• Heir deprived of inheritance can still claim his share

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    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    My mother got married to Pons two years after the death of my father. Pons did not accept me as his child and he even maltreated me whenever he had a chance. He made sure that my half-brother will be treated favorably in everything. My mother died in 2011. I heard from one relative that Pons and my half-brother, who is now of legal age, had executed an extrajudicial settlement of estate and sold a two-hectare farmland to our neighbor. I tried to talk to Pons with the assistance of some relatives in order to claim my share in the property. The meeting, however, failed because Pons insisted that the farmland was purchased during his marriage with my mother and thus, I had no valid claim to the property. I would like to know if I am entitled to inherit under the circumstance.
    Arthur

    Dear Arthur,
    Extrajudicial settlement by agreement between the heirs is governed by Section 1, Rule 74 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Court, which specifically states:
    “xxx xxx xxx.

    The fact of extrajudicial settlement or administration shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the manner provided in the next succeeding section; but no extrajudicial settlement shall be binding upon any person who has not participated therein or had no notice thereof.”

    In the instant case, it is clear that you were deprived of your inheritance because Pons and your half-brother excluded you from the execution of the extrajudicial settlement and sold the property to a neighbor. Under Article 979 of the New Civil Code, “legitimate children and their descendants succeed the parents and other ascendants, without distinction as to sex or age, and even if they should come from different marriages. Xxx xxx xxx.” Also, a legitimate child like you is one of those enumerated under Article 887 of the same law as compulsory heirs who are entitled to a legitime.

    The extrajudicial settlement then executed by Pons and your half-brother is void. The sale, however, of the property to your neighbor is valid only with respect to their legitime and invalid with respect to your share. In the case of Neri et al. vs. Heirs of Hadji and Julpha Uy (G.R. No. 194366, October 10, 2012), Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe stated:

    “Hence, in the execution of the extrajudicial 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.
    Xxx xxx xxx.
    Xxxxxx xxx.

    While the settlement of the estate is null and void, however, the subsequent sale of the subject properties made by Enrique and his children, Napoleon, Alicia and Visminda, in favor of the respondents is valid but only with respect to their proportionate shares therein. It cannot be denied that these heirs have acquired their respective shares in the properties of Anunciacion from the moment of her death and that, as owners thereof, they can very well sell their undivided share in the estat.”

    Applying this decision to your case, the extrajudicial settlement is not binding upon you, because you were excluded; hence you can file an appropriate action in court for its nullification. Such nullification includes the Deed of Sale to the extent that you were deprived of your legitime or 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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