Friday, September 5, 2008

Legitime Mnemonics

Legitime is that part of the testator's estate which he cannot dispose of because the law has reserved it for his compulsory heirs [Art. 886, NCC].

Who are Compulsory Heirs

A. Primary Compulsory Heirs

1. Legitimate children and their legitimate descendants
2. Surviving spouse and their descendants
3. Illegitimate children and their descendants, whether legitimate or illegitimate.

B. Secondary compulsory Heirs

1. Legitimate parents and other legitimate ascendants [they inherit only in default of legitimate children and their descendants]
2. Illegitimate parents [other illegitimate ascendants not included]. they inherit only in default of legitimate and illegitimate children and their respective descendants.


1. Purpose of legitime is to protect the surviving spouse and the children from the unjustified anger or thoughtlessness of the testator.
2. If there are no compulsory heirs, there can be no legitime.
3. The testator cannot deprive the compulsory heirs of their legitime except through valid disinheritance.
4. The testator cannot impose any conditions, substitutions, or burdens on the legitime except the condition that the estate will not be divided for a period not exceeding 20 years [Art. 1083]
5. Donationis inter vivos are to be reduced if found inofficious [ i.e. if they exceed the free portion].
6. Compulsory heirs are not compelled to accept their legitime.

Legitimes of Compulsory Heirs

LC = legitimate child[ren]
IC = illegitimate chid[ren]
SS = surviving spouse
LP = legitimate parent[s]
IP = illegitimate parent[s]

  • LC only = 1/2 of estate divided by number of children
  • 1 LC = still 1/2
  • 1LC + SS = LC 1/2; SS 1/4
  • 2 or more LC + SS = LC 1/2; SS - same as 1LC
  • 2 or more LC + SS + IC = LC 1/2 + SS same as 1LC, taken from free portion + IC 1/2 share of 1LC, taken from free portion
  • LP + SS = LP 1/2 + SS 1/4
  • SS + IC = SS 1/3; IC 1/3
  • LP + SS + IC = IP 1/2 [even if only 1] + SS 1/8 + IC 1/4
  • LP only = 1/2
  • IC only = 1/2
  • SS only = 1/2
  • SS only, but marriage was in articulo mortis and testator died within 3 mos from marriage = 1/3
  • SS only, but parties had lived together for more than 5 yrs before their marriage = 1/2
  • LP + SS = Ip 1/4 + SS 1/4
  • IP + IC = IP [none] + IC 1/2

Remember Also:

  1. Legitimate children always get 1/2 of the estate as legitime. This is true even if there is only one child.
  2. Legitimate parents as secondary compulsory heirs also always get 1/2 of the estate as their legitime, which is true even if only one legitmate parent survives.
  3. There is no representation in the ascending line.
  4. The legitime of the surviving spouse must be paid first out of the free portion; then give the illegitimate childdren their legitime. Ergo, if there are many illegitimate children, each of them might not get 1/2 of the share of a legitimate child.
  5. There is also representation of illegitimate children.
  6. Illegitimate children do not inherit abintestato from legitimate children and relatives of their illegitimate father and mother because of the barrier, and vice versa [Art. 992].
  7. Brothers and sisters are not compulsory heirs, but they are intestate heirs. So, a testator can give his entire estate to strangers in his will, excluding his brothers and sisters.
  8. To determine the legitime, get the value of the property minus debts, plus the value of donations subject to collation [Art. 908].
  9. Donations to children shall be charged to their legitime; donations to strangers shall be charged to the free portion; if they are inofficious, they shall be reduced [Art. 909].
  10. The legitimate of legitimate parents shall be divided between them equally. If one parent is dead, the other gets the whole legitime.
  11. If the testator has no legitimate parents but is survived by ascendants of equal degree, the legitime shall be divided equally between paternal and maternal lines. If the ascendants are of different degrees, the ones nearest in degree get the entire legitime [Art. 889].

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