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Here's What PH Law Says About Leaving Property to Your Heirs

Have you ever wondered how to legally divide inherited property among children and spouses? We answer everything here (and bookmark this page!).
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Have you ever wondered what would happen if you suddenly die without a last will and testament? Then your estate goes to your compulsory heirs. They are assured of their legitime, or the portion of the inheritance that cannot be given away as it is reserved, by law, for compulsory heirs. 

As indicated in Article 887 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, your compulsory heirs are:

Primary - Legitimate children and/or descendants

Secondary - Legitimate parents and/or ascendants; illegitimate parents (will inherit only in default of the primary heirs)

Concurring - Surviving spouse; illegitimate children and/or descendants

Barring any impediments, legal or otherwise, the Civil Code of the Philippines implements the division of the estate in the following manner:

For computation purposes only, find out the value of half of the deceased person's estate. Think of 1/2 as the "free portion" mandated by law. The other 1/2 (referred to as "hereditary estate") is what is, in theory, immediately ready for division. 

1| One legitimate child is entitled to 1/2 of the hereditary estate. Two or more legitimate children are entitled to divide the 1/2 of the hereditary estate equally among themselves.

2|The surviving spouse is entitled to 1/4 of the hereditary estate if there is only one legitimate child. With two or more legitimate children, he or she is entitled to a portion equal to the legitime of a legitimate child. The legitime of the surviving spouse is taken from the free portion of the estate.

3|The legitime of illegitimate children is taken from the free portion of the hereditary estate, provided that this does not exceed the free portion. The Family Code of the Philippines provides that the legitime of each illegitimate child is 1/2 that of a legitimate child. 

4| If the person has no legitimate children or descendants, the legitime of legitimate parents or ascendants consists of 1/2 of the hereditary estate of their children and descendants.

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5| What remains of the "free portion" may be freely disposed of, subject to the rights of the illegitimate children and surviving spouse. This part of the estate can go to any person or class of persons with the capacity to succeed under the Civil Code, even if that person is already a compulsory heir with a prescribed legitime.

However, as Atty. Easter Norie Talip of the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) in Pagadian City advises, "This is a complicated matter which is discussed in a five-unit course in law school. It is necessary for the claimants to consult experts in the event that there is no last will and testament."

This article originally appeared as a sidebar in "The Starter Guide to Estate Planning" in the May 2015 issue of Good Housekeeping Magazine Philippines

This story originally appeared on Realliving.com.ph.

* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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