I want to know if I have a right to receive a share in the inheritance of my deceased father from his unmarried and childless sister who recently died. I am an illegitimate child of my father who died when I was still a child. When the rich sister of my father who is my aunt died this year, I received an information that my step siblings who are legitimate children of my father will be receiving an inheritance from the share of my deceased father from his sister’s estate while I was told that I will not receive anything from the estate of my aunt, because I am an illegitimate child. Is this legal? I hope you can advise me on this matter.
Your status as an illegitimate child affects your legal right to inherit from your father’s sister. This is because according to the New Civil Code of the Philippines:
“An illegitimate child has no right to inherit ab intestate from the legitimate children and relatives of his father and mother; nor shall such children or relatives inherit in the same manner from the illegitimate child.” (Article 992)
As expressly stated in this provision, illegitimate children cannot inherit from the legitimate relatives of their parents except through a last will and testament, known as testamentary succession. Thus, you cannot inherit as intestate from your aunt who is a legitimate relative of your father.
This law was cited by the Supreme Court in the case of Leonardi vs. Court of Appeals(120 SCRA 890, 1983), in ruling that an illegitimate child cannot inherit from his great grandparent for being an illegitimate child which is similar to your situation.
Please note however that, under the normal circumstances, nephews may inherit from their aunts through the right of representation that is provided by law as:
“…a right created by fiction of law, by virtue of which the representative is raised to the place and degree of the person represented, and acquires the right, which the latter would have if he were living or if he could have inherited.” (Article 970, NCC)
This rule, however, applies only to legitimate nephews or other relatives. And since it was established that you are an illegitimate child, the law prohibiting illegitimate children to represent their father’s share in the inheritance from his relatives shall apply.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org