In the Absence of a Will, When Can Brothers and Sisters Inherit from their Siblings?

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This article discusses the instances when brothers and sisters can inherit from their sibling, in the absence of a will.

In Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, the play is concluded with the famous line of Dromio “We came into the world like brother and brother; and now let’s go hand in hand, not one before another”. Truly, the bond among siblings is a special one. However, not all siblings are created equal. The inequality in circumstances may bring about conflict. Nevertheless, death of one sibling can be a unifier that can bring the siblings together.  In this light, in the absence of a will, when can siblings inherit from each other?

Of course, if the decedent left a will, he is free to bequeath to his siblings the free portion of his estate without impinging on the legitime of the compulsory heirs. However, what happens if the decedent did not leave a will?

At the outset, it must be made clear that siblings are NOT compulsory heirs. This means that they are in the bottom tier when it comes to inheritance. They can be excluded by certain compulsory heirs. Thus, any of the following heirs will prevent siblings from becoming heirs to the estate of their brother or sister:

1. Children of the decedent (whether legitimate or illegitimate)

2. Parents of the decedent (whether legitimate or illegitimate)

Hence, if the sibling is survived by his children, then his brothers and sisters cannot inherit from him. Likewise, if the sibling is survived by any of his parents, then it will bar his brothers and sisters from becoming his heir in intestacy.

Conversely, cited below are the instances when the brothers and sisters can inherit from their sibling, in the absence of a will:

1.  If the decedent is survived by his spouse and siblings, then the surviving spouse gets half of the estate while the remaining half will be given to the decedent’s siblings [see Article 1001, Civil Code].

2.  If the decedent is survived by his siblings, then the siblings will get the entire estate with the siblings inheriting in equal shares [ see Article 1004, Civil Code].

Should brother and sisters of the full blood survive together with brothers and sisters of the half blood, the former shall be entitled to a share double that of the latter [Article 1006, Civil Code].

Furthermore, should brothers and sisters survive together with nephews and nieces, who are the children of the descendant’s brothers and sisters of the full blood, the former shall inherit per capita, and the latter per stirpes [Article 1005, Civil Code]. This means that if the heir-sibling is already dead, his children (the decedent’s niece or nephew) shall inherit from the decedent by right of representation [ see Article 975, Civil Code]. Hence, the nephew and nieces will inherit per stirpes. The representatives will receive only what the person represented would have received [Ruben F. Balane, Jottings and Jurisprudence in Civil Law (Succession) (2016 ed) p. 489].

This is how brothers and sisters can inherit from their sibling, in the absence of a will.

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