I received a letter informing that my wife’s uncle who recently passed away included me and my wife in his last will where he gave us jointly, as husband and wife, a share in their land in the province. Now, I’m wondering how much will I receive and share in this inheritance considering that my wife was already dead long before her uncle passed away. Do I get my wife’s share or do I get only half of the inherited property? I hope you can help me clarify this matter. Thank you!
As you mentioned in the details of your question, you and your wife jointly received a property left by a last will. In such a situation, a specific provision of the Family Code applies wherein it states that:
“Art. 113. Property donated or left by will to the spouses, jointly and with designation of determinate shares, shall pertain to the donee-spouses as his or her own exclusive property, and in the absence of designation, share and share alike, without prejudice to the right of accretion when proper.”
Basing from this cited law, the property received by a last will shall be considered as the separate property of each spouse if the last will provides for a designated determinate share to be received by each of the spouse. But if the last will does not provide for a specific manner of sharing between the spouses, the husband and wife shall share together in the inherited property subject to the applicability of the right of accretion.
In your case, you have mentioned that the property left by will was given to you and your wife jointly without designation of specific sharing between the two of you. Thus, applying the abovementioned law, you are bound to share the inherited property with your wife subject to the right of accretion.
This right of accretion is essentially the right to include or add the property of a person to the property of another person. The applicability of right of accretion is important in your case because this answers your question as to whether you can include the share of your wife to your own share in the inherited property left by will.
For the right of accretion to apply the law states that:
“Article 1016. In order that the right of accretion may take place in a testamentary succession, it shall be necessary:
(1) That two or more persons be called to the same inheritance, or to the same portion thereof, pro indiviso; and
(2) That one of the persons thus called die before the testator, or renounce the inheritance, or be incapacitated to receive it” (Civil Code of the Philippines).
Both of the elements in determining the applicability of right of accretion are present in your situation. You and your wife were both called to the same undivided inheritance since you were designated jointly as heirs in her uncle’s last will, and that your wife died before the testator.
As a consequence of this right of accretion, the spouse to whom the inheritance accrues shall succeed to all the rights and obligations of the other spouse in the subject property which she could not receive (Art. 1020, Civil Code of the Philippines). Therefore, through accretion, you shall receive as your own, the share of your deceased wife in the inherited property left by a last will.
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