My father passed away in August of last year. He left only one small property in Mariveles, Bataan. He bought that property way before he and my mother got married. I live here in Manila, because I was transferred here by my employer five years ago. My brother lived with our parents in a rented apartment in Bataan. He took care of them, along with my nephew (my brother’s son out of wedlock). My nephew decided to live with his mother in another province after my mother and brother passed away in January 2015. I am now contemplating on transferring the title of my father’s property under my name, because he did not leave any last will, but I am not sure if I can do this, or if I have to give a portion to my nephew.
Please advise me on this matter. The truth is that I have no problem sharing or dividing the property with my nephew as long as it is in line with our laws.
We believe that you are entitled, on your own right, to inherit from your father as you are considered his compulsory heir (Art. 887, New Civil Code of the Philippines). We, however, cannot say the same with your nephew. First, he cannot inherit on his own right because, as you have mentioned in your letter, your father did not leave any last will and testament. Hence, there is no document that demonstrates a bequeathal in his favor.
Second, your nephew cannot inherit by right of representation. While, generally, illegitimate children whose filiations were acknowledged by their parents have the right to inherit, they are barred by law from inheriting from the legitimate relatives of their fathers or mothers. This is the so-called iron curtain rule, specifically provided under Article 992 of the New Civil Code: “An illegitimate child has no right to inherit ab intestato from the legitimate children and relatives of his father or mother; nor shall such children or relatives inherit in the same manner from the illegitimate child.” Considering that your nephew is an illegitimate child of your brother as he was born out of wedlock and that your brother passed away prior to the demise of your father, his illegitimate status prevents him from representing his father in the latter’s supposed inheritance from the herein decedent.
We emphasize the ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of Diaz vs. Intermediate Appellate Court (G.R. No. L-66574 February 21, 1990):
“x x x Articles 902, 989, and 990 clearly speak of successional rights of illegitimate children, which rights are transmitted to their descendants upon their death. x x x The three named provisions are very clear on this matter. The right of representation is not available to illegitimate descendants of legitimate children in the inheritance of a legitimate grandparent.
x x x
Article 992 of the New Civil Code provides a barrier or iron curtain in that it prohibits absolutely a succession ab intestato between the illegitimate child and the legitimate children and relatives of the father or mother of said illegitimate child. They may have a natural tie of blood, but this is not recognized by law for the purpose of Article 992. x x x (7 Manresa 110 cited in Grey v. Fable 40 OG (First S) No. 3, p. 196).
x x x
While the New Civil Code may have granted successional rights to illegitimate children, those articles, however, in conjunction with Article 992, prohibit the right of representation from being exercised where the person to be represented is a legitimate child. Needless to say, the determining factor is the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the person to be represented. If the person to be represented is an illegitimate child, then his descendants, whether legitimate or illegitimate, may represent him; however, if the person to be represented is legitimate, his illegitimate descendants cannot represent him because the law provides that only his legitimate descendants may exercise the right of representation by reason of the barrier imposed Article 992. x x x”
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