What are the inheritance rights of an illegitimate child in the Philippines?

In the Philippines, an illegitimate child can only have the right to inherit if the father acknowledges or recognizes the child as his.

If you aren’t formally acknowledged yet, you can follow one of the procedures discussed here that is applicable to you, provided you have the necessary documents and evidence to prove your relationship with your father. This can be done even after the father has died but there is a specified period within which you can file an action to compel recognition.

Note, however, that even if the illegitimate child is acknowledged by the father, he/she is only entitled to inherit 1/2 of the share of a legitimate child. This share can be further reduced, depending on the number of compulsory heirs.


How can an illegitimate child improve his/her inheritance rights?

Here are four ways an illegitimate child can improve his/her inheritance rights with respect to the parent/s:

By asking your parent to legally adopt you, the relationship between the two of you will become that of a parent to a legitimate child in the eyes of the law. Hence, you will have the same rights as a legitimate child. Learn more about this process here.

2. Life insurance.

If your parent refuses to go through the process of legal adoption, an alternative would be to have the parent get life insurance and name you as an irrevocable beneficiary, meaning your designation as a beneficiary can’t be changed (even by your parent who is the policy owner) without your consent.

The amount of life insurance proceeds can equalize you with your legitimate siblings if you become the only person named in the insurance policy. In addition to that, the proceeds of the life insurance will not be subjected to estate tax (assuming you’re an irrevocable beneficiary) unlike the estate inherited by your legitimate siblings which are subject to a maximum tax rate of 20% (for net estates of Php 10 million and above)

Related: How to File and Pay Taxes: An Ultimate Guide to Philippine Tax

3. Donation.

Your parent can also donate property to you during his/her lifetime, although this would be subject to collation where the value of donations given to compulsory heirs (e.g., children, illegitimate or legitimate) during the lifetime of the deceased is imputed and computed to determine the actual size of the estate and the shares (legitime) of the compulsory heirs (Art. 1061, Civil Code).

In the event that it’s within a free portion, the donation will be respected.

4. Holographic Will.

When computing the legitime (shares), the remaining portion of the estate is also referred to as the “free” portion. A person who executes a will may have a free portion remaining, depending on the number and type of heirs surviving the deceased.

If a free portion of the estate is available, the parent can execute a notarial or holographic will where a part (or all) of the free portion is given to the illegitimate child in so doing equalizing him/her with any legitimate siblings.


Can an illegitimate child inherit from grandparents?

No. Under Article 992 of the New Civil Code, an illegitimate child has no right to inherit from the relatives of his or her father or mother except through testate succession.

If the grandparents died intestate (meaning, they died without will and testament), an illegitimate child will not have a share to the properties of the grandparents.

Should the grandparents want to give the illegitimate child something before they die, they can choose one of the four ways to improve the latter’s inheritance rights discussed above.

Go back to the main article: An Ultimate Guide to an Illegitimate Child’s Rights, Birth Registration, and Legitimization