My husband died a few months ago. We have an only child who is an adopted son. My husband was not able to leave any last will before he died. Because of this, we are unsure how to divide and distribute the pieces of property left by my husband. And my main concern is that since my father-in-law is still alive, I want to know whether he has still a right to get a part of inheritance from what my husband left behind. I am confused because I learned that having a child should exclude the parents of the deceased from receiving a part of inheritance. But I was told by some friends that my adopted son cannot be a legal heir of my husband,because he was not legally adopted and is therefore not really our legal son.
Please advise me on what the law says about this, so I can know whether my father-in-law still has a right to inherit from my husband notwithstanding the fact that I have an adopted child. Thank you!
Basing on your narration, it appears that you want to know who has a better right between your father-in-law and your adopted son in claiming a share of the estate left by your husband who died without a will.
To answer this, we have to refer to what the Civil Code of the Philippines says on those who are considered as compulsory heirs of a decedent. According to the law, the following are legally entitled to a share of the estate left by a decedent:
“Article 887. The following are compulsory heirs:
(1) Legitimate children and descendants, with respect to their legitimate parents and ascendants;
(2) In default of the foregoing, legitimate parents and ascendants, with respect to their legitimate children and descendants;
(3) The widow or widower;
(4) Acknowledged natural children, and natural children by legal fiction;
(5) Other illegitimate children referred to in Article 287.
Xxx” (Article 887, Civil Code of the Philippines).
From this provision, we can see that in your situation, both you, as the widow, and your father-in-law, as the legitimate parent of the deceased, are considered to be the compulsory heirs of your husband.
Your adopted son is not included and cannot be considered as among the compulsory heirs. This is because absence of valid adoption results in absence of legal relationship between your husband and your adopted son. In other words, it is as if your husband died without a descendant because your son is not a legally adopted child and therefore is not legally your son. Thus, your father-in-law has a better right to claim a share of the estate of your husband since he is among the compulsory heirs specified by the law while your adopted son is not.
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.