Bar Exam Questionnaire – “Civil Law” questions 3

James Ryan Jonas

Actual 2008 Philippine Bar Exams Questionnaire
CIVIL LAW (Part 3 of 5)

IX. The properties of Jessica and Jenny, who are neighbors, lie along the banks of the Marikina River. At certain times of the year, the river would swell and as the water recedes, soil, rocks and other materials are deposited on Jessica’s and Jenny’s properties. This pattern of the river swelling, receding and depositing soil and other materials being deposited on the neighbors’ properties have gone on for many years. Knowing this pattern, Jessica constructed a concrete barrier about 2 meters from her property line and extending towards the river, so that when the water recedes, soil and other materials are trapped within this barrier. After several years, the area between Jessica’s property line to the concrete barrier was completely filled with soil, effectively increasing Jessica’s property by 2 meters. Jenny’s property, where no barrier was constructed, also increased by one meter along the side of the river.

  • a) Can Jessica and Jenny legally claim ownership over the additional 2 meters and one meter, respectively, of land deposited along their properties? (2%)
  • b) If Jessica’s and Jenny’s properties are registered, will the benefit of such registration extend to the increased area of their properties? (2%)
  • c) Assume the two properties are on a cliff adjoining the shore of Laguna Lake. Jessica and Jenny had a hotel built on the properties. They had the earth and rocks excavated from the properties dumped on the adjoining shore, giving rise to a new patch of dry land. Can they validly lay claim to the patch of land? (2%)

X. Arthur executed a will which contained only: (i) a provision disinheriting his daughter Bernice for running off with a married man, and (ii) a provision disposing of his share in the family house and lot in favor of his other children Connie and Dora. He did not make any provisions in favor of his wife Erica, because as the will stated, she would anyway get ½ of the house and lot as her conjugal share. The will was very brief and straightforward and both the above provisions were contained in page 1, which Arthur and his instrumental witness, signed at the bottom. Page 2 contained the attestation clause and the signatures, at the bottom thereof, of the 3 instrumental witnesses which included Lambert, the driver of Arthur; Yoly, the family cook, and Attorney Zorba, the lawyer who prepared the will. There was a 3rd page, but this only contained the notarial acknowledgement. The attestation clause stated the will was signed on the same occasion by Arthur and his instrumental witnesses who all signed in the presence of each other, and the notary public who notarized the will. There are no marginal signatures or pagination appearing on any of the 3 pages. Upon his death, it was  discovered that apart from the house and lot, he had a P 1million account deposited with ABC Bank.

  • a) Was Erica preterited? (1%)
  • b) What other defects of the will, if any, can cause denial of probate?
  • c) Was the disinheritance valid? (1%)
  • d) How should the house and lot, and the cash be distributed? (1%)

XI. John and Paula, British citizens at birth, acquired Philippine citizenship by naturalization after their marriage. During their marriage the couple acquired substantial landholdings in London and in Makati. Paula bore John three children, Peter, Paul and Mary. In one of their trips to London, the couple executed a joint will appointing each other as their heirs and providing that upon the death of the survivor between them the entire estate would go to Peter and Paul only but the two could not dispose of nor divide the London estate as long as they live. John and Paula died tragically in the London Subway terrorist attack in 2005. Peter and Paul filed a petition for probate of their parent’s will before a Makati Regional Trial Court.

  • a) Should the will be admitted to probate? (2%)
  • b) Are the testamentary dispositions valid? (2%)
  • c) Is the testamentary prohibition against the division of the London
    estate valid? (2%)

XII. Ernesto, an overseas Filipino worker, was coming home to the Philippines after working for so many years in the Middle East. He had saved P100,000 in his savings account in Manila which he intended to use to start a business in his home country. On his flight home, Ernesto had a fatal heart attack. He left behind his widowed mother, his common-law wife and their twin sons. He left no will, no debts, no other relatives and no other properties except the money in his savings account. Who are the heirs entitled to inherit from him and how much should each receive? (3%)

Bar Exam Questions Reviewer:

James Ryan Jonas teaches business management, investments, and entrepreneurship at the University of the Philippines (UP). He is also the Executive Director of UP Provident Fund Inc., managing and investing P3.2 Billion ($56.4 Million) worth of retirement funds on behalf of thousands of UP employees.