G.R. No. 2370. December 12, 1905

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5 Phil. 405

[ G.R. No. 2370. December 12, 1905 ]




In Manila, on the 21st of February, 1902, Joaquin Martinez
Sy-Tiongtay executed his last will, whereby he disposed of an estate of
212,862 pesos among his five children, Carlos Pabia, Baldomero (the
mother of these two being Chan-Sinnin), Felipa, Manuel, and Faustina
(the mother of these three being Ana Cuanci). Apparently the testator’s
business was connected with shipping interests. He afterwards died, the
exact date of his death not appearing in the record, and Sy-Giang was
appointed his executor and at the time this case arose was in
possession of the property left by the deceased. After the death of his
father his son and heir, Baldomero, died, leaving no will, and leaving
as his only heirs his brothers and sisters above named. When Baldomero
died the property left by his father had not been divided, and he had
an interest therein.

After the death of Baldomero, Carlos Pabia, Ms brother, employed the
plaintiff, who is a lawyer, to procure the appointment of an
administrator of the estate of Baldomero and to attend to the
settlement of that estate in the Court of First Instance. The
plaintiff, by virtue of such employment, performed services and
expended money in procuring the appointment of the administrator, and
in other work connected with the settlement of the estate. The person
appointed as administrator of the estate of Baldomero was Carlos Pabia.
Carlos Pabia died in the month of February, 1904, and the defendant was
appointed administrator of the estate of Baldomero in succession to
said Carlos, and this action was commenced against the defendant in his
capacity as administrator of said estate, to recover the value of such
services and the money so expended.

The court below entered judgment in favor of the defendant on the
ground that the services rendered by plaintiff were entirely
unnecessary and that there was no occasion for the appointment of an
administrator of the estate of Baldomero. We can not agree with this
opinion. Baldomero left an estate of about 46,000 pesos. Almost all of
it consisted of his interest in his father’s estate. This estate had
not been divided and was in the hands of the executor of that estate.
It appeared from the evidence that this executor refused to deliver any
of the property to the administrator of the estate of Baldomero, or to
the heirs of the latter. It also appears that the question as to who
such heirs are is now in litigation in court. Under these circumstances
it seems to us that the appointment of an administrator and the
settlement of Baldomero’s estate in the probate court was necessary.
The final decree rendered in that proceeding under the provisions of
section 753 of the Code of Civil Procedure would be a determination of
the question as to who the heirs of Baldomero were, and when such
decree was presented to Sy-Giang, the executor of the estate of the
father, he would be obliged to deliver the interest of Baldomero to the
persons named in that decree.

Moreover, in a case where there is an estate of 46,000 pesos, and
there are no known debts, if not necessary it is at least extremely
advisable that an administrator be appointed and the estate regularly
administered in the Court of First Instance, exercising its probate
jurisdiction, for the purpose of having the fact that there are no
debts conclusively determined. When an estate is regularly administered
in the Court of First Instance, and commissioners appointed before whom
claims must be presented within the time fixed in the order, they are
by law, with some few exceptions, barred unless so presented. This time
may be limited by the court to six months. It is important to the heirs
of an estate to know as soon after the death of the intestate as
possible what claims exist against it. If they then know what demands
are made against it, they have an opportunity to ascertain the facts
relating to such demands when evidence concerning their validity can be
easily obtained. Unfounded claims in such cases can be more easily
defeated than they could if they were presented several years after the
death of the intestate.

So far from the services of the plaintiff being unnecessary in this
case, we think that he acted wisely in advising his client that the
estate of Baldomero should be regularly administered in court, and we
think he has a claim for the amount of money he expended on account of
the estate, and for the reasonable value of his services.

The question remains, however, against whom this claim can be
enforced by him. The claim or cause of action arose after the death of
Baldomero. It was therefore not a proper claim to be presented before
the commissioners appointed in Baldomero’s estate. (Philippine Trading
Company, Ltd., r,s’. Cross-field, Judge.[1])

The contract which the plaintiff made was made with Carlos Pabia. If
it was made with Carlos Pabia as an individual, then the plaintiff’s
cause of action is against him. If it was made with Carlos Pabia as the
administrator of the estate of Baldomero, the question arises whether
such a contract imposes any direct liability upon the estate which the
creditor can enforce by an action; whether he can secure a judgment
which will be binding and conclusive upon the estate and upon all the
persons interested therein.

The provisions of the present Code of Civil Procedure relating to
the settlement of estates of deceased persons are taken from similar
provisions in the United States. There the decisions, which are
numerous, are practically unanimous in holding that in a case like the
present, the contract made between the administrator and the lawyer
does not bind the estate to such an extent that the lawyer can maintain
an action against it and recover a judgment which is binding upon it.
In such a case the creditor has two remedies: He can prosecute an
action against the administrator as an individual. If judgment is
rendered against the administrator and it is paid by him, when he
presents his final account to the Court of First Instance as such
administrator he can include the amount so paid as an expense of
administration. The creditor can also present a petition in the
proceeding relating to the settlement of the estate, asking that the
court, after notice to all persons interested, allow his claim and
direct the administrator to pay it as an expense of administration.
Whichever course is adopted the heirs and other persons interested in
the estate will have a right to inquire into the necessity for making
the contract and the value of the work performed by the attorney.

If Carlos Pabia were now alive the plaintiff might have a right of
action against him, but under the rule above stated he has no right of
action against the present defendant, because he (the present
defendant) is not in any way connected with Carlos Pabia. He is not his
executor or administrator. The estate which the present defendant
represents is the estate of Baldomero, and against that estate, as we
have seen, an ordinary action can not be maintained by the plaintiff.

The court below ordered the action to be dismissed. This judgment
should be modified so as to provide that the dismissal should be
without prejudice to the right of the plaintiff to prosecute his claim
against the person responsible therefor, or to make an application in
the proceeding for the settlement of the estate of Baldomero for its
allowance and payment. As so modified the judgment is affirmed. No
costs will be allowed in this court, and after the expiration of twenty
days let judgment be entered in accordance herewith and the case be
returned to the court below for execution of said judgment. So ordered.

Arellano, C.J., Mapa, Johnson, and Carson, JJ., concur.

[1] Page 400, supra.

Date created: April 28, 2014


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