I have a close family friend who is supposed to inherit a substantial amount of money from one of his relatives. I learned, however, that this friend of mine intends to waive her claim to the inheritance for allegedly private reasons. While I respect my friend’s personal decision to renounce her inheritance, I am at the same time somehow bothered by her decision, since I know for a fact that my friend has a huge debt to several people including my uncle. Because of this, I want to know if there is a way to force my friend to accept her inheritance, so that she may pay her debts with it, or can my uncle get her share of inheritance instead as payment for her debts? I already talked to my friend about this to try to convince her to accept her inheritance, but she insists on finding some other ways to pay her debts other than accepting the inheritance. Please advise us on what to do. Thank you.
If trying to talk your friend to convince her to accept her inheritance so that she may be able to pay her debt to your uncle doesn’t work, then you may advise your uncle, as one of the creditors of your friend, to file a legal action so that he may claim your friend’s inheritance as payment for her debt.
This legal remedy is possible and provided for by the Civil Code of the Philippines which states that:
“Article 1052. If the heir repudiates the inheritance to the prejudice of his own creditors, the latter may petition the court to authorize them to accept it in the name of the heir.The acceptance shall benefit the creditors only to an extent sufficient to cover the amount of their credits. The excess, should there be any, shall in no case pertain to the renouncer, but shall be adjudicated to the persons to whom, in accordance with the rules established in this code, it may belong.”
This provision is applicable to your uncle’s situation since your friend who is your uncle’s debtor is an heir who repudiates her inheritance. This decision of your friend to renounce her inheritance prejudices your uncle since this will unfavorably affect her ability to pay her debts to him. As such, the law allows your uncle, as a prejudiced creditor, to file a petition to the court so that he may be legally authorized to accept a part of her inheritance that is enough to satisfy her debts to him.
This remedy is also similarly expressed in another provision of the Civil Code which states,:
“Article 1177. The creditors, after having pursued the property in possession of the debtor to satisfy their claims, may exercise all the rights and bring all the actions of the latter for the same purpose, save those which are inherent in his person; they may also impugn the acts which the debtor may have done to defraud them.”
Thus, your uncle may rightfully and legally claim your friend’s inheritance in order to satisfy his claims against her as her creditor. It should be noted, however, that the right of your uncle as to accept the inheritance of your friend extends only to the amount sufficient to satisfy her obligation to your uncle and that any amount exceeding her obligation is still subject to the repudiation of your friend as an heir.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org