How much is my inheritance?
Inheritance is a topic that is often associated with death, and can be a sensitive issue for many families. When a person passes away, assets and properties owned by them at the time of their death forms part of their estate for their heirs. Generally, the rules on inheritance are governed by laws of the country which the person is a citizen of.
In the Philippines, while a person may execute a will to specify how their assets are to be distributed, the law limits this freedom as there are compulsory heirs.
On the other hand, when a person dies without a will, the rules on intestate succession determine who the heirs are and the share of the estate they are entitled to.
Some of the more common questions lawyers are asked when it comes to settling the estate of the deceased are:
1. Will the surviving spouse get half of the estate ?
2. What is my share or what is the division among the surviving heirs?
The answer to the first question depends on whether the property of the husband and wife are considered to be jointly owned by law.
The husband and wife can enter into a prenuptial agreement, or a “prenup,” where they can agree on a complete or partial separation of their property.
The Family Code of the Philippines provides that a prenup must be in writing, signed by both parties and executed before the celebration of the marriage. (Article 77) Without such an agreement, the default property arrangement between husband and wife will either be the Conjugal Partnership of Gains (CPG) or the Absolute Community of Gains (ACP).
The CPG is the default property regime of a husband and wife whose marriage was celebrated before 3 August 1988 where all proceeds, products, fruits, and income from separate properties of the spouses, and those acquired by either or both spouses through their efforts or chance, belong to the partnership, except those:
1. brought to the marriage as their own
2. acquired by each during the marriage by gratuitous title such as donation
3. acquired by right of redemption, by barter or by exchange with property belonging to only one of the spouses
4. purchased with exclusive money of the wife or husband
Marriages celebrated on Aug 3, 1988 and onwards, without a prenup, are governed by the ACP where all properties of the husband and wife before the marriage, and those acquired during the marriage, form part of the ACP to be shared equally between them save for those:
1. acquired during the marriage by gratuitous title such as by way of donation or inheritance including the fruits and income
2. which are for personal and exclusive use of either spouse
3. acquired before the marriage if the acquiring party has legitimate descendants (children, grandchildren) by a former marriage and the fruits and income of such property
4. losses by one spouse during the marriage in any game of chance, betting, sweepstakes, or any other kind of gambling, is borne by the loser. However, winnings shall form part of the community property (Article 95, Family Code)
(Family Code of the Philippines, Article 91).
Accordingly, when one spouse dies, the properties that are part of the CPG or ACP are jointly owned by the spouses. The surviving spouse owns half of the properties which does not form part of the estate of the deceased.
The one-half share, as well as properties exclusively owned by the surviving spouse, is not the share of the surviving spouse in inheritance, but their own property which does not form part of the estate of the deceased.
Separate from this, the surviving spouse inherits from the estate of the deceased as a compulsory heir.
As mentioned in our previous article, Philippine law identifies compulsory heirs of the deceased who are entitled by law to a defined portion of the assets of Estate who are the: (a) children, legitimate, illegitimate and adopted, and descendants; (b) parents and ascendants; and (c) the surviving legal spouse of the deceased. (Arellano, et al. v. Pascual, et. al., G.R. No. 189776, Dec 15, 2010)
Coming now to the question of what will be one’s share in the estate of the deceased, below are some of the usual combinations of heirs and the share of inheritance they are entitled to.
In the examples below, it is assumed that the deceased died without a will, the surviving spouse is legally married to the deceased, and the value of the estate is P1,000.
1.) 1 legitimate and 1 illegitimate child – illegitimate child receives the equivalent of one-half of the legitimate child’s share. The legitimate child will inherit P666, and the illegitimate child, P333.
2.) 4 legitimate and 2 illegitimate children – each illegitimate child receives the equivalent of one-half of the share of a legitimate child. The legitimate children will inherit P200 each, and the illegitimate children Php100 each.
3.) 1 legitimate and 3 illegitimate children –The share of the legitimate child is one-half of the estate and will not be reduced. It shall be the share of the illegitimate children that will be adjusted based on the value of the estate, dividing the remaining half amongst them. The legitimate child will receive P500 and each illegitimate child will receive P166.
4.) 2 legitimate and 2 illegitimate children – an illegitimate child will inherit half that of the legitimate child. Each legitimate child will inherit P333 while each illegitimate child will inherit P166.
5.) 1 legitimate child and surviving spouse – legitimate child inherits half or P500 and the surviving spouse inherits the other half or P500.
6.) 2 legitimate children and surviving spouse – surviving spouse has a share equal to that of a legitimate child such that all 3 heirs will receive P333 each.
7.) 1 legitimate, 1 illegitimate child and surviving spouse – The surviving spouse receives one-fourth of the Estate from the free portion. The legitimate child inherits P500, the illegitimate child one-half of the legitimate which is P250 and the surviving spouse P250.
8.) Surviving spouse, 1 legitimate and 2 illegitimate children – legitimate child inherits P500, the 2 illegitimate children inherit the equivalent of half of the amount or P250 shared equally between them, and the surviving spouse inherits P250 or one-fourth of the estate.
9.) 2 legitimate children, surviving spouse, and 4 illegitimate children – legitimate children inherit P250 each, the surviving legal spouse P250, and the 4 illegitimate children P62.50 each.
When the estate is insufficient, the illegitimate children’s share are to be reduced accordingly.
10.) Surviving spouse and 1 illegitimate child – the surviving spouse inherits P500 and the illegitimate child inherits P500. If there is more than one illegitimate child, the P500 is divided among them equally.
11.) Legitimate parents or grandparents, surviving spouse, and illegitimate children – illegitimate children inherit one-fourth of the estate or P250 shared equally among them, the surviving spouse inherits P250 and the legitimate parents inherit P500. In the event that the parents are deceased, the grandparents will inherit half of the estate with the paternal and maternal side sharing the amount equally.
12.) Legitimate parents, grandparents, and illegitimate children – illegitimate children will inherit half or P500 shared equally among them, legitimate parents get the remaining half or P500. If only the grandparents are alive, they will inherit the one-half share.
13.) Surviving spouse and siblings – surviving spouse and the siblings of the deceased inherit half each of the estate, or P500 each.
14.) Surviving spouse, legitimate parents or grandparents, and no children – surviving spouse inherits half of the estate and the parents inherit the other half. If the parents are deceased, then the grandparents shall inherit the remaining half.
15.) Legal spouse and illegitimate parents – surviving spouse inherits half and illegitimate parents the remaining half.
(The author, Atty. John Philip C. Siao, is a practicing lawyer and founding Partner of Tiongco Siao Bello & Associates Law Offices, teaches law at the MLQU School of Law, and an Arbitrator of the Construction Industry Arbitration Commission of the Philippines. He may be contacted at [email protected] The views expressed in this article belong to the author alone.)
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