• Extrajudicial settlement depriving an heir of his legitime is void


    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    I am an acknowledged illegitimate child of my father who died without a will. My father was legally married to Maria in 1995, and they begot two children. My mother died last year and she told me to claim my share in the properties left by my father. Maria, however, claimed that I have no right whatsoever, with respect to all the properties left by my father. She presented to me the extrajudicial settlement where she and her children adjudicated unto themselves all the properties left by my father. Most of these properties were already sold, and the certificates of title covering said properties were already cancelled. Can I still claim my share in the properties left by my father even if I was excluded in the extrajudicial settlement?

    Dear Alona,
    The provisions on legal succession shall govern the estate left by your father considering that he died without a will. All heirs became co-owners pro-indiviso of the estate left. This is pursuant to Article 983 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines, which states that “if illegitimate children survive with legitimate children, the shares of the former shall be in the proportions prescribed by Article 895.”

    Relative thereto, Article 895 of the same code provides:

    “The legitime of each acknowledged natural child 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.
    Xxx xxx xxx

    The legitime of the illegitimate children shall be taken from the portion of the estate at the free disposal of the testator, provided that in no case shall the total legitime of such illegitimate children exceed that free portion, and that the legitime of the surviving spouse must first be fully satisfied.”

    The abovementioned laws clearly establish your right as an heir with respect to the estate of your father.
    In the case of The Roman Catholic Bishop of Tuguegarao vs. Prudencio et al. (GR No. 187942, September 7, 2016), the Supreme Court through Associate Justice Francis H. Jardeleza ruled that:

    “In the execution of the Extra Judicial Settlement of the Estate with Absolute Deed of Sale in favor of spouses Uy, all the heirs of Anunciacion should have participated. Considering that Eutropia and Victoria were admittedly excluded and that then minors Rosa and Douglas were not properly represented therein, the settlement was not valid and binding upon them and consequently, a total nullity.

    The effect of excluding the heirs in the settlement of estate was further elucidated in Segura v. Segura, thus:
    It is clear that Section 1 of Rule 74 does not apply to the partition in question which was null and void as far as the plaintiffs were concerned. The rule covers only valid partitions. The partition in the present case was invalid because it excluded six of the nine heirs who were entitled to equal shares in the partitioned property. Under the rule ‘no extrajudicial settlement shall be binding upon any person who has not participated therein or had no notice thereof.’ As the partition was a total nullity and did not affect the excluded heirs, it was not correct for the trial court to hold that their right to challenge the partition had prescribed after two years from its execution x x x.”

    Applying the said decision in your situation, the extrajudicial settlement executed by Maria and her children is void since you are excluded. Further, all the dispositions made by Maria and her children involving the said properties are valid only with respect to their proportionate shares and void with respect to your legitime or share. You can still claim your inheritance by filing the appropriate petition for nullification of the extrajudicial settlement and dispositions made to the extent that you were deprived of your inheritance.

    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 dearpao@manilatimes.net


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