What should be done to the estate of the deceased without a will or debt but with an heir?


Dear PAO,

My son died a month ago. As the mother and the only heir, since he died without a wife or children, I made an inventory of the possessions he left after his funeral. Therefore, we have learned that he left behind a substantial amount of properties and money. After paying the expenses for his funeral, I learned that he left no will and it seems he left no obligations as well. Given the circumstances, are we required to submit his estate to a special intestate inheritance settlement procedure in court?


Dear Remedios,

The answer to your question is no. Indeed, since your case indicates that the deceased died without a will, without any debt but with an adult heir, then the out-of-court settlement of the estate is authorized by the Rules of Court and is in fact encouraged, namely:

“RULE 74: Summary settlement of the succession

“Section 1. Extrajudicial settlement by agreement between heirs. – If the deceased left no will or debts and the heirs are all adults or the minors are represented by their judicial or legal representatives duly mandated for this purpose, the parties may, without obtaining letters of administration, share the estate as they see fit by means of a public deed filed with the registry of deeds, and in case of disagreement, they can do so in an ordinary partition action. If there is only one heir, he can take the entire estate by means of an affidavit filed at the office of the register of deeds. The parties to an out-of-court settlement, whether by public document

either by stipulation in the pending partition action, or the sole heir who assumes the entire estate by means of an affidavit filed, simultaneously and as a condition precedent to the filing of the public deed, or stipulation in the action for sharing, or in the affidavit to the office of the register of deeds, a bond with said register of deeds, in an amount equivalent to the value of the movable property concerned as certified under oath by the parties concerned and conditional on the payment of any just claim that may be filed under Article 4 of this rule. It is presumed that the deceased left no debt if no creditor files a request for letters of administration within two years of the death of the deceased.

“The fact of settlement or extrajudicial administration will be published in a newspaper of large circulation in the manner provided for in the following article; but no out-of-court settlement shall be binding on anyone who has not participated in it or has not been notified thereof. (emphasis provided)

Regarding the above, the Supreme Court in the case of Butiong v. Plazo (GR 187524, August 5, 2015), written by Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta, ruled that whenever the deceased dies without a will, a debt and the heirs are all of age, out-of-court settlement of the estate is encouraged, to know :

“xxx. Section 1 of Rule 74 in which the heirs of a deceased person, who have left no will and no debt due to his estate, may divide the estate either extrajudicially or in an ordinary share action without submitting the one. here to the judicial administration nor to request the appointment of an administrator by the court. The reason is that when the deceased dies without outstanding obligations, it is not necessary to appoint an administrator to administer the estate to his place and to deprive beneficial owners of the possession to which they are immediately entitled.

“In this case, it was expressly alleged in the complaint, and has not been contested, that Pedro died without a will, leaving his estate with no outstanding obligations. Thus, contrary to what the petitioner claims, the respondents had no legal obligation to submit the immovable property concerned to a special procedure for intestate succession settlement and are, in fact, encouraged to share it, judicially or extrajudicially. (emphasis provided)

If Article 1, Article 74 of the Rules of Court authorizes the heirs to divide the estate among themselves as they see fit or to resort to an ordinary action in partition, this provision does not oblige them to do so if they have good reasons to do so. ‘adopt a different course of action. It should be noted that resorting to an administration procedure even if the estate has no debts is only sanctioned if the heirs have good reasons for not resorting to the share action. Where partition is possible, whether in court or out of court, the estate should not be burdened with administrative proceedings without valid and compelling reasons.

Thus, it has been argued many times that when a person dies without leaving any outstanding obligations to pay, his heirs, adult or not, are not required to submit the property to a judicial administration, which is always long and costly, or to request the appointment of an administrator by the court. It has been universally accepted that in such cases, court administration and the appointment of an administrator are unnecessary and unnecessary procedures.

We hope we have been able to answer your questions. Remember that this advice is based solely on the facts you have reported and our appreciation of them. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or developed.

Editor’s Note: Dear PAO is a daily column for the DA’s office. Questions for Chef Acosta can be sent to [email protected]

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