Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide any legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a legal professional such as a lawyer licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.
Introduction: What is a Will, Why is it Important to Write One and Who Should You Leave Your Estate To?
A will is a legal document that controls how your property will be distributed after your death. It also names an executor (also called an administrator or trustee), who will be in charge of carrying out the instructions in the will.
A will can help you avoid costly and time-consuming court battles by specifying who gets what, as well as how to distribute your assets or other valuable items.
If you die without a will, your assets will be governed by the law of intestate succession. This means that the assets will be transferred according to the applicable law at the time of your death which may not necessarily be in line with your wishes.
What is an Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate? Is it an Alternative to a Will in the Philippines?
An Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate is a legal process involving surviving heirs of a deceased person to distribute the deceased person’s property. The surviving heirs of the deceased will sign a document called “Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate”.
Executing one’s last will is not a common practice in the Philippines. Most people in the Philippines die without a will. An Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate is the legal process available for the heirs and beneficiaries to manage and distribute the properties left behind by the deceased. This process does not involve the court (extrajudicial means “out-of-court”). It is essential, however, that all heirs agree on the distribution of assets and sign the deed of extrajudicial settlement in front of a notary public. If the heirs cannot agree, then going to court will be the last option.
Send any questions in your mind.
What are the Requirements for an Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate?
- Decedent left no will and no debts.
- The heirs are all of age, or the minors are represented by their judicial or legal representatives duly authorized for the purpose.
- The Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate is made in a public instrument (notarized).
- The fact of extrajudicial settlement is published in a newspaper of general circulation (note that the extrajudicial settlement is not binding upon any person who has not participated therein or had no notice thereof).
- A bond is filed with the Register of Deeds.
What Other Documents Do You Need if You Live Abroad?
If you do not intend to travel and personally process the distribution or transfer of assets in the Philippines by yourself, consider executing a “Special Power of Attorney”. Better known as “SPA”, a Special Power of Attorney is a legal document that authorizes someone to act on your behalf. An SPA is usually required in formal settings such as when dealing with a government office.
Also, consider having your SPA authenticated (colloquially known as “consularized” or “red ribbon”) if you live outside the Philippines. This process ensures that your document which was executed abroad is valid for use in the Philippines.
What are the Benefits of Obtaining Legal Counsel in the Philippines?
The Philippines is a country with a rich and diverse legal system influenced by the old Spanish Civil Code and the United States Code. In other words, the Philippine legal system is complex.
Obtaining legal counsel is recommended and can be especially important if you are living abroad or if your country has different laws than where you currently live.
Seeking out the services of a professional that specializes in law so that they can offer you their opinion on your current situation and help you make informed decisions about what to do next.
Conclusion: Proper Estate Planning Enables a Successful Property Succession
An Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate is just one among many ways to transfer the ownership of assets in an estate to the heirs or beneficiaries. It is usually completed after someone dies. It avoids costly litigation for as long as all the beneficiaries agree.
Since an Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate is a legally binding document which needs to be signed before a notary public, it is best to have one prepared by a competent legal professional such as our lawyers here at JCA LAW Office. Give us a call at 1-855-522-5290 during office hours or send us a direct message on our Facebook or Instagram Page. You may also directly send us your inquiries via our webform.