Ask the Pros: Can I Still Inherit Land in the Philippines Even if I’m No Longer a Filipino Citizen?
It’s no secret that Filipinos are found around the globe, with many migrating and becoming official citizens of the countries they live in. Given this scenario, can a Filipino who is no longer a citizen of the Philippines still inherit land in our country?
According to the lawyers we talked to, Filipinos who lost their Philippine citizenship are generally treated as foreigners. Nevertheless, a former Filipino citizen still retains his or her right to inherit real properties in the Philippines.
However, there are limitations prescribed by law that must be kept in mind. To give you an idea of how inheritance and foreign citizenship work, we asked Atty. Steffi Banaag for general information. A practicing lawyer for seven years now, Atty. Steffi lets us in on the laws that govern owning land by way of legal inheritance.
READ: Ask the Pros: Can Filipinos with Foreign Citizenship Still Own Real Estate Properties in the Philippines?
Can someone still inherit land even if he or she is no longer a Filipino Citizen?
Legal opinions on this matter may vary but we can look to the Constitution to guide us. Sections 3 and 8 of Article XII of the Constitution restrict the ownership of land by individuals to Filipinos and former Filipinos. An exception to this is Section 7 of Article XII of the Constitution, which allows foreign citizens to own land by way of legal inheritance.
Section 7 states that: “Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private lands shall be transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain.”
Hereditary succession refers to intestate inheritance or the type of succession where there is no valid last will and testament. In such cases, inheritance of the property is by operation of law. Simply put, Section 7 allows a foreign national to inherit a property in the Philippines only when the inheritance is by operation of law and not through a last will and testament. Thus, if a deceased person leaves property in the Philippines to a foreign national through a last will and testament, the transfer will be invalid.
Since a former Filipino is generally treated by Philippine laws as a foreign national, it can be argued that he can only be allowed to inherit by operation of law, and not by virtue of a last will and testament.
READ: Ask the Pros: What Happens to a Deceased Person’s Properties?
However, legal opinions may differ on this matter since he is not a simple foreign national, but a former Filipino citizen. Section 8 of Article XII of the Constitution provides:
“Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 7 of this Article, a natural-born citizen of the Philippines who has lost his Philippine citizenship may be a transferee of private lands, subject to limitations provided by law.”
It may be argued that BP 185 and RA 7042 (as amended by RA 8179) may still be relevant in this case considering that he is not a simple foreign national, but a former Filipino citizen. Thus, it can be argued that a former Filipino citizen may inherit properties in the Philippines, regardless of whether through a will or by operation of law, but still subject to the maximum land area provided under the aforementioned laws. The applicability of the said laws will depend on the specific facts of the situation.
Are you a former Filipino citizen who can relate to this concern or do you know someone who went through a similar scenario? If you have specific questions, it’s best to get in touch with a lawyer for advice and consultation. The information shared in this article is for general information only.
READ: Ask the Pros: How Do You Transfer a Land Title in the Philippines?
Special thanks to Attorneys Nikki Cortina, Steffi Banaag, Mhealler Ycong, Aila May Alvarez, and Christopher Linag.
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