My grandparents died five years ago. They left several properties to their three children. We all know that these properties shall be divided into three and in fact my father and his two siblings are in the process of partitioning these properties. Is it possible that the ancestral house be left unpartitioned as suggested by one of my father’s siblings?
Since there was no mention in your letter of a last will and testament executed by your grandparents, we will presume that there was none. We will likewise presume that the children of your grandparents are legitimate. Thus, the law on intestate succession shall govern the partition of their estate. According to this law, the said estate shall be divided among their three children in equal shares (Article 980, New Civil Code of the Philippines).
Partition, in general, is the separation, division and assignment of a thing held in common among those to whom it may belong (Article 1079, New Civil Code of the Philippines).
Likewise, every act which is intended to put an end to indivision among co-heirs is deemed to be a partition, although it should purport to be a sale, an exchange, a compromise, or any transaction (Article 1079, New Civil Code of the Philippines).
Under the law, a co-heir has a right to demand division or partition of the estate unless prohibited by the deceased through a last will and testament for a period not to exceed twenty (20) years (Article 1083, New Civil Code of the Philippines).
Since your grandparents did not execute any last will and testament, their estate may be partitioned among their heirs at any time after their death. However, if their heirs agree that the estate shall not be divided, they may do so for a period of ten (10) years, renewable for another ten (10) years. This is according to Article 494 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines:
“Art. 494. No co-owner shall be obliged to remain in the co-ownership. Each co-owner may demand at any time the partition of the thing owned in common, insofar as his share is concerned.
Nevertheless, an agreement to keep the thing undivided for a certain period of time, not exceeding ten years, shall be valid. This term may be extended by a new agreement.
Co-ownership was formed from the moment your grandparents died and passed the ownership of their properties among their children. Pending division of these properties, the same is owned in common by their children equally.
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.