I am the youngest in our family. I have been told that my father is not my real father and that I was born out of my mother’s infidelity to him. Despite this, I have always been close to him. My siblings and I have been living together since we were young and I never felt I was being treated differently by our father. My birth certificate also indicates his name as my father.
Just last year, our father passed away. My siblings are now saying that I am not entitled to any of the properties left by our father, but I have his last will and testament and I was given a portion of his properties. I just want to know if my siblings can really deny me of my share. Please advise me on what I can do. I am not asking to be given all of our father’s properties. I just want to get what he chose to be mine as mentioned in his will. Thank you in advance and more power.
Under our law, a person who is of legal age and who is not expressly prohibited by law may make a will (Article 796, New Civil Code of the Philippines). The making of such will allows the testator to control to a certain degree the disposition of his estate, although it will only take effect after his demise (Article 783, Ibid.).
In the situation that you have presented before us, we believe that the provisions of the last will and testament which your late father has executed must be respected. But this notwithstanding, his will must first be brought to court for its probate in order that the properties subject thereof may be disposed accordingly. This is in consonance with Section 1, Rule 75 of the Rules of Court, which provides: “No will shall pass either real or personal estate unless it is proved and allowed in the proper court. Subject to the right of appeal, such allowance of the will shall be conclusive as to its due execution.”
Insofar as the issue of your legitimacy, we believe that you will remain to be considered as a legitimate child if you were conceived or born during the marriage of your parents (Article 164, Family Code of the Philippines). Should your siblings wish to question your legitimacy, more so deny you of your share in the estate left by your father, they may only do so by filing an action in court to impugn your legitimacy. However, we wish to stress that such action may only be brought to court within one year from the knowledge of the birth or its recording in the civil register, if the father or, in a proper case, any of his heirs, should reside in the city or municipality where the birth took place or was recorded pursuant to Article 170, Id., and only on the grounds set under Article 166, Id.
We would like to emphasize also that, assuming your legitimacy is lawfully impugned in court by your siblings, a portion of the subject estate may still redound to you supposing the last will and testament which your late father executed is validly probated in court. Remember that the testator may dispose the free portion of his estate according to his own determination, and it is only that portion of his estate relating to the legitime of his compulsory heirs which may not be impaired.
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.
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