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C. Legal or Intestate Succession

1. General provisions

a. CONCEPT

Legal or intestate succession takes place:

1) If a person dies without a will, or with a void will, or one which has subsequently lost its validity;

2) When the will does not institute an heir to, or dispose of all the property belonging to the testator. In such case, legal succession shall take place only with respect to the property of which the testator has not disposed;

3) If the suspensive condition attached to the institution of heir does not happen or is not fulfilled, or if the heir dies before the testator, or repudiates the inheritance, there being no substitution, and no right of accretion takes place;

4) When the heir instituted is incapable of succeeding, except in cases provided in this Code. (Article 960, Civil Code)

b. ASENCE OF TESTAMENTARY HEIRS

In default of testamentary heirs, the law vests the inheritance, in accordance with the rules hereinafter set forth, in the legitimate and illegitimate relatives of the deceased, in the surviving spouse, and in the State. (Article 961, Ibid.)

c. RULE ON EXCLUSION

In every inheritance, the relative nearest in degree excludes the more distant ones, saving the right of representation when it properly takes place.(Article 962, Ibid.)

Relatives in the same degree shall inherit in equal shares, subject to the provisions of article 1006 with respect to relatives of the full and half blood, and of Article 987, paragraph 2, concerning division between the paternal and maternal lines. (Paragraph 2, Article 962, Ibid.)

a. Relationship

1) In General

a) How proximity is determined

Proximity of relationship is determined by the number of generations. (Article 963, Ibid.)

b) Each generation a degree

Each generation forms a degree. (Article 963, Ibid.)

2) Line relationship

A series of degrees forms a line, which may be either direct or collateral. (Article 964, Ibid.)

In the line, as many degrees are counted as there are generations or persons, excluding the progenitor.(Article 966, Ibid.)

a) Direct line

A direct line is that constituted by the series of degrees among ascendants and descendants. (Paragraph 2, Article 964, Ibid.)

In the direct line, ascent is made to the common ancestor. Thus, the child is one degree removed from the parent, two from the grandfather, and three from the great-grandparent.(Paragraph 2, Article 966, Ibid.)

(1) Descending line

(2) Ascending line

The direct line is either descending or ascending. (Article 965, Ibid.)

The former unites the head of the family with those who descend from him. (Paragraph 2, Article 965, Ibid.)

The latter binds a person with those from whom he descends. (Paragraph 3, Article 965, Ibid.)

b) Collateral line

A collateral line is that constituted by the series of degrees among persons who are not ascendants and descendants, but who come from a common ancestor. (Paragraph 3, Article 964, Ibid.)

In the collateral line, ascent is made to the common ancestor and then descent is made to the person with whom the computation is to be made. Thus, a person is two degrees removed from his brother, three from his uncle, who is the brother of his father, four from his first cousin, and so forth. (Paragraph 3, Article 966, Ibid.)

3) Blood relationship

a) Full-blood relationship

Full blood relationship is that existing between persons who have the same father and the same mother. (Article 967, Ibid.)

b) Half-blood relationship

Half blood relationship is that existing between persons who have the same father, but not the same mother, or the same mother, but not the same father.(Ibid.)

4) Right of accrual of relatives of the same degree – except in right of representation

If there are several relatives of the same degree, and one or some of them are unwilling or incapacitated to succeed, his portion shall accrue to the others of the same degree, save the right of representation when it should take place. (Article 968, Ibid.)  

5) Repudiation, effects

If the inheritance should be repudiated by the nearest relative, should there be one only, or by all the nearest relatives called by law to succeed, should there be several, those of the following degree shall inherit in their own right and cannot represent the person or persons repudiating the inheritance. (Article 969, Ibid.)

b. Right of representation

1) Concept

Representation is a right created by fiction of law, by virtue of which the representative is raised to the place and the degree of the person represented, and acquires the rights which the latter would have if he were living or if he could have inherited. (Article 970, Ibid.)

2) By operation of law

The representative is called to the succession by the law and not by the person represented. The representative does not succeed the person represented but the one whom the person represented would have succeeded. (Article 971, Ibid.)

3) The Representative

a) Who the representative succeeds

The representative does not succeed the person represented but the one whom the person represented would have succeeded. (Article 971, Ibid.)

b) Legal capacity, required

In order that representation may take place, it is necessary that the representative himself be capable of succeeding the decedent. (Article 973, Ibid.)

4) Right of representation

a) Only in the direct descending line

The right of representation takes place in the direct descending line, but never in the ascending. (Article 972, Ibid.)

b) Only the children of siblings in case of collateral line

In the collateral line, it takes place only in favor of the children of brothers or sisters, whether they be of the full or half blood. (Paragraph 2, Article 972, Ibid.)

5) Per stirpes division

Whenever there is succession by representation, the division of the estate shall be made per stirpes, in such manner that the representative or representatives shall not inherit more than what the person they represent would inherit, if he were living or could inherit. (Article 974, Ibid.)

6) Children of siblings

a) If with uncles or aunts

But if they alone survive, they shall inherit in equal portions. (Article 975, Ibid.)  

b) If alone

When children of one or more brothers or sisters of the deceased survive, they shall inherit from the latter by representation, if they survive with their uncles or aunts.(Article 975, Ibid.)

7) Representative

a) Representative who renounced inheritance of person he represents

A person may represent him whose inheritance he has renounced. (Article 976, Ibid.)  

b) Repudiating heirs, no representation

Heirs who repudiate their share may not be represented. (Article 977, Ibid.)

2. Order of intestate succession

a. DESCENDING DIRECT LINE

1) Priority to descending direct line

Succession pertains, in the first place, to the descending direct line.(Article 978, Ibid.)

2) Legitimate children and their descendants, adopted children

Legitimate children and their descendants succeed the parents and other ascendants, without distsinction as to sex or age, and even if they should come from different marriages. (Article 979, Ibid.)

An adopted child succeeds to the property of the adopting parents in the same manner as a legitimate child.(Paragraph 2, Article 979, Ibid.)

3) In their own right

The children of the deceased shall always inherit from him in their own right, dividing the inheritance in equal shares. (Article 980, Ibid.)

4) Combination: in their own right + right of succession

Should children of the deceased and descendants of other children who are dead, survive, the former shall inherit in their own right, and the latter by right of representation. (Article 981, Ibid.)

The grandchildren and other descendants shall inherit by right of representation, and if any one of them should have died, leaving several heirs, the portion pertaining to him shall be divided among the latter in equal portions. (Article 982, Ibid.)

5) Death of adopted child without children / descendants

In case of the death of an adopted child, leaving no children or descendants, his parents and relatives by consanguinity and not by adoption, shall be his legal heirs. (Article 984, Ibid.)

6) If with illegitimate children

If illegitimate children survive with legitimate children, the shares of the former shall be in the proportions prescribed by Article 895. (Article 983, Ibid.)

b. ASCENDING DIRECT LINE

1)  Parents

In default of legitimate children and descendants of the deceased, his parents and ascendants shall inherit from him, to the exclusion of collateral relatives. (Article 985, Ibid.)

a) Equal shares – with exception

The father and mother, if living, shall inherit in equal shares.(Article 986, Ibid.)

Should one only of them survive, he or she shall succeed to the entire estate of the child. (Paragraph 2, Article 986, Ibid.)

2) In default of parents

a) Ascendants nearest in degree

In default of the father and mother, the ascendants nearest in degree shall inherit. (Article 987, Ibid.)

3) Division

a) More than one of equal degree in same line

Should there be more than one of equal degree belonging to the same line they shall divide the inheritance per capita. (Paragraph 2, Article 987, Ibid.)

b) Equal degree, but different line

Should they be of different lines but of equal degree, one-half shall go to the paternal and the other half to the maternal ascendants. (Paragraph 2, Article 987, Ibid.)

c) Each line

In each line the division shall be made per capita. (Paragraph 2, Article 987, Ibid.)

c. ILLEGITIMATE CHILDREN

1) As an heir

a) If with legitimate ascendants

If legitimate ascendants are left, the illegitimate children shall divide the inheritance with them, taking one-half of the estate, whatever be the number of the ascendants or of the illegitimate children. (Article 991, Ibid.)

b) If no legitimate descendants / ascendants

In the absence of legitimate descendants or ascendants, the illegitimate children shall succeed to the entire estate of the deceased. (Article 988, Ibid.)

(1) Transmissible to descendants

The hereditary rights granted by the two preceding articles to illegitimate children shall be transmitted upon their death to their descendants, who shall inherit by right of representation from their deceased grandparent. (Article 990, Ibid.)

c) If with ascendants of another deceased illegitimate child

If, together with illegitimate children, there should survive descendants of another illegitimate child who is dead, the former shall succeed in their own right and the latter by right of representation. (Article 989, Ibid.)

2) Transmissible to descendants

The hereditary rights granted by the two preceding articles to illegitimate children shall be transmitted upon their death to their descendants, who shall inherit by right of representation from their deceased grandparent. (Article 990, Ibid.)

3) As decedent

a) Parent/s

If an illegitimate child should die without issue, either legitimate or illegitimate, his father or mother shall succeed to his entire estate; and if the child’s filiation is duly proved as to both parents, who are both living, they shall inherit from him share and share alike. (Article 993, Ibid.)

b) Surviving spouse

In default of the father or mother, an illegitimate child shall be succeeded by his or her surviving spouse who shall be entitled to the entire estate. (Article 994, Ibid.)

c) Surviving spouse + siblings, nephews and nieces

If the widow or widower should survive with brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, she or he shall inherit one-half of the estate, and the latter the other half. (Paragraph 2, Article 994, Ibid.)

4) No inheriting from legitimate children or relatives, and vice-versa

An illegitimate child has no right to inherit ab intestato from the legitimate children and relatives of his father or mother; nor shall such children or relatives inherit in the same manner from the illegitimate child. (Article 992, Ibid.)

d. SURVIVING SPOUSE

1) As an heir 

a) Surviving spouse, as sole heir

b) Surviving spouse + legitimate children/descendants

If a widow or widower and legitimate children or descendants are left, the surviving spouse has in the succession the same share as that of each of the children. (Article 996, Ibid.)

c) Surviving spouse + illegitimate children

If a widow or widower survives with illegitimate children, such widow or widower shall be entitled to one-half of the inheritance, and the illegitimate children or their descendants, whether legitimate or illegitimate, to the other half. (Article 998, Ibid.)

d) Surviving spouse + legitimate children/descendants + illegitimate children/descendants

When the widow or widower survives with legitimate children or their descendants and illegitimate children or their descendants, whether legitimate or illegitimate, such widow or widower shall be entitled to the same share as that of a legitimate child. (Article 999, Ibid.)

e) Surviving spouse + legitimate parents/ascendants

When the widow or widower survives with legitimate parents or ascendants, the surviving spouse shall be entitled to one-half of the estate, and the legitimate parents or ascendants to the other half. (Article 997, Ibid.)

f) Surviving spouse + legitimate ascendants + illegitimate children

If legitimate ascendants, the surviving spouse, and illegitimate children are left, the ascendants shall be entitled to one-half of the inheritance, and the other half shall be divided between the surviving spouse and the illegitimate children so that such widow or widower shall have one-fourth of the estate, and the illegitimate children the other fourth. (Article 1000, Ibid.)

g) Surviving spouse + siblings

In the absence of legitimate descendants and ascendants, and illegitimate children and their descendants, whether legitimate or illegitimate, the surviving spouse shall inherit the entire estate, without prejudice to the rights of brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, should there be any, under article 1001. (Article 995, Ibid.)

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, Ibid.)

2) In case of legal separation

In case of a legal separation, if the surviving spouse gave cause for the separation, he or she shall not have any of the rights granted in the preceding articles. (Article 1002, Ibid.)

e. COLLATERAL RELATIVES

1) As an heir

a) Collateral relatives, as sole heir/s

If there are no descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, or a surviving spouse, the collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the deceased in accordance with the following articles. (Article 1003, Ibid.)

b) Siblings full blood

Should the only survivors be brothers and sisters of the full blood, they shall inherit in equal shares. (Article 1004, Ibid.)

c) Siblings full blood + nephews and nieces (of other siblings full blood)

Should brothers and sisters survive together with nephews and nieces, who are the children of the descendant’s brothers and sisters of the full blood, the former shall inherit per capita, and the latter per stirpes. (Article 1005, Ibid.)

d) Siblings full blood + siblings half blood

Should brother and sisters of the full blood survive together with brothers and sisters of the half blood, the former shall be entitled to a share double that of the latter. (Article 1006, Ibid.)

e) Siblings half blood

In case brothers and sisters of the half blood, some on the father’s and some on the mother’s side, are the only survivors, all shall inherit in equal shares without distinction as to the origin of the property.(Article 1007, Ibid.)

f) Children of siblings half blood

Children of brothers and sisters of the half blood shall succeed per capita or per stirpes, in accordance with the rules laid down for the brothers and sisters of the full blood. (Article 1008, Ibid.)

g) In default of siblings, other collateral relatives

Should there be neither brothers nor sisters nor children of brothers or sisters, the other collateral relatives shall succeed to the estate. (Article 1009, Ibid.)

The latter shall succeed without distinction of lines or preference among them by reason of relationship by the whole blood.(Paragraph 2, Article 1009, Ibid.)

2) Limitation: up to 5th degree of relationship

The right to inherit ab intestato shall not extend beyond the fifth degree of relationship in the collateral line. (Article 1010, Ibid.)

f. STATE

1) As an heir

a) Last default heir

In default of persons entitled to succeed in accordance with the provisions of the preceding Sections, the State shall inherit the whole estate. (Article 1011, Ibid.)

(1) Personal property

(2) Real property

After the payment of debts and charges, the personal property shall be assigned to the municipality or city where the deceased last resided in the Philippines, and the real estate to the municipalities or cities, respectively, in which the same is situated. (Article 1013, Ibid.)

(3) If decedent not a resident of PH

If the deceased never resided in the Philippines, the whole estate shall be assigned to the respective municipalities or cities where the same is located. (Paragraph 2, Article 1013, Ibid.)

Such estate shall be for the benefit of public schools, and public charitable institutions and centers, in such municipalities or cities. The court shall distribute the estate as the respective needs of each beneficiary may warrant. (Paragraph 3, Article 1013, Ibid.)

2) Heirs action to recover: The 5-year prescription

If a person legally entitled to the estate of the deceased appears and files a claim thereto with the court within five years from the date the property was delivered to the State, such person shall be entitled to the possession of the same, or if sold the municipality or city shall be accountable to him for such part of the proceeds as may not have been lawfully spent. (Article 1014, Ibid.)

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