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Persons Case Digest: Bellis vs Bellis

Bellis vs Bellis
G.R. No. L-23678            June 6, 1967

Lessons Applicable: Divorce, Doctrine of Processual Presumption

Laws Applicable: Art. 16, 17 1039 NCC

Violet Kennedy (2nd wife) ß Amos G. Bellis --- Mary E. Mallen (1st wife)
Legitimate Children:                                      Legitimate Children:
Edward A. Bellis                                            Amos Bellis, Jr.                              
George Bellis (pre-deceased)                         Maria Cristina Bellis       
Henry A. Bellis                                              Miriam Palma Bellis
Alexander Bellis
Anna Bellis Allsman

  • Amos G. Bellis, a citizen of the State of Texas and of the United States.
  • By his first wife, Mary E. Mallen, whom he divorced, he had 5 legitimate children: Edward A. Bellis, George Bellis (who pre-deceased him in infancy), Henry A. Bellis, Alexander Bellis and Anna Bellis Allsman
  • By his second wife, Violet Kennedy, who survived him, he had 3 legitimate children: Edwin G. Bellis, Walter S. Bellis and Dorothy Bellis; and finally, he had three illegitimate children: Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis
  • August 5, 1952: Amos G. Bellis executed a will in the Philippines dividing his estate as follows:
1.    $240,000.00 to his first wife, Mary E. Mallen
2.    P40,000.00 each to his 3 illegitimate children, Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis, Miriam Palma Bellis
3.    remainder shall go to his seven surviving children by his first and second wives
  • July 8, 1958: Amos G. Bellis died a resident of Texas, U.S.A
  • September 15, 1958: his will was admitted to probate in the CFI of Manila on
  • People's Bank and Trust Company as executor of the will did as the will directed
  • Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis filed their respective oppositions on the ground that they were deprived of their legitimes as illegitimate children
  • Probate Court: Relying upon Art. 16 of the Civil Code, it applied the national law of the decedent, which in this case is Texas law, which did not provide for legitimes.
ISSUE: W/N Texas laws or national law of Amos should govern the intrinsic validity of the will

HELD: YES. Order of the probate court is hereby affirmed
  • Doctrine of Processual Presumption:
    • The foreign law, whenever applicable, should be proved by the proponent thereof, otherwise, such law shall be presumed to be exactly the same as the law of the forum.
    • In the absence of proof as to the conflict of law rule of Texas, it should not be presumed different from ours.  Apply Philippine laws.
  • Article 16, par. 2, and Art. 1039 of the Civil Code, render applicable the national law of the decedent, in intestate or testamentary successions, with regard to four items: (a) the order of succession; (b) the amount of successional rights; (e) the intrinsic validity of the provisions of the will; and (d) the capacity to succeed. They provide that —
  • ART. 16. Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the country where it is situated.
However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the order of succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever may he the nature of the property and regardless of the country wherein said property may be found.
  • ART. 1039. Capacity to succeed is governed by the law of the nation of the decedent.
  • The parties admit that the decedent, Amos G. Bellis, was a citizen of the State of Texas, U.S.A., and that under the laws of Texas, there are no forced heirs or legitimes. Accordingly, since the intrinsic validity of the provision of the will and the amount of successional rights are to be determined under Texas law, the Philippine law on legitimes cannot be applied to the testacy of Amos G. Bellis.