The following is a news release from the publicist of Olivia Yanson, matriarch of the family that owns and operates the biggest fleet of buses in Southeast Asia under the Yanson Group of Bus Companies. It is printed in full.
A Bacolod City regional trial court approved the petition of Yanson Group of Bus Companies matriarch Olivia Villaflores Yanson for probate of her last will and testament disinheriting four of her children and naming two as her universal heirs.
Bacolod City Regional Trial Court Branch 44 Presiding Judge Ana Celeste P. Bernad in Special Proclamation No. 19-2771 dated August 31, 2023 said “the last will and testament of Olivia Villaflores Yanson is allowed probate as it complied with the formalities required by law”.
Olivia, who together with her husband, the late Ricardo Yanson Sr. established Vallacar Transit Inc. in 1968 that eventually became the largest bus company in the Philippines, named her children Leo Rey and Ginnette as the universal heirs in her will.
It may be recalled that on April 15, 2019, Yanson filed a petition for probate of her last will and testament, which was docketed as Special Proceedings No. 19-2771.
Olivia’s four other children—Roy, Emily, Ma. Lourdes Celina and Ricardo Jr.—who are collectively known as the Yanson 4, opposed the probate of her will, saying their mother was under due and improper influence and pressure from Leo Rey and Ginnette.
Judge Bernad, in her proclamation, said the oppositors to the probate process had not presented any evidence to the court that would show that there was undue influence or pressure exerted on the petitioner before or during the execution of her last will and testament.
The court said the petitioner (Olivia) has shown to the court and proved that it was her personal decision to make a last will and testament and that she asked her lawyers to prepare a draft containing all the provisions she wanted.
Olivia was 85 years old when she made her last will and testament and proved she was in full possession of all her reasoning faculties or her mind was unbroken, unimpaired or unshattered by disease, injury or other cause at that time.
The petitioner said she knew the nature and extent of her estate and she clearly understood the importance and consequences of making a last will and testament.
The petitioner signed the will in the presence of four subscribing witnesses. The will was also acknowledged before a notary public by the petitioner and the instrumental witnesses.
Judge Bernad said that in considering the petition and the opposition, the court kept the pronouncements of the Supreme Court in mind and only looked at the issue of the extrinsic validity of the last will and testament of Olivia Yanson.
The Supreme Court in a 2020 ruling said “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.”
It said the probate court could not inquire into the intrinsic validity of the will or the disposition of the estate by the testator. Thus, due execution is “whether the testator, being sound of mind, freely executed the will in accordance with the formalities prescribed by law.”