I am an illegitimate child. The person who signed in my birth certificate is not my biological father, but my biological father recognized me. He even provided financial support for my basic needs and for my entire education. Right now, he is still single but is already a senior citizen. I just want to know if I have a right over his real properties, or does the right belong to my father’s siblings? Please advise me. Thank you.
At this point, only your biological father possesses the right over his real properties given the fact that he is still alive and he is the owner thereof. As a rule, the owner has the right to enjoy and dispose the things he owns, without other limitations than those established by law (Article 428, New Civil Code of the Philippines).
It is only upon your biological father’s death that such rights are transmitted to his heirs. This takes place through succession whereby the property, rights and obligations of a person, to the extent of the value of the inheritance, are transmitted through his death to another or others either by his will or by operation of law. (Article 774, Ibid.)
Now, as to who among you or your father’s siblings have the right to your biological father’s real properties after his demise depends on: (1) the existence of proof on your part that you have been recognized by him pursuant to law; and (2) whether your biological father left a last will and testament or not.
Proof of filiation is essential especially when what exists between the decedent and the heir is an illegitimate relationship. Pursuant to Article 175 of the Family Code of the Philippines, illegitimate children may establish their illegitimate filiation in the same way and on the same evidence as legitimate children. Relative to this, Article 172 of the Family Code states that legitimate filiation is established through: (a) the record of birth of the child as appearing in the civil register or a final judgment; or (b) an admission of legitimate filiation in a public document or a private handwritten instrument and signed by the parent concerned. In the absence thereof, such filiation may be proved by: (a) the open and continuous possession of the status of an illegitimate child; or (b) any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws. Consequently, if you are able to prove your filiation with your biological father in consonance with the foregoing, you have the right to receive your legitime upon his demise.
We want to emphasize though that if your biological father passes away leaving a last will and testament, the provisions thereof must be observed insofar as the disposition of the free portion of his estate. Accordingly, his siblings will be entitled to receive whatever is bequeathed in their favor as long as such bequeathal is provided in the will and the property involved forms part of the free portion of the said estate.
On the other hand, if your biological father left no will, you will be entitled to receive his entire estate. There is no provision under the New Civil Code which recognizes the concurrence of illegitimate children and collateral relatives of the decedent. Moreover, Article 988 of the New Civil Code provides that: “In the absence of legitimate descendants or ascendants, the illegitimate children shall succeed to the entire estate of the deceased.”
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