WHAT IS LEGITIME? — ALBURO LAW

Upon knowing what legitime is, read also: MAY AN HEIR BE SUBSTITUTED?

  • A person executing a Will may not donate some parts of his property
  • The law can interfere with how a person dispose his property
  • With or without a Will, an heir can still inherit from a person who has died

We have repeatedly mentioned Legitime in our previous articles. For instance is our article on “Who are considered Heirs under the law? (Part II)”. In layman’s term, legitime is that part of a person’s property or rights (estate) which he cannot sell, donate, or transfer in any manner. The ownership over that certain part of a person’s estate cannot be transferred to a stranger. Bear in mind that when we say stranger, we mean those who are not part of the family.

For a better understanding, let us have a hypothetical example.

Peter and Jane who are married to each other have two legitimate children named John and James. Peter died with an estate worth Twelve Million Pesos (Php 12, 000,000.00). Peter died with a Notarial Will. In his Will, he instituted John and James to receive Three Million Pesos (Php 3, 000,000.00) each. Jane, his wife, to receive a part of the estate amounting to Three Million Pesos (Php 3, 000, 000.00). Is Peter’s act of designating the heirs and specifying their inheritance proper?

The law says:

Yes.

Take note that Jane, John, and James are Peter’s compulsory heirs. So, when Peter died with a Will, the law mandates that John and James are to receive at least one-half (1/2) of the estate and shall be divided equally between them. One-half of Peter’s estate which is Six Million Pesos (Php 6, 000, 000.00) shall be for both John and James. The Php 6, 000, 000.00 was equally divided between John and James. Thus, the Will stating that both John and James will receive Three Million Pesos (Php 3, 000,000.00) each is proper and in accordance with law.

How about the case of Jane, Peter’s spouse?

Under the law, the share of Jane shall be the same as the share of one legitimate child of Peter. In other words, the share of Jane should be equal to the share of either John or James. In this case, the share of Jane should also be Three Million Pesos (Php 3, 000,000.00). Like in the case of John and James, the amount of inheritance of Jane is in accordance with law.

Let us take another scenario with the same characters.

Peter and Jane who are married to each other have two legitimate children named John and James. He also has a best friend and trusted business partner named Lucas. Peter died with an estate worth Twelve Million Pesos (Php 12, 000, 000.00). Peter died with a Notarial Will. Afraid that his hard-earned money would go to waste, he specified in his Will that John, James, and Jane are to receive One Million Pesos (Php 2, 000, 000.00) each. He also instituted Lucas to receive the remaining Nine Million Pesos (Php 9, 000, 000.00). Is Peter’s act of designating the heirs and specifying their inheritance proper?

The law says:

No.

Basing it from the estate of Peter worth Php 12, 000,000.00, the total amount of inheritance received by John and James do not equal to Php 6, 000,000.00, which is half of Peter’s estate. The amount of inheritance which is to be received each by John and James should be Php 3, 000,000.00. Also, Jane should be entitled to Php 3, 000,000.00 which is the same with the supposed inheritance Peter’s one legitimate child. Clearly John, James, and Jane did not receive their full legitime.

Can John, James, and Jane recover their respective Php2, 000, 000.00 to complete their individual legitime of Php 3, 000, 000.00?

The law says:

Yes.

Although Peter was the absolute owner of his estate, the law says that he cannot freely donate the whole of it. He cannot donate, sell, or transfer in any manner some parts of his estate. This is because that part of the estate called legitime is reserved by law to definite heirs-the compulsory heirs.

This time, the law will operate to say that John, James, and Jane can recover their respective Php 2, 000, 000.00 to complete their legitime of Php 3, 000, 000. 00 from Lucas. Can Lucas say that the Will of Peter was even notarized and should be respected? No. In effect, John, James, and Jane will eventually have Php 3, 000, 000.00 each while Lucas will still have his Php 3, 000, 000.00

How about if Peter died without a Will?

In such a case, the law will again operate to equally divide the whole estate worth Php 12, 000,000.00 of Peter to John, James, and Jane. Thus, each of them will inherit an amount of Php 4, 000, 000.00. Lucas, the best friend and trusted business partner, will no longer receive any part of the inheritance as he is not a compulsory neither instituted as a voluntary heir.

It should be clear now that with or without a will, the compulsory heirs are entitled to their legitime.

Alburo Alburo and Associates Law Offices specializes in business law and labor law consulting. For inquiries, you may reach us at info@alburolaw.com, or dial us at (02)7745–4391/0917–5772207. All rights reserved. SUBSCRIBE TO ALBURO ALBURO AND ASSOCIATES LAW OFFICES VIA EMAIL.

Originally published at https://www.alburolaw.com on July 11, 2020.