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  • According to the Law: Compulsory Heirs

    Find out what makes someone a compulsory heir and what happens when there are no legal heirs or no will.
    by Atty. Cecilia L. Real .
To read this story in Tagalog, click here.
  • kid hand braceletQ: Why do I need to write a will when my child is assured of his inheritance as my heir?

    A: There is testate (with a will) and intestate (without a will) succession to an inheritance. In both instances, the compulsory heirs are assured of their legitime (that portion of the inheritance that cannot be given away as it is reserved for compulsory heirs).  Our New Civil Code provides:

    Art. 887. The following are compulsory heirs:
    (1) Legitimate children and descendants, with respect to their legitimate parents and ascendants;
    (2) In default of the foregoing, legitimate parents and ascendants, with respect to their legitimate children and descendants;
    (3) The widow or widower;
    (4) Acknowledged natural children, and natural children by legal fiction;
    (5) Other illegitimate children referred to in Article 287.
    Compulsory heirs mentioned in Nos. 3, 4, and 5 are not excluded by those in Nos. 1 and 2; neither do they exclude one another.

    Where there is a will, the Testator may freely dispose the free portion of the estate (one half of the hereditary estate) subject to the legitime of a surviving spouse (Article 888 of the New Civil Code).

    Where there is no will, the estate is allocated in equal shares to compulsory heirs of the decedent. Where there are no compulsory heirs, the legal heirs of the decedent (brothers, sisters, relatives) inherit their shares by operation of law. Where there are no legal heirs, the estate of decedent goes to the State.

    Art. 962. In every inheritance, the relative nearest in degree excludes the more distant ones, saving the right of representation when it properly takes place.

    Writing a will is not necessary because intestate succession can always take place in the absence of any will.

    The question remains, would one want to have control over the distribution of his/her estate upon his/her death? If the answer is no, then the writing of a will is not necessary. The compulsory heirs, the legal heirs, or the State are always assured of their shares to one’s inheritance by operation of law.

    Photo from sxc.hu

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