Proximity rule in succession
My nephew died single and childless. His parents are also long dead. I am his maternal aunt and the only one left to administer his property since he did not leave a will. Another relative, the daughter of my nephew’s first cousin, gets involved in the way I handle things. She is asserting her so-called rights to my nephew’s estate. Don’t I rule it out, being a closer relative of my nephew?
To answer your question, let us draw your attention to Article 962 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, which states in part:
“Article 962. In any succession, the closest relative in degree excludes the most distant, except the right of representation when it takes place regularly. xxx “
This is called the rule of proximity in succession, which answers your question in the affirmative, and which was clearly explained in an old case which presents facts similar to your situation:
“The rule of proximity is a concept which favors the closest relatives in degree of the deceased and excludes the most distant except when and to the extent that the right of representation may apply. Xxx” (Ofelia Hernando Bagunu v. Pastora Piedad , GR 140975, 8 December 2000, Ponente: associate judge Jose C. Vitug)
You, as a maternal aunt, are a third civil relation of your nephew, while the daughter of your nephew’s first cousin is his fifth civil relation. By applying the aforementioned proximity rule, you, as a third degree relative, exclude a fifth degree relative from inheriting ab intestato or in intestate succession because you mentioned that your nephew did not leave a will.
In support of the argument that she is entitled to succeed, the applicant in this case relied on other provisions of the Civil Code. The said attempt was invalidated by the Supreme Court, thus:
“Article 1009, If there are no brothers or sisters or children of brothers or sisters, the other collaterals succeed the succession.
“The latter will follow one another without distinction of lineage or preference between them because of whole blood kinship.
“Article 1010. The right to inherit ab intestato does not extend beyond the fifth degree of kinship in the collateral line.
“Invoked by the petitioner, do not support his cause at all. The law only means that among the other collateral relatives (the sixth in the line of succession) no preference or distinction will be observed ‘on account of blood kinship In fine, a maternal aunt can inherit equally with a first cousin of the half-blood but an uncle or an aunt, being related to the third degree, excludes the cousins of the deceased, being in the fourth degree of relationship; the latter , in turn, would have priority to the succession of a fifth-degree relative. (Ibid.)
We hope we have been able to answer your questions. This advice is based solely on the facts you have related and our assessment of them. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or developed.
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