Nearer relatives exclude the farther in claim to property

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Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I am an illegitimate daughter of my mother who died in a vehicular accident in 2009. My mother is the only child of my grandparents who died in 2008. My grandmother has no known relatives while my grandfather has a brother who is already dead. The latter’s son, Nestor is now claiming all the property left by my grandparents. Nestor said he is entitled to the property because he is a legitimate relative of my grandfather, unlike me who is a “bastard.” Do I have any right to the property left by my grandparents?                
Ann Marie

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Dear Ann Marie,
It appears that your late mother is the lone compulsory heir of your grandparents. In that case, you can represent her with respect to her legitime. You are a nearer relative as compared to Nestor who is a nephew of your late grandfather.

In the case of the Heirs of Pascasio Uriarte vs. Court of Appeals and Benedicto Estrada (G.R. No. 116775 January 22, 1998), former Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza enumerated the provisions of law that are also applicable in this instant case:

“According to Article 962 of the Civil Code, in every inheritance, the relative nearest in degree excludes the more distant ones, saving the right of representation when it properly takes place.

Relatives in the same degree shall inherit in equal shares, subject to the provisions of Article 1006 with respect to relatives of the full and half blood, and of Article 987, paragraph 2, concerning division between paternal and maternal lines.

The manner of determining the proximity of relationship is provided by Articles 963-966 of the Civil Code. They provide:

Art. 963. Proximity of relationship is determined by the number of generations. Each generation forms a degree.

Art. 964. A series of degrees forms a line, which may be either direct or collateral.

A direct line is that constituted by the series of degrees among ascendants and descendants.

A collateral line is that constituted by the series of degrees among persons who are not ascendants and descendants but who come from a common ancestor.

Art. 965. The direct line is either descending or ascending.

The former unites the head of the family with those who descend from him.

The latter binds a person with those from whom he descends.

Art. 966. In the line, as many degrees are counted as there are generations or persons, excluding the progenitor.

In the direct line, ascent is made to the common ancestor. Thus the child is one degree removed from the parent, two from the grandfather, and three from the great-grandparent.

In the collateral line, ascent is made to the common ancestor and then descent is made to the person with whom the computation is to be made. Thus, a person is two degrees removed from his brother, three from his uncle, who is the brother of his father, four from his first cousin, and so forth.”

Applying these provisions of law in your situation, it is clear that you have a better right to claim the property left by your grandparents, because you are a nearer relative than Nestor. The nearer relative excludes the farther. Nestor’s claim that he is a legitimate relative; hence, saying he is entitled to the property has no legal basis.

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 dear pao

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