My husband passed away without a will two months ago. The only property that he left is our combined savings in the bank amounting to P2,800,000.00. We have two children, Carl and Isabelle, who are both still in college. My husband also has two daughters out of wedlock whom he had even before we met. Please give us an advice as to how we should legally divide the money left by my now deceased husband.
Assuming that you and your deceased husband did not agree on any property relation prior to your marriage, then an absolute community of property governs your property relations. This means that all the property owned by you and your husband at the time of the celebration of the marriage or acquired thereafter is co-owned between you and your husband (Article 91, Civil Code of the Philippines). Simply put, your husband owns half of your property, while you own the other half. Upon your husband’s death, the absolute community of property is dissolved and your husband’s share in the absolute community of property will form part of his estate.
You mentioned in your letter that your combined savings account is the only property left by your husband. Thus, his estate consists of One Million Four Hundred Thousand Pesos (P1,400,000.00), which is one-half of your joint savings account. Your husband’s estate should be divided among his compulsory heirs, namely: (i) your legitimate children; (ii) you; and (iii) your husband’s illegitimate children. The following provisions in the Civil Code of the Philippines will guide you in the disposition of your husband’s estate:
“Article 888. The legitime of the legitimate children and descendants consists of one-half of the hereditary estate of the father and of the mother.
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Article 895. The legitime of each of the acknowledged natural children and each of the natural children by legal fiction shall consist of one-half of the legitime of each of the legitimate children or descendants
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Article 897. When the widow or widower survives with legitimate children or descendants, and acknowledged natural children, or natural children by legal fiction, such surviving spouse shall be entitled to a portion equal to the legitime of each of the legitimate children which must be taken from that part of the estate which the testator can freely dispose of.
Article 898. If the widow or widower survives with legitimate children or descendants, and with illegitimate children other than acknowledged natural, or natural children by legal fiction, the share of the surviving spouse shall be the same as that provided in the preceding article.”
Based on the aforementioned provisions, your children are entitled to one-half of the estate left by your husband that must be equally divided between the two of them. Thus, they are each entitled to one-fourth of the money left by your husband or Three Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos (P350,000.00) each. As the legal spouse of your husband, you are entitled to a share equal to that of your children. Hence, you also get one-fourth of the estate or Three Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos (P350,000.00). Lastly, the illegitimate children left by your husband are entitled to a share equal to one-half of the share of a legitimate child. Since your legitimate children will each get one-fourth of the estate; then, your husband’s two (2) illegitimate children are each entitled to one-eight of the estate left by your husband or One Hundred Seventy-Five Thousand Pesos (P175,000.00) per illegitimate child.
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 email@example.com