Illegitimate child’s inheritance right

September 8, 2022

Dear Atty. Angela,

My parents are not married and my father passed away when I was still a child. I recently found out that my grandfather (my father’s dad) already passed away and left several estates to his children. I would want to know if as the daughter of my father, I could substitute him over his inheritance from my grandfather. I hope you could help me.

Eileen

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Dear Eileen,

When a nonmarital child seeks to represent a deceased parent to succeed in his/her grandparent’s estate, Article 982 of the Civil Code shall apply. Article 982 provides:

“ARTICLE 982. 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.” The language of Article 982 does not make any distinctions or qualifications as to the birth status of the “grandchildren and other descendants” granted the right of representation.

The Supreme Court En Banc in Diaz v Intermediate Appellate Court, GR. L-66574 (1990), penned by Associate Justice Edgardo Paras, held that the rules laid down in Article 982 “are subject to the limitation prescribed in Article 992 to the end that an illegitimate child has no right to inherit ab intestato (intestate) from the legitimate children and relatives of his father or mother.”

However, this ruling has already been overturned by Aquino v Aquino, GR 208912 (2021) under the ponencia of Associate Justice Marvic Mario Victor F. Leonen, where the Supreme Court En Banc, abandoned the above ruling. It explained:

“This Court abandons the presumption in In re Grey, Corpus, Diaz, and In re Suntay, among others, that nonmarital children are products of illicit relationships or that they are automatically placed in a hostile environment perpetrated by the marital family. We are not duty bound to uncritically parrot archaic prejudices and cruelties, to mirror and amplify oppressive and regressive ideas about the status of children and family life. The best interest of the child should prevail.”

“We adopt a construction of Article 992 that makes children, regardless of the circumstances of their births, qualified to inherit from their direct ascendants — such as their grandparents — by their right of representation. Both marital and nonmarital children, whether born from a marital or nonmarital child, are blood relatives of their parents and other ascendants.”

Applying this most recent decision, it is clear that an illegitimate child now has the right to inherit from his or her grandparent in the representation of the deceased parent. The Court removed the distinction between a legitimate and an illegitimate child in terms of inheriting by right of representation from a direct ascendant. Thus, you are now entitled to inherit from your grandfather through the right of representation of your deceased father.

I hope this has helped answer your query.

Atty. Angela Antonio


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