What are the steps to inherit in the Philippines?
WHAT ARE THE STEPS TO INHERIT IN THE PHILIPPINES?
1) SECURE THE DEATH CERTIFICATE.
The registration of deaths in the Philippines is governed by law (P.D. 651 as amended by P.D. 766) .
If the decedent died in a hospital, the attending physician or administrator of the hospital certifies as to the fact of death. If the decedent died outside of a hospital, the nearest of kin can report the death to the Local Civil Registrar where the deceased habitually resided.
The death of a foreigner must be reported to the Local Civil Registrar where he habitually resided or to the Civil Registrar of the City of Manila if he died while in transit in the Philippines or without a habitual residence.
Generally, the fact of death must be reported within forty-eight hours and registered by the Civil Registrar within 30 days from the date of death.
2) DETERMINE IF THE DECEASED LEFT A WILL.
Unlike other countries, there is no central or official registration of wills in the Philippines. A copy of a will can be obtained from the Office of the Clerk of Court which holds the copies of the documents notarized by a notary within a particular locality. The problem with this is that the will could have been signed , attested to, and notarized in another place. It would be highly impractical to search all the offices of Clerks of Court in the Philippines to determine the existence of a will.
If there is a will, it must be probated or proved by filing a Petition with the Regional Trial Court where the deceased was residing at the time of his death or if he was a resident of a foreign country in the place where he had properties.
If there is no will, two things can happen: a) Filing of a Petition for Settlement of the Intestate Estate which will result in the appointment by the court of an administrator for the estate of the decease, who is usually the nearest of kin; OR b) Extrajudicial Settlement of the Estate of Deceased if there are no debts and the heirs can agree among themselves with respect to the partition of the estate.
A. JUDICIAL REMEDIES : PROBATE OF THE WILL OR FILING A PETITION FOR THE SETTLEMENT OF THE INTESTATE ESTATE.
These two judicial remedies have similar steps, except that the Probate of the Will ( which is actually initiated as a Petition for Letters Testamentary) includes proving the genuineness and authenticity of the will. In the Philippines, most wills are known as notarial wills which require legal formalities as to the signing and execution which are the matters to be determined in the initial stages when there is a will.
1) CHOOSE AN ATTORNEY TO FILE THE PETITION.
Estates that reach the courts are generally complicated in terms of the number of the properties, the nature thereof, and the competing interests of the heirs. It could involve parcels of land in different parts of the Philippines which have themselves been inherited in some form or another by the deceased from his or her ancestors. Often these remain undivided with compounded real property taxes and regulatory fees. For these reasons, it would be prudent to get an experienced attorney to handle the estate proceedings.
2) FILING OF THE PETITION.
The Petition must be filed with the Regional Trial Court where the deceased was residing at the time of his death or where he had properties if a resident of a foreign country. What becomes a significant issue at this point is the money necessary to file the Petition since the filing fee is based on the assessed value of the estate.
3) NOTIFYING ALL KNOWN HEIRS AND CREDITORS.
The heirs and the creditors of the deceased are normally identified in the Petition and are required to be notified of the initial hearing in the case . The hearing will also be published in a newspaper of general publication for 3 consecutive weeks prior to the date of the hearing.
4) JURISDICTIONAL HEARING.
This is the initial scheduled hearing of the case where the matters of notification of the known heirs and creditors and the publication of the notice as required by law are put into the record of the case.
The significance of this step is that it establishes the nature of the proceedings as IN REM or theoretically binding on the whole world.
5) INVENTORY OF THE ESTATE.
The administrator will initially make an inventory of the estate and make a report to the court. Properties could be held by third parties who can be required to appear and disclose the extent of the properties held on behalf of the deceased. Representatives of banks and financial institutions can be questioned on related matters as to investments and stockholdings of the deceased.
In many instances, the estate could include untitled or unclaimed properties which have to be investigated further , involving professional investigators, titling agencies, and geodetic engineers to determine the metes and bounds of disputed properties.
6) COURT APPOINTMENT OF THE ADMINISTRATOR OR EXECUTOR.
A Petition naming all possible heirs and listing all known properties, real or personal, of the deceased is filed with the court, seeking the appointment of an administrator or the executor named in the will who must post a bond and manage the distribution of the estate in accordance with the directives of the court.
7) HEARINGS TO DETERMINE THE HEIRS.
The court at some point will make a declaration of who are the heirs of the decedent based on the evidence presented by the parties and oppositors.
8) DISTRIBUTION OF THE ESTATE.
After settling the taxes on the estate, paying off creditors , and determining the heirs, the court will proceed to the distribution of the estate based on the agreement of the parties, if any, or if there is no agreement based on the evidence presented in court.
Note that these cases could be highly litigious before the parties can come to some sort of agreement as to the manner of partitioning the estate or the sale of the properties and the distribution of the proceeds.
B) Extrajudicial Settlement or Partition of Estate
For the surviving heirs to be allowed to do an extrajudicial settlement of the estate, there must be no will, no debts , and all must be in agreement as to the partition of the properties belonging to the estate.
A Petition is prepared by a lawyer which normally will include a declaration of all the heirs that they are the ONLY heirs of the decedent, the appointment of an administrator or attorney in fact who will act for and on behalf of the heirs with respect to the properties. This document once completed will be published in such manner as the court will order. After the completion of the publication, the heirs or the representative appointed in the Extrajudicial Settlement can provide copies to the banks holding the money in the name of the deceased and register the document with the Register of Deeds where real properties are registered.
Estate and other taxes need to be settled and the annotation of the Statute of Non Claims, which gives creditors 2 years to file a claim, is made on the titles of the real properties before any disposition of the assets can be made.