Share of legitimate children in the estate of a parent

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I have a problem concerning the properties left by my father. My parents are married and I am their only child. However, during their marriage, my father had a mistress who bore him 6 children and we could not agree how the properties should be divided. Someone told me that under the law, I will get double portion compared to my siblings. Is this true?
Gino

Dear Gino,
You did not mention that your father left a last will and testament. Hence, we assume that there is none. If this is true, then the rules on intestacy will apply in the settlement of estate of your father.

Under the rules of intestacy, if illegitimate children survive with legitimate children, the share of an illegitimate child shall consist of one-half of the share of a legitimate child (Article 983, Civil Code in relation to Article 176, Family Code). This article prescribes a 2:1 proportion in favour of a legitimate child, such that his share will be twice as much as the share of one of his illegitimate brothers or sisters. The person who told you that you will get double portion may be referring to this article.

In most cases, this rule works. However, there are other provisions found in our Civil Code, which could affect the share of an heir. Hence, this rule should be read together with other relevant provisions of law, such as the rules on legitime. Legitime refers to that part of the testator’s property which the law has reserved for certain heirs called compulsory heirs (Article 886, Civil Code). As it is reserved by the law, a compulsory heir is entitled to receive his legitime. It may not be denied to him unless he is disinherited by the decedent in accordance with law. The effect of the rule on legitime is to prioritize certain heirs and satisfy their shares first before the shares of other heirs are determined. The rule pertinent to your case states that:


“The legitime of legitimate children and descendants consists of one-half of the hereditary estate of the father and of the mother.

The latter may freely dispose of the remaining half, subject to the rights of illegitimate children and of the surviving spouse as hereinafter provided” (Article 888, Civil Code).

Under the above quoted provision of law, legitimate children are entitled to receive one-half of the estate of their deceased parents as their legitime. Moreover, the legitimate children are given priority right over other compulsory heirs, like illegitimate children, as the latter’s share may only be taken from the remaining half of the estate after the legitime of legitimate children are satisfied.

Reading together the aforementioned relevant rules on intestacy and legitime, it is clear that as the only legitimate child, you are entitled to receive half of the estate of your father. The remaining half would then be divided among your siblings, who are presumed to be illegitimate, considering that they are born out of wedlock.

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.

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