• Legit kids from 1st, 2nd families entitled to late dad’s estate

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    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    My question is about the division of the pieces of property that my late father left us. We are at a loss because he had two families. My father had children from his first legal wife. When his first wife died, he married my mother, and I was born later on. Will there be a different sharing between my half siblings and me? How should we divide his assets? We need your advice. Thank you.
    Leah

    Dear Leah,
    As to the proportional share of each child, there will be no different treatment between children from the first family and the children from the second family as long as they are all legitimate. The law on succession clearly states that legitimate children succeed the parents without distinction as to sex or age, and even if they should come from different marriages (Art. 979, Civil Code). Thus, the legitimate children from the first family and those from the second family are entitled to receive the same proportional share from the estate left by the deceased.

    Notice that we qualified our statement on equal sharing between children from different families with the phrase “as long as they are all legitimate.” This is important because the law as it stands accords a different treatment between legitimate and illegitimate children with respect to succession. Under the law, the legitime of each illegitimate child is only one-half of the legitime of a legitimate child (Art. 176, Family Code).

    Based on your narration, it would appear that you and your siblings are all legitimate. Your half siblings are legitimate as you mentioned that they are the children of your father with his first legal wife. On the other hand, you are also legitimate because you were born inside the wedlock of your mother and father, who was already a widower at the time of his second marriage.

    As to how the estate of your father will be divided, the law states that “the children of the deceased shall always inherit from him in their own right, dividing the inheritance in equal shares,” and that “the surviving spouse has… the same share as that of each of the children” (Arts. 980 & 996, Id). Reading these two provisions of law together, this means that each legitimate child and the spouse shall receive the same proportional share.

    Being entitled to receive the same proportional share, however, does not mean that all of the pieces of property would simply be divided equally among all the heirs. As with other cases of succession, there is still a need to determine if a certain property is an exclusive or common property of the spouses. If a property is considered exclusive, its whole value is included in the estate, but if the property is considered community or conjugal, then only half of its value is included in the estate as the other half pertains to the share of the surviving spouse. This process becomes especially important in case the deceased has contracted a subsequent valid marriage as Article 92 (3) of the Family Code excludes pieces of property acquired by a person prior to his second marriage and which shall remain exclusive property, and not brought into the community property. The article states that pieces of property acquired before the marriage by a spouse who has legitimate descendants by a former marriage, including their fruits and income are excluded from the community property.

    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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