an abuse of discretion if, pending an appeal against its order or judgment admitting a will to probate and appointing as judicial administrator the person named therein as executor, it appoints as special administrator any person other than the executor named in the will?chanrobles virtual law library
The facts giving rise to the question may be briefly summarized as follows: Carlos Palanca died on September 2, 1950; leaving a will executed by him on May 19, 1945. In the will petitioner Roman Ozaeta, former associate justice of this Court, was named executor if General Manuel A. Roxas fails to qualify. Upon Palanca's death, and General Roxas having died previously, petitioner presented a petition for the probate of the will, at the same time praying that he be appointed special administrator. Some of the heirs of the decedent opposed this petition, and the court on October 6, 1950, appointed the Philippine Trust Company, a non-applicant and a stranger to the proceedings, special administrator. On April 20, 1951, the Philippine Trust Company presented a petition to resign as special administrator on the ground of incompatibility of interest, as it had granted a loan to heir Angel Palanca, who had pledged to it shares of the Far Eastern University allegedly belonging to the estate of the deceased. Thereupon petitioner reiterated his previous petition, but the court appointed Sebastian Palanca, one of the heirs, to take the place of the Philippine Trust Company. The order is dated June 30, 1951. But on October 23rd, the court rendered an order admitting the will to probate and appointing petitioner as administrator. The order reads thus:
And on October 25, 1951, the court allowed the Philippine Trust Company to resign, reconsidered its order appointing Sebastian Palanca special administrator, and appointed instead the Bank of the Philippine Islands. Petitioner moved to reconsider the order, but his motion was denied, and thereupon the present petition was filed. In its order the court held that it has discretion to choose the special administrator and is not bound to appoint the person named therein as executor, because the order had been appealed.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Petitioner claims that the reason why the respondent judge does not appoint him special administrator is his personal dislike for him, and that the reasons given by the judge in not appointing him, namely, alleged partiality to one group of heirs, less ability and experience in handling estates as the appointees - the previous and the subsequent one - are not actually the reasons that impelled him to deny petitioner's appointment. On the other hand, intervenors Maria Cuartero, et al., (a group of heirs), claim that petitioner had close personal relations with Rosa Gonzales (second wife of deceased) and her children, acting as sponsor in her marriage with the deceased, obtaining a loan from her family, etc. We have overlooked all the personal grounds or reasons given by the parties, and have chosen to decide the issue from a purely legal point of view.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
It should be noted at the outset that Rule 81 of the Rules of Court, under the provisions of which the order appealed from was made, grants discretion to the probate court to appoint or not to appoint a special administrator. It is silent as to the person that may be appointed as special administrator, unlike section 6 of Rule 79, which expressly gives the order of preference of the persons that may be appointed regular administrator. We have held in the case of Roxas vs. Pecson, however, that the appointment of special administrators is not governed by the rules regarding the appointment of regular administrators. (Roxas vs. Pecson, 82 Phil., 407, 46 Off. Gaz.  2058.) But we further held, however, that while the choice of the person lies within the court's discretion, such discretion should not be a whimsical one, but one that is reasonable and logical and in accord with fundamental legal principles and justice. The fact that a judge is granted discretion does not authorize him to become partial, or to make his personal likes and dislikes prevail over, or his passions to rule, his judgment. Such discretion must be based on reason and legal principle, and it must be exercised within the limits thereof. And there is no reason why the same fundamental and legal principles governing the choice of a regular administrator should not be taken into account in the appointment of the special administrator.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
The choice of his executor is a precious prerogative of a testator, a necessary concomitant of his right to dispose of his property in the manner he wishes. It is natural that the testator should desire to appoint one of his confidence, one who can be trusted to carry out his wishes in the disposal of the estate. The curtailment of this right may be considered as a curtailment of the right to dispose. And as the rights granted by will take effect from the time of death (Article 777, Civil Code of the Philippines), the management of his estate by the administrator of his choice should be made as soon as practicable, when no reasonable objection to his assumption of the trust can be interposed any longer. It has been held that when a will has been admitted to probate, it is the duty of the court to issue letters testamentary to the person named as executor upon his application (23 C.J. 1023). It is the testator that appoints his executor, as the question as to his peculiar fitness for such a position or his want of ability to manage the estate can not be addressed to the discretion of the county judge. (Holbrook vs. Head, 6 S.W. 592, 593, 9 Ky. 755.).chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
In the case at bar, the will has already been admitted to probate, and respondent judge himself has expressly appointed petitioner as administrator. The only reason or ground, therefore, for suspending his appointment, and for the appointment of a special administrator, who is not the petitioner himself, is a very technical one. It also appears that the Philippine Trust Company, which had acted as special administrator for a period of only a few months, has submitted a bill for P90,000. This would cut deep into the income of the estate, and if the new special administrator appointed by the respondent judge takes office, it is not improbable that the estate may again be subjected to the same expensive cost of administration. Under these circumstances, it would seem unreasonable to refuse to appoint the petitioner as special administrator. To do so would be delaying the fulfillment of the wishes of the testator and subjecting the estate to unnecessary expense. Petitioner has cited precedents in the surrogate courts of the State of New York to support his claim that as the will appointing him regular administrator has been admitted to probate by the trial judge, he should now be appointed special administrator during the pendency of the appeal against the order admitting the will to probate. In the case of In re Shonts' Estate, 178 N.Y.S. 762, 767-768, the judge makes the following very pertinent remarks:
The case of In re Erlanger's Estate, 242 N.Y.S. 249, also reiterates the same principle.
The writ prayed for is, therefore, granted, the appealed order reversed, and the temporary injunction issued by the court made absolute. Let temporary letters of administration be issued in favor of petitioner during the pendency of the appeal from the order admitting the will to probate.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Paras, C.J., Pablo, Bengzon, Tuason, Montemayor, Reyes, Jugo and Bautista Angelo, JJ., concur.
Search for www.chanrobles.com
|Copyright © ChanRoblesPublishing Company| Disclaimer | E-mailRestrictions|
ChanRobles™Virtual Law Library ™ | chanrobles.com™