Does A Beneficiary Have To Share With Siblings | Their Inheritance
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Estate beneficiaries are not required by law to divide their inheritance with siblings or other family members, after the testator’s death. Hence, the basic answer to the query that “does a beneficiary have to share with siblings their inheritance” will be in the negative. Beneficiary is not obliged to do so. Nonetheless, they are free and voluntarily allowed to give all or portion of such inheritance to his or her siblings, in the form of voluntary conveyances.

This means that if a beneficiary obtains the full inheritance, he or she is legally entitled to retain it all without any obligation of having to transfer some of it to his or her siblings. Furthermore, parents are not required to divide their assets evenly among their offspring. If they desire, they can arrange for a sibling to get more assets, including retirement funds, than the others through estate planning, which is totally legal. It is allowed in testamentary succession.

It is crucial to remember, however, to recognize the legitime of the children in relation to their parent, as the former are compulsory heirs. Absent any last will and testament, the law shall intervene or proceed to divide the properties left by the deceased parent in accordance with the children’s intestate shares, which should not otherwise, undermine their respective legitimes.

Legitime is that part of the testator’s property which he cannot dispose of because the law has reserved it for certain heirs who are, therefore, called compulsory heirs. 1

To summarize, estate beneficiaries are not under any obligation to share their inheritances with siblings, but they may choose to do so for a variety of personal reasons. 

Are all siblings entitled to inheritance?

In general, a person can inherit from another individual in one of two ways. Either by the operation of law known as legal or intestate succession, or by the execution of a Will, which necessitates the observance of the formalities required by law. 

Another factor to examine is that if a person has mandatory or compulsory heirs. It bears stressing that child, parents, or spouses are compulsory heirs among and between each other, without prejudice to the rule of exclusion. The existence or absence of a child determines who should inherit first or more.

Siblings in relation to their Parents

Children in relation to their parents are compulsory heirs, whether, legitimate or illegitimate. If legitimate, they are entitled to the one-half portion of the net estate of each of their parents, after their deaths. Meaning, one-half of the net estate of the father shall go to the child or children, as legitimes; when the mother dies, one-half of the net estate of the mother shall go to the child or children, again, as legitimes.

If survived by only illegitimate child or children, with or without the surviving spouse, the biological parents [grandparents] of the deceased father or mother of the child or children, as the case may be shall also be given their respective legitimes, as compulsory heirs ascendants.

Legitimate Children

When legitimate child or children survive their parents, as mentioned, they are entitled to one-half of the net estate of their mother or father, respectively. Under the law, it states that:

“Article 888. 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.”2

See Table of Legitimes >> Article: Inheritance Law Philippines – Heirs & Distribution Explained | What Is Legal Or Intestate Succession?

This share or or right to this legitime shall also apply to legitimated and adopted child or children. Under the law, their are classed in the same manner as legitimate child or children.

On legitimated children, the law provides:

Art. 177.3 Children conceived and born outside of wedlock of parents who, at the time of conception of the former, were not disqualified by any impediment to marry each other, or were so disqualified only because either or both of them were below eighteen (18) years of age, may be legitimated.4

Art. 178. Legitimation shall take place by a subsequent valid marriage between parents. The annulment of a voidable marriage shall not affect the legitimation.5

Art. 179. Legitimated children shall enjoy the same rights as legitimate children.6

Art. 180. The effects of legitimation shall retroact to the time of the child’s birth.7

On adopted child or children, the current law, Republic Act [RA] No. 11642, provides in Section 43 thereof that:

Succession.8 – In legal and intestate succession, the adopters and the adoptee shall have reciprocal rights of succession without distinction from legitimate filiation. However, if the adoptees and their biological parents have left a will, the law on testamentary succession shall govern.9

Illegitimate Children

When an illegitimate child or children survive, together with legitimate ones, the former’s legitime shall be one-half of the share of a legitimate child or of each of the legitimate children. Under the current state of Family and Succession laws, there are no more distinctions as to the class of illegitimate children.

Before the advent of the Family Code, illegitimate children are classed differently. There are acknowledged natural child or children,10 those by legal fiction,11 and spurious illegitimate offspring.12 In applying succession laws then, they have different shares or legitimes in relation to legitimate children surviving with them.

Presently, under Republic Act No. 9225, which amended Article 17613 of the Family Code, it provides that:

“SECTION 1. Article 176 of Executive Order No. 209, otherwise known as the Family Code of the Philippines, is hereby amended to read as follows:14

“Article 176. Illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall be under the parental authority of their mother, and shall be entitled to support in conformity with this Code. However, illegitimate children may use the surname of their father if their filiation has been expressly recognized by the father through the record of birth appearing in the civil register, or when an admission in a public document or private handwritten instrument is made by the father. Provided, the father has the right to institute an action before the regular courts to prove non-filiation during his lifetime. The legitime of each illegitimate child shall consist of one-half of the legitime of a legitimate child.”15

See Table of Legitimes >> Article: Inheritance Law Philippines – Heirs & Distribution Explained | What Is Legal Or Intestate Succession?

Siblings in relation to Grandparents or Ascendants

As a general rule, grandson and granddaughters can only inherit from their grandparents through right of representation. In short, they will only represent in estate of each of their grandparents the share of their respective mothers or fathers because the latter either predeceased the decedent, are incapacitated to succeed the latter, or have repudiated their respective inheritance.

Nevertheless, if all the sons and daughters of the decedent (grandparents of the grandsons and granddaughters) mentioned above have repudiated their respective inheritance, then the siblings in relation to their grandparents can inherit in their own right, as being a compulsory heirs in the of the descendent-ascendant under the law, and also by analogy, following the order of succession.

Before, illegitimate child or children of grandparents’ sons or daughter cannot represent their putative legitimate father in the inheritance of their legitimate ascendants. Under the law, it provides that:

Article 992. 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.16

Yet, in the recent case (which has yet to be made public its full text as of this writing) decided by the Supreme Court, it has erased and obliterated such distinctions under the law with respect to the term “relatives”. Thus, illegitimate child or children can now represent their legitimate father or mother in the inheritance of the latter’s parents. Thus:

This case involves a woman who claims to be the nonmarital child of a man who died before she was born. After her alleged paternal grandfather died, she asserted her right to represent her deceased father—a marital child—in inheriting from her grandfather’s estate.17

However, in previous cases, the Court had interpreted Article 992 as barring nonmarital children from inheriting from their grandparents and other direct ascendants, as they are covered by the term “relatives.” The Supreme Court had called this prohibition the “iron curtain rule,” inferred from a perceived hostility between the marital and nonmarital sides of a family.18

Now, the Court reexamined the iron curtain rule, finding that Article 992 “should be construed to account for other circumstances of birth and family dynamics. Peace within families cannot be encouraged by callously depriving some of its members of their inheritance.  Such deprivation may even be the cause of antagonism and alienation that could have been otherwise avoided.”19

Consequently, in order to determine the hereditary allocation of the children relative to the estate of their grandparents, reference should be made to the shares of the latter’s sons or daughters who will be represented by their own children in the inheritance of their grandparents, as the case may be.

See Table of Legitimes >> Article: Inheritance Law Philippines – Heirs & Distribution Explained | What Is Legal Or Intestate Succession?

Siblings in relation to each other

As regards the siblings among themselves, they are not compulsory heirs of each other. They are merely legal heirs of one another. The mandatory nature of their succession will only happen in an intestate succession, when the sibling dies without a will. The others will succeed upon the former’s estate through legal or intestate succession.

If only the brothers or sisters are the eventual lone survivors of their sibling, the latter, during his lifetime, may opt to dispose all of his estate through testamentary succession in favor of third person, even without leaving something of value to his or her brothers and sisters. This will not violate the law on legitime since a brother or sister has none upon the estate left by his or her other sibling, after the latter’s death.

Under the law, it categorically states that:

Article 1004. Should the only survivors be brothers and sisters of the full blood, they shall inherit in equal shares.20

Article 1006. 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.21

Article 1007. 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.22

It must be noted that the disparity in shares among them will only happen if there are surviving half-blood brothers or sisters. Otherwise, they will inherit in equal portions. Similarly, if all of the surviving legal heirs are half-blood brothers or sisters or both, and the decedent is also their half-blood sibling, they shall inherit equally without distinctions.

Can a will be contested by a sibling?

A last will and testament may be contested, especially if the same has not been executed in accordance with the formalities of making a will. Hence, any interested heir, devisee, or legatee, be they compulsory or legal heirs, such as a brother or a sister, can contest the last will and testament under the aforesaid situation.

Formalities of making a will

We have two kinds of wills recognized under the Civil Code of the Philippines. These are Notarial Wills an Holographic Wills.

Notarial Will

These are the formalities for making a Notarial Will, to wit:

Article 804. Every will must be in writing and executed in a language or dialect known to the testator.23

Article 805. Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself or by the testator’s name written by some other person in his presence, and by his express direction, and attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another.24

The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will, shall also sign, as aforesaid, each and every page thereof, except the last, on the left margin, and all the pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page.25

The attestation shall state the number of pages used upon which the will is written, and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page thereof, or caused some other person to write his name, under his express direction, in the presence of the instrumental witnesses, and that the latter witnessed and signed the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another.26

If the attestation clause is in a language not known to the witnesses, it shall be interpreted to them.27

Article 806. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. The notary public shall not be required to retain a copy of the will, or file another with the office of the Clerk of Court.28

Article 807. If the testator be deaf, or a deaf-mute, he must personally read the will, if able to do so; otherwise, he shall designate two persons to read it and communicate to him, in some practicable manner, the contents thereof.29

Article 808. If the testator is blind, the will shall be read to him twice; once, by one of the subscribing witnesses, and again, by the notary public before whom the will is acknowledged.30

Article 809. In the absence of bad faith, forgery, or fraud, or undue and improper pressure and influence, defects and imperfections in the form of attestation or in the language used therein shall not render the will invalid if it is proved that the will was in fact executed and attested in substantial compliance with all the requirements of article 805.31

Holographic Will

On the other hand, in order to validly make or execute a holographic will, the following rule under the law must be observed, namely:

Article 810. A person may execute a holographic will which must be entirely written, dated, and signed by the hand of the testator himself. It is subject to no other form, and may be made in or out of the Philippines, and need not be witnessed.32

Article 812. In holographic wills, the dispositions of the testator written below his signature must be dated and signed by him in order to make them valid as testamentary dispositions.33

Article 813. When a number of dispositions appearing in a holographic will are signed without being dated, and the last disposition has a signature and a date, such date validates the dispositions preceding it, whatever be the time of prior dispositions.34

Article 814. In case of any insertion, cancellation, erasure or alteration in a holographic will, the testator must authenticate the same by his full signature.35

Non-compliance with the above formalities for making either or both Notarial and/or Holographic will open the testament into attack. A sibling, if he is affected by the invalid last will and testament, can assail and contest the same.

Thus, it may be regarded as an invalid instrument for not being executed in accordance with the above formalities. When the Will is declared invalid as such, it is as if the decedent/testator never could have executed a last will and testament. Ergo, intestacy will ensue.

Should inheritance be distributed equally between siblings?

When the hereditary estate comes from the parent, the children, who are siblings among themselves, may succeed to the inheritance equally, unless the testator himself, in testamentary succession, bequeaths or devises additional property not part of the legitime of the compulsory heirs. This must be categorically disposed of in the will.

During the lifetime of the decedent or the testator himself, for instance a brother or a sister who died, he or she can deprive his or her legal heirs, such as his or her siblings, if they are the only surviving ones, of any inheritance, whether express or implied.

It can be done expressly through a Will, when the testator expressly deprive his siblings of any share in his inheritance. Implied, when the decedent bequeaths, alienates, conveys, and sells all his property to third persons.

Therefore, there will be no distribution to the decedent’s siblings if all the properties are disposed of by will to any person, other than the brothers or sisters. They have no right of legitime with respect to the inheritance coming from their deceased brother, as their are not considered compulsory heirs to begin with.

Nevertheless, if the decedent brother dies without a Will and the only surviving heirs are his siblings, the properties the former left, who died intestate, shall be distributed through legal or intestate succession. In this case, the rule above with regard to the intestate shares of the brothers and sisters, whether full or half blood shall govern the distribution.

Final thoughts

Individuals can respond in a number of ways to the loss of someone close to them, and the death of a parent or loved one can be very traumatic. It’s unusual for one individual to feel a wide range of emotions in a single day, while another remains in shock and disbelief. Everyone will feel the way they do, and that is just fine. The important thing is that everyone respects and acknowledges that differences may occur.

Even if they were prepared, siblings may be uncomfortable with the burial method their parent has requested. Perhaps, others, too, have misgivings. But keep in mind that a parent gave a lot of consideration to how they’d depart the world, so it’s critical that their intentions must be honored and respected.

The last will and testament is frequently a subject of contention after the death of a parent or sibling. Keep in mind they most likely have thought of the same before they depart. Hence, one should be calm and composed when that situation happens. It may occur that one has received a larger portion; others, do not. That is the voluntariness of having control to dispose one’s estate and to take effect death.

There are frequent possibilities for disagreement, whether one brother or sister anticipates an item to be given to him or her instead of who it was passed down to, or no precise directives were left concerning the item and every sibling wants it. In this case, respect must be accorded to the wishes of the testator first, as the same is of paramount importance.

Whenever one is convinced that something is wrong, it is best to think before taking legal action. These kind of disagreements can last for years and have a negative impact on the entire family. If one does decide to go to court, keep in mind that animosity within the family may be inevitable.

In all these, we have to bear in mind that there are laws that will govern this apparent disagreements that will govern these scenarios. More importantly, the same laws may, likewise, provide yardstick or open the opportunity for settlement and amicable compromise.

  1. Article 886, Civil Code of the Philippines[]
  2. Article 888, Civil Code of the Philippines[]
  3. Formerly: Art. 177. Only children conceived and born outside of wedlock of parents who, at the time of the conception of the former, were not disqualified by any impediment to marry each other may be legitimated.[]
  4. Article 177, Family Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 9858[]
  5. Article 178, Id.[]
  6. Article 179, Family Code of the Philippines[]
  7. Article 180, Id.[]
  8. Formerly under RA 8552: Section 18. Succession. – In legal and intestate succession, the adopter(s) and the adoptee shall have reciprocal rights of succession without distinction from legitimate filiation. However, if the adoptee and his/her biological parent(s) had left a will, the law on testamentary succession shall govern.[]
  9. Section 43, RA 11642[]
  10. Those who are “conceived or born of marriages which are void from the beginning,” but because there has been a semblance of marriage, they are classified as “acknowledged natural children” [G. R. No. 105619 December 12, 1995][]
  11. Those “born outside of wedlock of parents who, at the time of the conception of the former, were not disqualified by any impediment to marry each other” [Ibid.][]
  12. Illegitimate children who are referred to as “spurious” or derisively denominated as “bastards” because of their doubtful origins. There is no marriage — valid or otherwise — which would give any semblance of legality to the child’s existence. Nothing links child to parent aside from the information appearing in the birth certificate. [Ibid.][]
  13. Former provision of the Family Code: Art. 176. Illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall be under the parental authority of their mother, and shall be entitled to support in conformity with this Code. The legitime of each illegitimate child shall consist of one-half of the legitime of a legitimate child. Except for this modification, all other provisions in the Civil Code governing successional rights shall remain in force.[]
  14. RA 9225[]
  15. Section 1, RA 9225[]
  16. Article 992, Civil Code of the Philippines[]
  17. SC Revisits ‘Iron Curtain Rule’ in Succession Law, Upholds Best Interest of the Child[]
  18. Ibid.[]
  19. Ibid.[]
  20. Article 1004, Civil Code of the Philippines[]
  21. Article 1006, Id.[]
  22. Article 1007, Id.[]
  23. Article 804, Civil Code of the Philippines[]
  24. Article 805, Id.[]
  25. Id.[]
  26. Id.[]
  27. Id.[]
  28. Article 806, Id.[]
  29. Article 807, Id.[]
  30. Article 808, Id.[]
  31. Article 809, Id.[]
  32. Article 810, Id.[]
  33. Article 812, Id.[]
  34. Article 813, Id.[]
  35. Article 814, Id.[]

RALB Law | RABR & Associates Law Firm

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