Caniza v. CA
The Incompetent, CARMEN CANIZA, represented by her legal guardian, AMPARO EVANGELISTA v. COURT OF APPEALS (SPECIAL FIRST DIVISION), PEDRO ESTRADA and his wife, LEONORA ESTRADA
G.R. No. 110427. February 24, 1997
Being then ninety-four (94) years of age, Carmen Caniza was declared incompetent by judgment in a guardianship proceeding instituted by her niece, Amparo A. Evangelista. Caniza was the owner of a house and lot. Her guardian Amparo Evangelista commenced a suit to eject the spouses Pedro and Leonora Estrada from said premises.
The complaint was later amended to identify the incompetent Caniza as plaintiff, suing through her legal guardian, Amparo Evangelista. The amended Complaint pertinently alleged that plaintiff Caniza was the absolute owner of the property in question; that out of kindness, she had allowed the Estrada Spouses, their children, grandchildren, and sons-in-law to temporarily reside in her house, rent-free; that Caniza already had urgent need of the house on account of her advanced age and failing health, “so funds could be raised to meet her expenses for support, maintenance and medical treatment;” among others.
The defendants declared that they had been living in Caniza’s house since the 1960’s; that in consideration of their faithful service they had been considered by Caniza as her own family, and the latter had in fact executed a holographic will by which she “bequeathed” to the Estradas the house and lot in question. The Estradas insist that the devise of the house to them by Caiza clearly denotes her intention that they remain in possession thereof, and legally incapacitated her judicial guardian, Amparo Evangelista, from evicting them therefrom, since their ouster would be inconsistent with the ward’s will. Such will has not been submitted for probate.
Whether or not the alleged will may be given effect
No. A will is essentially ambulatory; at any time prior to the testator’s death, it may be changed or revoked; and until admitted to probate, it has no effect whatever and no right can be claimed thereunder, the law being quite explicit: “No will shall pass either real or personal property unless it is proved and allowed in accordance with the Rules of Court” An owner’s intention to confer title in the future to persons possessing property by his tolerance, is not inconsistent with the former’s taking back possession in the meantime for any reason deemed sufficient. And that, in this case, there was sufficient cause for the owner’s resumption of possession is apparent: she needed to generate income from the house on account of the physical infirmities afflicting her, arising from her extreme age.