My neighbor, Christian died last month. He had no known relatives, so I volunteered to oversee his burial including management of his properties composed of a rice land, house and lot and a machine shop. I had already asked his friends and employees about his family background but they were not able to give me the necessary information. They told me that Christian lived alone, was single and did not mention during his lifetime any relative. I had also made a public service announcement through the local radio, but no relative of his has appeared until now. What will happen now to these properties that he left?
The properties left by Christian may be escheated provided he left no will and has no heir. This is pursuant to Section 1 of Rule 91 of the 1997 Rules of Court, which states that:
“When a person dies intestate, seized of real or personal property in the Philippines, leaving no heir or person by law entitled to the same, the Solicitor General or his representative in behalf of the Republic of the Philippines, may file a petition in the Court of the First Instance of the province where the deceased last resided or in which he had estate, if he resided out of the Philippines, setting forth the facts, and praying that the estate of the deceased be declared escheated”.
Correlative thereto, Section 3 of same rule states that:
“Upon satisfactory proof in open court on the date fixed in the order that such order has been published as directed and that the person died intestate, seized of real or personal property in the Philippines, leaving no heir or person entitled to the same, and no sufficient cause being shown to the contrary, the court shall adjudge that the estate of the deceased in the Philippines, after payment of just debts and charges, shall escheat; and shall, pursuant to law, assign, the personal estate to the municipality or city where he last resided in the Philippines, and the real estate to the municipalities or cities respectively, in which the same is situated. If the deceased never resided in the Philippines, the whole estate may be assigned to the respective municipalities or cities where the same is situated. Such estate shall be for the benefit of public schools, and public charitable institutions and centers in said municipalities or cities.
“The court, at the instance of an interested party, or on its own motion, may order the establishment of a permanent trust, so that only the income from the property shall be used”.
Since you mentioned in your letter that Christian left real properties such as farm land, a house and lot and a machine shop, these properties, after payment of just debts and charges, shall be escheated in favor of the municipality or city where these properties are located for the benefit of public schools, charitable institutions and centers.
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