Sunday, June 17, 2012

Martinez v Martinez March 31, 1902 G.R. No. 445

J. Cooper

This is an action brought by Pedro Martinez Ilustre, the son and the compulsory legal heir, against Francisco Martinez Garcia for a declaration of prodigality against the father.
The son claimed that the father is dissipating and squandering his estate by making donations to his second wife and to her parents of properties amounting to over $200,000; that he has given over the administration of this estate to the management of his wife; that the defendant has a propensity for litigation and has instituted groundless actions against the plaintiff in order to take possession of the property held in common with the plaintiff to give it to his wife and her relatives.
The defendant alleged that he has executed in favor of the plaintiff a general power of attorney under which the plaintiff has administered the community estate for several years; that the plaintiff has caused the ships Germana, Don Francisco, and Balayan, belonging to the estate, to be registered in his own name without the consent of the father and is otherwise mismanaging and misappropriating the property of the estate, which caused the defendant to revoke the power of attorney given to plaintiff, and that the suit brought by the defendant against the plaintiff was due to the attitude of the son, who, notwithstanding the fact that the power of attorney had been revoked, refused to render an account of his administration.
The Court of First Instance rendered judgment against the plaintiff and adjudged the costs against him. The plaintiff has appealed to this court.

Issue: Is the father suffering from prodigality thereby injuring the estate of his son?

Held: No. Petition dismissed

The acts which constitute prodigality are not defined in the Civil Code owing to the difficulty of applying general rules to the varying circumstances of the case and the different situations of persons.
Under our law it may inferred that the acts of prodigality must show a morbid state of mind and a disposition to spend, waste, and lessen the estate to such an extent as is likely to expose the family to want of support, or to deprive the forced heirs of their undisposable part of the estate.
Donations are considered as acts of liberality dictated by generosity and affection. All persons who can contract and dispose of property may make donations. (Art. 624 of the Civil Code.)
Public policy requires that limitations of the character mentioned should be imposed upon the owner, but a law which would impose restrictions further than such as are required by public policy may well be regarded unjust and tending in a contrary direction, as destroying the incentive to acquire property, and as subduing the generous impulse of the heart.
While some of the witnesses state that the possessions of the wife have greatly increased since her marriage, there is no evidence whatever to show that there has been any perceptible diminution of the defendant’s property. This can be accounted for only on the grounds that the father, so far from being a prodigal, is still in the full exercise of his faculties and still possesses the industry, thrift, and ability that resulted in the accumulation of a splendid estate after the date of his marriage with the mother of the plaintiff, to one-half of which estate the plaintiff has succeeded as heir of the mother.
A careful consideration of the evidence is sufficient to induce the belief that the plaintiff himself possesses that propensity for instituting lawsuits which he unjustly attributes to his father.

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