OUR PRACTICE AS ESTATE ,INHERITANCE, AND PROBATE LAWYERS IN THE PHIIPPINES
An estate , inheritance , or probate lawyer in the Philippines is a licensed member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines who has gained years of experience in advising the representative (known as an Executor if there is a will or an Administrator if there is no will) designated by a deceased person (known as the decedent) or by the court in proceedings known as a probate (if there is a will) or Settlement of an Intestate Estate (if there is no will). Other jurisdictions as in the United States use the term “probate” whether or not there is a will.
If the decedent had no known creditors and the heirs are all identified and have agreed among themselves as to the distribution of the properties of the decedent, an extrajudicial partition can be drawn up, published in accordance with law, registered with the Register of Deeds after the payment of the appropriate taxes, indicating the names of the heirs with their respective shares on the title.
However, if there are creditors and the heirs could not come to an agreement, the estate is settled by going to court.
Succession cases in the Philippines normally fall into two basic categories, Testate (with a will) or Intestate ( without a will). If a deceased relative died with a will, whether executed in a foreign country or not, the same can be probated in the Philippines. There is however a marked difficulty when the will is executed abroad since the formalities and the law of the foreign state normally must be proved. The process for this is called a probate of a will where the due execution and authenticity of the will must be proved, the heirs identified, and creditors including the government with respect to pending taxes notified, if any. After the distribution of the estate of the deceased either through an agreed plan of settlement between the heirs or a court mandate based on the law, titles to real properties are transferred in the names of the heirs so designated and personal properties including cash in bank accounts distributed. A similar procedure is followed in intestate cases except that there is no probate proceedings.
The process normally is adversarial and involves court proceedings necessitating the submission of evidence, accounting and inventory of assets, and satisfaction of liabilities. The proceedings only end when the estate is closed and all issues affecting the estate are dealt with, mediated, or agreed upon by the heirs.
Attorney’s fees and costs for estate cases would depend on such factors as the amount or extent of the estate, where the properties are located, the current status of the titles involved, the creditors of the estate, among others. In most cases, documentation may not be readily available, in which event a due diligence should be conducted first to determine the extent of the estate.
Among the duties undertaken by our practice as Estate or Inheritance lawyers in the Philippines may consist of the following:
1) Preparation of Extrajudicial Settlement or Partition of the estate as agreed upon by the heirs whenever allowed by law, causing the publication thereof, and the distribution of the estate in accordance therewith to the heirs or beneficiaries.
2) Locating and securing both probate assets and non-probate assets.
3) Obtaining comparative zonal, appraised, and market values and appraisals of all of the decedent’s property.
4) Preparing and filing all documents required by the probate or intestate court in a timely manner.
5) Collecting life insurance proceeds.
6) Rolling over and making appropriate elections with regard to retirement plans and passive investments of the decedent while alive and the estate of the decedent.
7) Coordinating the payment of the decedent’s outstanding obligations upon death and those due while the estate is being settled.
8) Keeping track of the estate bank accounts.
9) Determining the estate and other types of taxes due on estate real and liquid assets, and identifying the sources of the payments necessary with the approval of the probate or estate court.
10) Acting as administrator or executor if allowed by the probate or intestate court.
11) Settling disputes among Personal Representatives and heirs or beneficiaries.
12) Assisting with the sale of estate property.
13) Requesting court permission for various actions as required by the Rules of Court promulgated by the Supreme Court of the Philippines pertaining to the Settlement of Estates of Deceased Persons.
14) Retitling the decedent’s real estate into the names of the estate beneficiaries if it is not being sold.
15) Coordinating with the court the distribution of the remainder of the decedent’s assets to the heirs declared by the court after the payment of bills and taxes.