My husband and I got married in 1990, but we do not have any child. During our marriage, my husband inherited a piece of property from his parents. Now that he is dead, his brothers are claiming the inherited property. They say that I do not have a claim on it because it is a separate property of my husband. Is this true?
It is true that a property inherited by a spouse during marriage does not form part of the property regime of the spouses. This is true whether the spouses adopt community property or conjugal partnership regime because in either case, a property acquired by gratuitous title by a spouse is excluded in their property regime (Articles 92 and 109, Family Code). Hence, the property inherited by your late husband from his parents is his separate or exclusive property.
However, this does not mean that you do not have a claim on such property upon your husband’s death. Under the Civil Code, the widow or widower is a compulsory heir entitled to receive legitime or a portion of the estate reserved by law to compulsory heirs (Article 887). Thus, as the widow, you have the right to inherit a portion of the property left by your husband. This includes property he inherited from his parents. The law does not exclude or separate such property from the mass of the estate of a deceased person.
Coming now to partition or division of the estate among the heirs, you did not state that your husband left a will. Hence, we assume that there is none. If this is true, then the rules on intestate succession will apply, which states that:
“Should brothers and sisters or their children survive with the widow or widower, the latter shall be entitled to one-half of the inheritance and the brothers and sisters or their children to the other half” (Article 1001, Civil Code).
On the basis of the quoted article, you have a right to claim half of the property inherited by your husband. Your brothers-in-law are mistaken in their belief that you have no share in the said property. Should they maintain their stand and deny your right to the property, you may demand your share by filing a petition for settlement of the estate of your deceased husband in court.
We hope that the foregoing sufficiently answered your query. Please bear in mind that our opinion is based on facts you narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary should factual circumstances change.