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THE ESTATE OF HILARIO M. RUIZ vs.

CA
G.R. No. 118671. January 29, 1996

PUNO, J:

FACTS: Hilario Ruiz left a holographic will wherein he named as his heirs his only son, his adoptive daughter and
his grandchildren from his only son. His only son was also named executor of the will. Upon his death, the only son
did not petition for the probate of said will, and even opposed the probate of the will. The probate court ordered that
support be given to the grandchildren, and that the titles to the two apartments being rented out be released to the
heirs. Court held that as to the support to be given, the rules of court provides that only children of the deceased (as
well as the surviving spouse) are entitled to support, not the grandchildren. As to the release of the titles, court held
that it was too early to release the titles yet as the estate has not yet been inventoried and appraised, the charges upon
the estate has not yet been paid, and there is still an issue as to the intrinsic validity of the will which the court
should proceed to determine first. Finally, court held that right to possession of Executor is not absolute, only as it is
necessary for the payment of debts and expenses of administration.

ISSUES: Whether the probate court, after admitting the will to probate but before payment of the estates debts and
obligations, has the authority:

(1) To grant an allowance from the funds of the estate for the support of the testators grandchildren? NO
(2) To order the release of the titles to certain heirs? NO
(3) Petitioner claims that the assailed order deprived him of his right to take possession of all the real and
personal properties of the estate? NO

HELD:

1. Grandchildren are not entitled to provisional support from the funds of the decedents estate. (R83.3)
The law clearly limits the allowance to "widow and children" and does not extend it to the deceased's grandchildren,
regardless of their minority or incapacity. It was error, therefore, for the appellate court to sustain the probate courts
order granting an allowance to the grandchildren of the testator pending settlement of his estate.

2. Respondent courts also erred when they ordered the release of the titles of the bequeathed properties to private
respondents. In settlement of estate proceedings, the distribution of the estate properties can only be made:
(1) after all the debts and obligations have been paid; or
(2) only if the distributees or any of them gives a bond in a sum fixed by the court conditioned upon the
payment of said obligations.

3. (R84.3)
As executor, he cannot unilaterally assign to himself and possess all his parents properties and the fruits thereof.
The right of an executor or administrator to the possession and management of the real and personal properties of
the deceased is not absolute and can only be exercised so long as it is necessary for the payment of the debts and
expenses of administration.

He should first submit an accounting of the necessary expenses for administration before he be released any more
money.

In the case at bar, he was already granted release of funds for the repair and maintenance expenses and payment of
real estate taxes, w/o rendering accounting for the same. However, he only deposited a portion of 1-year rental
income from the Valle Verde property, but not the succeeding rents. Also no accounting of such funds was made.

Petitioners right of ownership over the properties of his father is merely inchoate as long as the estate has not been
fully settled and partitioned. As executor, he is a mere trustee of his father's estate. The funds of the estate in his
hands are trust funds and he is held to the duties and responsibilities of a trustee of the highest order. He cannot
unilaterally assign to himself and possess all his parents' properties and the fruits thereof without first submitting an
inventory and appraisal of all real and personal properties of the deceased, rendering a true account of his
administration, the expenses of administration, the amount of the obligations and estate tax, all of which are subject
to a determination by the court.