Are brothers and sisters compulsory heirs of each other? We shall discuss the same in this post. In general, succession can be interpreted in one of two ways. In its broadest legal sense, it denotes a person’s substitution or subrogation in the transmissible rights and obligations of another. This term includes not just succession after a person’s death, but also succession throughout his or her existence.
In its precise juridical sense, it connotes a person’s substitution or subrogation in the property, transmissible rights, and labilities of a deceased person. Thus, this term restricts succession following the death of an individual.
What is succession in its strict legal sense?
In its accurate meaning, under the Civil Code of the Philippines, it defines succession as:
“x x x x . . . . a mode of acquisition by virtue of which the property, rights and obligations to the extent of the value of the inheritance, of a person are transmitted through his death to another or others either by his will or by operation of law.1
What is inheritance?
The objective element of succession is inheritance. The latter includes all the property, rights, and obligations of an individual which are not extinguished by his death.2 Similarly, inheritance may be defined as the universality of all the assets, rights, and indebtedness constituting the patrimony of the decedent which survived his death.3 Inheritance is also classified as the entirety of the patrimonial properties and relations which constitute the objective elements of succession.4
What is the difference between succession and inheritance?
It is obvious that the terms “inheritance” and “succession,” as used in the Philippine Civil Code, refer to two distinct but related concept. The first is the universality of all the decedent’s property, rights, and obligations, which, as was previously established, are not extinguished by his death. The second, on the other hand, is the legal means of passing such property, rights, and obligations. In other words, the first is the second’s objective element.
Are brothers and sisters compulsory heirs?
They are not. It must be emphasized, at the outset, that brothers and sisters are not compulsory heirs of each other. They are only legal heirs to one another. They are collateral relatives. Since they are not compulsory heirs, they have no legitime in relation to their successional rights between each other or among themselves.
Brothers and sisters can also inherit as voluntary heirs. Meaning, if one of the siblings dies with a will and the only survivors are his brothers and sisters, the latter ,when instituted as heirs in the will, can inherit as voluntary heirs of the deceased.
Do brothers and sisters inherit from each other?
The answer is in the affirmative. They are legal heirs of each other. On the assumption that the deceased is one of the siblings and there is no last will and testament, should the only survivors be brothers and sisters of the full blood, they shall inherit in equal shares. The same rule shall, likewise, apply should the only survivors be brothers and sisters of the half blood.
Who are compulsory heirs?
Under the Philippine Law on Succession, the compulsory heirs are as follows, namely:
- Child or children, whether legitimate or not;
- Direct descendants, whether marital or non-marital;
- Parents and other direct ascendants,5 if the deceased has no child or children;6
- Surviving spouse.
Compulsory heirs have legitime from the decedent. They cannot be excluded from inheritance, with respect to their legitime. Unless, they have been successfully disinherited in accordance with law or legally incapacitated to inherit under the grounds provided for by law.
How to divide inherited property between siblings?
If the deceased brother or sister has left a last will and testament and the only survivors are the decedent’s brothers and sisters, obviously, the provision in the will relating to the latter’s institution as heirs, legatee, or devisee shall prevail, regardless of how unequal the shares may be.
Conversely, if the decedent without a last will and testament, the surviving siblings (assuming they are the only survivors) shall inherit through intestate succession. Should the only survivors be brothers and sisters of the full blood, they shall inherit in equal shares.7
Full Blood and Half Blood Siblings
Distinction, however, should be made when the decedent brother or sister is survived by both full blood and half blood siblings. Full blood brothers and/or sisters are those with the same father and mother. Half blood siblings are those with the same mother but different father or vice versa.
In case the deceased brother is survived by both full blood and half blood siblings only, their respective inheritance share shall be in the proportion of two is to one [2:1]. Two for the full blood and one for the half blood. Thus:
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.8
To illustrate, if the the net estate of the deceased is P60,000.00 and he is survived only by his full blood sister and half blood brother, the share of the former shall be P40,000.00 while the latter will only be P20,000.00.
Are brothers and sisters collateral relatives?
All the decedent’s heirs under the law who are not related to him or her in the direct line of succession are referred to as collateral relatives, or simply collaterals. Thus, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, and cousins are collaterals. Siblings of the decedent brother or sister are not relatives in the direct line. They are heirs in the collateral line of succession.
As distinguished from collateral relatives, direct line of succession in the descending order includes children, grand children, great grand children and so on. Whereas in the direct ascending line, it consists of the parents, grand parents, great grand parents, and so on.
Who are collateral relatives?
Besides the brothers or sisters, collateral relatives who can inherit are the uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, and other collateral relatives within the fifth degree of consanguinity from the deceased. Under the Civil Code of the Philippines, it provides that:
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.9
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.10
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.11
Children of brothers and sisters of the half blood shall succeed per capita or per stirpes, in accordance with the rules laid down for brothers and sisters of the full blood.12
Consequently, collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate in the absence of legitimate descendants, legitimate ascendants, illegitimate children, and the surviving spouse.13
When there are legitimate descendants, legitimate ascendants, or illegitimate children, such collateral relatives do not participate in the inheritance; they excluded altogether from the succession.14
When they concur with the surviving spouse only, they are also excluded as a general rule. There is, however, as exception, and that is when brothers and sisters or nephews and nieces concur15 in the succession.16
If there are no other collateral relatives, within the fifth (5) degree of consanguinity from the decedent to succeed the inheritance, it the State that shall be considered as the last legal heir.
Whether or not a deceased left behind a will, brothers and sisters are not compulsory heirs merely because the deceased had them. In brief, brothers and sisters of the deceased shall have no share in the compulsory succession, with respect to legitime.
They are legal heirs, nevertheless, in case there is intestate succession. Hence, the law has given them their freedom to dispose of such inheritance in accordance with their respective autonomy because brothers and sisters are not compulsory heirs of each other.
The prevalent belief, for laymen, that brothers and sisters are mandatory heirs during the administration of intestate estates may have been a misunderstanding, as the Philippine Succession Law makes no mention of it.
If they are the only survivors, brothers and sisters can inherit from their sibling, obviously, but not as compulsory heirs, instead, through intestate succession, if they are not excluded. They can also inherit as voluntary heirs, legatee, or devisee, when instituted as such by their deceased sibling in the latter’s will.
- Article 774, Civil Code of the Philippines
- Jurado, Comments and Cases on Succession, 2009 edition, p. 4
- 5 Manresa, 6th Ed., p.321
- 4 Castan, 6th Ed., p. 155
- Other rule applies if the parents are illegitimate
- Otherwise, parents and other ascendants are excluded
- Article 1004, Civil Code of the Philippines
- Article 1006, Civil Code of the Philippines
- Article 1003, Civil Code of the Philippines
- Article 1005, Id.
- Article 1007, Id.
- Article 1008, Id.
- Jurado, Comments and Cases on Succession, 2009 edition, p. 445
- Article 1001. 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. [Civil Code of the Philippines]
- Jurado, Comments and Cases on Succession, 2009 edition, p. 445