My only son recently died and I am having a hard time taking care of the properties he left since he had no last will. He was married to a woman who left him years ago. While they were not able to have their own children, they were able to informally adopt a child during their time together. Because of this, I am wondering if I can have a legal share in the properties left by my son considering that he had a wife and an adopted child. Please also advise me on what should I do assuming I can claim a share in my son’s properties.
You are still entitled to a share in the estate left by your son notwithstanding the fact that your son was married and was able to adopt a child. Your right to receive a part of the estate of your son is based on a provision in the Civil Code of the Philippines which enumerates the compulsory heirs to whom the law reserves for a part of a decedent’s properties, to wit:
“Article 887. The following are compulsory heirs: Legitimate children and descendants, with respect to their legitimate parents and ascendants; In default of the foregoing, legitimate parents and ascendants, with respect to their legitimate children and descendants; The widow or widower; Xxx” Emphasis supplied (Civil Code of the Philippines).
It is important to note from this cited provision that while your son’s widow is among the compulsory heirs, legitimate parents become compulsory heirs only in the absence of legitimate children and descendants of the decedent. This means that parents are considered compulsory heirs of their child if the latter had no child of his own.
Because of this, it is important to distinguish whether your son’s adopted child can qualify as his descendant since this will determine the existence of your right as a compulsory heir of your son.
Considering that you mentioned that your son and his wife “informally adopted” a child, it can be inferred that the child’s adoption was not legal as it was not formally processed in accordance with adoption laws.
This want of a valid adoption between the deceased and the child entailed an absence of a legal relationship between them and therefore your son’s adopted child has no right to be included as a compulsory heir. Consequently, it is as if your son died without descendants. As a result, you will inherit from your deceased son as his compulsory heir because the latter died without descendants.
With regard to the enforcement of your right as a compulsory heir to inherit from your son, it is necessary that you file a petition for Settlement of Estate of Deceased Persons under Rule 73 of the Revised Rules of Court which provides that:
“Section 1. Where estate of deceased persons settled. — If the decedent is an inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an alien, his will shall be proved, or letters of administration granted, and his estate settled, in the Court of First Instance in the province in which he resides at the time of his death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the Court of First Instance of any province in which he had estate. The court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. The jurisdiction assumed by a court, so far as it depends on the place of residence of the decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not be contested in a suit or proceeding, except in an appeal from that court, in the original case, or when the want of jurisdiction appears on the record.” (Emphasis supplied)
By doing so, the Court shall settle and divide the estate of your son amongst the compulsory heirs, including yourself, in accordance with the law.
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 email@example.com