There are a lot of questions about illegitimate children and their inheritance rights. Are they actually entitled to receive anything? Wouldn't that be detrimental to the legitimate family? If they would receive anything how much would that be ? Is it the same as legitimate children and surviving spouses? Let's find out in today's article.
Who are Illegitimate children
Let's get everyone up to speed and define what is an illegitimate child or “anak sa labas.” An illegitimate child is defined as a person who was conceived and born outside of a legitimate marriage defined under the Family code. In other words, it’s a child who was born when their parents were not married to each other.
Illegitimate Children are Protected By the Law
Next, let’s see what the law says about illegitimate children. This is where most of the misconceptions arise (“Anak ka lang sa labas, wala kang mana!”).
Let’s settle this once and for all --- yes, the law includes illegitimate children. They are explicitly included by the Civil Code under Article 887 as a compulsory heir:
Art. 887. The following are compulsory heirs: (5) Other illegitimate children referred to in Article 287.
Being compulsory, that means that the law requires them to be included when dividing the estate for inheritance (see The VIP’s of Estate Law for a discussion on compulsory heirs).
I’m guessing that the reasoning behind this is even though they don’t necessarily come from a legitimate union, they are still entitled to protection because it was not their fault that they were brought into the world this way.
So if you’re an illegitimate child, don’t believe people when they say that you won’t get anything. That is inaccurate. The law itself says that you’re included so everybody has to follow that regardless of what they think.
What are illegitimate children entitled to receive?
Now that we’re clear that illegitimate children can inherit, the next question is how much? The Civil Code says:
Art. 895. The legitime of each of the acknowledged natural children and each of the natural children by legal fiction shall consist of one-half of the legitime of each of the legitimate children or descendants.
As a general rule, illegitimate children are entitled to receive one-half of what a legitimate child would be entitled to. I say general because the “one-half of a legitimate child’s share” ratio serves as a starting point when lawyers compute for the shares. They can be subject to deductions in certain cases (such as when there isn’t enough from the free portion, etc.). But when we create estate distribution plans, this is where we start off. This would be a good reference point for you as well.
Getting the proportions right can be a bit confusing because they involve multiple technical rules being applied at the same time. We would highly recommend consulting a lawyer so you can get a legal opinion that’s specifically tailored for your situation.
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