G.R. No. 2599. October 27, 1905

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5 Phil. 176

[ G.R. No. 2599. October 27, 1905 ]




Ramon Iturralde y Gonzalez having died intestate on the 28th of
December, 1900, Maria Juana Ugarte e Iturralde asked that she be
judicially declared the legitimate heir of the deceased.

There being no legitimate heirs to the estate either in the direct
ascendant or descendant line of succession, the petitioner presented
herself as a collateral descendant—that is to say, as the legitimate
niece of the deceased. Her mother, Maria Juana Iturralde y Gonzalez, as
well as the deceased, Ramon Iturralde y Gonzalez, were children of
Manuel Iturralde and Josefa Gonzalez.

The petition of Maria Juana Ugarte e Iturralde, then the only
claimant to the estate, having been heard in accordance with the
provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure in force at the time,
intestate proceedings were instituted, and she was declared, in an
order made on the 31st of January, 1901, without prejudice to third
parties, to be the heir of the deceased, Ramon Iturralde y Gonzalez.

In the month of December, 1904, however, Carmen Linart, through her
guardian, Rafaela Pavia, claimed one-half of all of the estate of the
deceased, Ramon Iturralde y Gonzalez, and asked at the same time that
Maria Juana Ugarte e Iturralde, who had been declared the lawful heir
of the deceased—a fact which this new relative did not deny—be required
to render an account of the property of the estate.

The father of the petitioner was in the same collateral degree of
succession as Maria Juana Ugarte e Iturralde. Pablo Linart, the father
of Carmen Linart, was the legitimate son of Maria Josefa Iturralde y
Gonzalez, another sister of Ramon Iturralde y Gonzalez. They, and Maria
Juana Iturralde y Gonzalez are the common trunk from which the three
branches issue.

Carmen Linart does not claim that her father, Pablo, who was of the
same degree as Maria Juana Ugarte e Iturralde, should have succeeded
Ramon, for the reason that the latter died first. This, however, was
not alleged, much less proved. What she claims is that, although she is
one degree lower in the line of succession than her aunt, Maria Juana
Iturralde y Gonzalez, yet she is entitled to a share of the estate of
the deceased through her father, Pablo Linart, by representation—that
is to say, that even though a grandniece, she is entitled to the same
share in the estate as the direct niece, Maria Juana Ugarte e Iturralde.

The court below on the 24th of February, 1905, entered judgment
declaring that the petitioner had the same right to participate in the
inheritance as had Maria Juana Ugarte e Iturralde, and ordered the
latter to render an account of the estate, enjoining her, at the same
time, from disposing of any part thereof until such accounting had been
made and the estate distributed. Maria Juana Ugarte excepted to the
judgment and has brought the case to this court.

After a consideration of the case, this court finds: (1) That the
relative nearest in degree excludes those more distant, with the
exception of the right of representation in proper cases (art. 921,
par. 1 of the Civil Code); and (2) that the right of representation in
the collateral line shall take place only in favor of children of
brothers or sisters whether they be of whole or half blood (art. 925,
par, 2).

In the light of the foregoing, the error which the appellant claims
was committed in the court below is very clearly shown. The court below
held that the grandniece was entitled to the same share of the estate
that the niece was entitled to, when, as a matter of law, the right of
representation in the collateral line can only take place in favor of
the children of brothers or sisters of the intestate, and the plaintiff
in this case is not a daughter of one of the sisters of the deceased,
such as is the appellant, but the daughter of a son of a sister of the
deceased. It would have been quite different had it been shown that her
father, Pablo Linart, had survived the deceased. In that case he would
have succeeded to the estate with his cousin, Maria Juana Ugarte, and
then, by representation, she, the plaintiff, might have inherited the
portion of the estate corresponding to her father’s. It is not an error
to consider that the word “children” in this connection does not
include “grandchildren.” There is no precedent in our jurisprudence to
warrant such a conclusion.

The decisions of the supreme court of Spain of October 19, 1899, and
December 31, 1895, relied upon, are not applicable to this case. Those
decisions were rendered in cases relating to testate and not to
intestate successions. In both cases, and in many others decided by the
supreme court of Spain, prior to the operation of the Civil Code, where
a testator had named certain persons as heirs and, they failing, that
the property should pass to their children, it was held that
“grandchildren” were necessarily included in the word “children,” and
that in such a case the grandchild does not, properly speaking, inherit
by representation, “for the reason that he must in any event succeed
the child in the natural and regular order,” and pointed out
in the last decision referred to. And, as is also pointed out in the
first decision, “the fact that it was stated with more or less
correctness in the prayer of the complaint that the action was based
upon the right of representation, is not sufficient to deny to the
appellant a right which he had under the terms of the will.” The
difference is this, that in the case of a testamentary succession, we
must take into consideration and give force to the intention of the
testator when he substitutes the children for the heirs first named by
him. The descendants are ordinarily considered as included in the term
“children,” unless they are expressly excluded, whereas in intestate
successions, reference should only be had to the provisions of the law
under which it is evident that the rights of representation in the
collateral line do not obtain beyond the sons and daughters of brothers
or sisters.

We, therefore, hold that in an intestate succession a grandniece of
the deceased can not participate with a niece in the inheritance,
because the latter, being a nearer relative, the more distant
grandniece is excluded. In the collateral line the right of
representation does not obtain beyond sons and daughters of the
brothers and sisters, which would have been the case if Pablo Linart,
the father of the plaintiff, had survived his deceased uncle.

For the reasons above stated, we hereby reverse the judgment of the
court below, and declare that Carmen Linart has no right to succeed the
deceased with said Maria Juana Ugarte e Iturralde, who was once
declared to be the lawful heir, and who is now in possession of the
estate, as to whom we hereby dissolve the injunction issued from the
Court of First Instance.

After the expiration of twenty days let judgment be entered in
accordance herewith, without special provisions as to the costs of this
instance, and let the record be remanded to the Court of First Instance
from whence it came for execution of the said judgment. So ordered.

Torres, Mapa, Johnson, Carson, and Willard, JJ., concur.

Date created: April 28, 2014


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