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Intestate Succession: How to Handle Inheritance without a Will

Have you written out your will yet? Writing a will isn’t in many people’s minds. Wills aren’t common in the Philippines, and even then, many believe they’re too young to think about it. Unfortunately, death is often unpredictable and can strike the most unlikely of people. A written will can help grieving loved ones figure out how to handle the deceased’s assets and property without worrying about whether they’re going with or against his or her wishes. If a loved one dies without a will, you’ll have to handle their property in accordance with intestate succession. This is in accordance with Article 960 of the Civil Code.

Here is a brief guide to intestate succession, so that you know what to expect and how to handle the assets and property of a deceased loved one.

1. What is a will?

A will, or a last will and testament, is a legal document dictating how the writer of the will would want his or her assets to be distributed after his or her death. Many choose to divide their assets up to give to any heirs or descendants. They can also give their assets to other family members, non-family members, an organization, or a charity. They can even dictate when these assets should be given to the heirs.

A last will and testament will only take effect after the writer’s death. The will must also name an executor, who will handle the distribution of assets. 

2. What is intestate succession?

The handling of assets is simple enough if the deceased had a will prepared. But what happens when a person dies without having written a will at all? The distribution of assets without a written will is called intestate succession. The law and the state will handle the assets, and will divide and distribute it to a list of certain compulsory heirs.

3. Who are the compulsory heirs in intestate succession?

The list of compulsory heirs goes in accordance with priority. Those listed towards the top should have  the closest relationship to the deceased and are as follows:

  1. Legitimate children or descendants
  2. Legitimate parents or ascendants
  3. Surviving spouse
  4. Illegitimate children or descendants.
  5. Siblings and their descendants, if any


Dying without having written a will means that your loved ones wouldn’t know what your intentions were with your assets. As a result, intestate succession may distribute your assets in ways you might not agree with otherwise. It’s a good idea to think of your will as soon as now, especially if your assets are plentiful. 

If you plan on writing your will, it’s a good idea to hire an estate lawyer. An estate lawyer can either help you with the process or even write the will on your behalf. He or she can also ensure that your wishes are fully carried out. If you’re looking for an estate lawyer to help you with your will, consider booking a consultation with Sadsad Tamesis Legal and Accountancy Firm’s team of lawyers.

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