The Regional Trial Court in Bacolod City has approved the petition of Olivia Villaflores Yanson, matriarch of the Yanson Group of Bus Companies, for the probate of her last will and testament, which disinherits four of her children and names two others as universal heirs.
In a decision dated August 31, 2023, and was penned by Bacolod City Regional Trial Court Branch 44 Presiding Judge Ana Celeste P. Bernad, she ruled that Oliva Villaflores Yanson’s last will and testament is valid and enforceable.
Oliva and her husband, the late Ricardo Yanson Sr., who founded Vallacar Transit Inc. in 1968 and later became the largest bus company in the Philippines, named their children Leo Rey and Ginnette as universal heirs in her will.
The Yanson 4 were therefore disinherited.
In April 2019, Yanson filed a petition for the probate of her last will and testament, but four of her other children, Roy, Emily, Ma. Lourdes Celina, and Ricardo Jr., also known as the Yanson 4, opposed the probate of her last will, alleging that their mother was under undue influence and pressure from their siblings Leo Rey and Ginnette.
But Bernad in her decision noted that the opponents of the probate process failed to present any evidence to the court showing that undue influence or pressure was exerted on the petitioner before or during the execution of her last will and testament.
The petitioner (Olivia) presented evidence to the court showing that it was her own decision to make a last will and testament, and that she instructed her lawyers to prepare a draft that followed all of her wishes.
Olivia was 85 years old when she executed her last will and testament, and she was able to prove that she was of sound mind and memory, and that she was not suffering from any disability or impairment at the time.
The petitioner also testified that she was aware of the nature and extent of her estate, and that she understood the importance and consequences of making a last will and testament.
The will was signed by the petitioner in the presence of four subscribing witnesses, and it was acknowledged by a notary public in the presence of the petitioner and the instrumental witnesses.
Judge Bernad noted that in considering the petition and opposition, the court followed the pronouncements of the Supreme Court and focused on the issue of the extrinsic validity of Olivia Yanson’s last will and testament.
The Supreme Court in a 2020 ruling said that “the main issue which the court must determine in a probate proceeding is the due execution or the extrinsic validity of the will as provided in Section 1, Rule 75 of the Rules of Court.”
This means that the probate court cannot inquire into the intrinsic validity of the will or the disposition of the testator’s estate. Instead, the focus is on whether the testator was of sound mind and memory, and whether they freely and voluntarily executed the will in accordance with the formalities required by law.
Based on the evidence presented, Judge Bernad concluded that Olivia Yanson was of sound mind and memory when she executed her last will and testament, and that she freely and voluntarily executed it without any undue influence or pressure being exerted on her.