Monday, February 20, 2012

Alejandrino vs. CA

Facts: The late spouses Alejandrino left their six children named Marcelino, Gregorio, Ciriaco, Mauricia, Laurencia and Abundio a lot in Cebu City. Upon the death of the spouses, the property should have been divided among their children, however, the estate of the Alejandrino spouses was not settled in accordance with the procedures.

Petitioner Mauricia (one of the children) allegedly purchased portion of the lots from her brothers, Gregorio's, Ciriaco's and Abundio's share. It turned out, however, that a third party named Nique, the private respondent in this case, also purchased portions of the property from Laurencia, Abundio and Marcelino.

However, Laurencia (the alleged seller to Nique) later questioned the sale in an action for quieting of title and damages. The trial court (Quieting of title case) ruled in favor of Nique and declared him the owner of the lots. Laurencia appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals but later withdrew the same.

Nique filed a motion for the segregation of the portion of the property that had been declared by the trial court (Quieting of title case) as his own by virtue of purchase. The trial court segregated the property on the basis of the Extra-Judicial Settlement between Mauricia and Laurencia.

Issue: Whether or not partition of the lot was validly made

Held: Yes.

1) Although the right of an heir over the property of the decedent is inchoate as long as the estate has not been fully settled and partitioned, the law allows a co-owner to exercise rights of ownership over such inchoate right.

Laurencia was within her hereditary rights in selling her pro indiviso share. The legality of Laurencia's alienation of portions of the estate of the Alejandrino spouses was upheld in the Quieting of title case which had become final and executory by Laurencia's withdrawal of her appeal in the CA. When Nique filed a motion for the segregation of the portions of the property that were adjudged in his favor, he was in effect calling for the partition of the property. However, under the law, partition of the estate of a decedent may only be effected by (1) the heirs themselves extrajudicially, (2) by the court in an ordinary action for partition, or in the course of administration proceedings, (3) by the testator himself, and (4) by the third person designated by the testator.

2) Extrajudicial settlement between Mauricia and Laurentia became the basis for the segregation of the property in favor of Nique

However, evidence on the extrajudicial settlement of estate was offered before the trial court and it became the basis for the order for segregation of the property sold to Nique. Mauricia does not deny the fact of the execution of the deed of extrajudicial settlement of the estate. She only questions its validity on account of the absence of notarization of the document and the non-publication thereof.

3) A partition is valid though not contained in a public instrument.

 Moreover, the execution of the deed of extrajudicial settlement of the estate reflected the intention of both Laurencia and Mauricia to physically divide the property. Both of them had acquired the shares of their brothers and therefore it was only the two of them that needed to settle the estate. The fact that the document was not notarized is no hindrance to its effectivity as regards the two of them. The partition of inherited property need not be embodied in a public document to be valid between the parties.

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