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Lupang Hinirang: Probate Issues with Property in The Philippines


By: Janice Dantes


Many Filipinos living in the United States still have extensive ties to the Philippines including family, friends, and in many cases property. If you have not executed any estate planning documents or discussed your plans for the property in the Philippines with your heirs, please know that you are leaving your children with a huge headache. Below are my tips to dealing with property in the Philippines:

1. Sell your Property in the Philippines when you are still alive. Many Filipinos with property in the Philippines have children who live outside of the Philippines and have no intention of returning to the Philippines. If this is the case for you and you are unable to maintain the property, it might be best to just sell the property when you are still alive and move into a rental property.

2. Create estate planning documents in the Philippines. Many Filipinos who create a will or other estate planning documents only create the estate planning documents in the United States with an American lawyer. Make sure you fi nd an attorney in the Philippines to execute the proper documents in the Philippines in line with the laws in the Philippines. There are laws in the Philippines that contradict the laws in the State of Illinois. For example, in the Philippines, distributions to your children must be equal. In Illinois, you can choose to give one child more than the others or disinherit a child altogether.

3. Know all your heirs. In many cases, not all heirs are known. In many Filipino families, sometimes there are children born outside the marriage, oftentimes to mistresses or prostitutes in the Philippines. Sometimes they are acknowledged and sometimes they are not. In Illinois, children born outside a marriage are still heirs and could have a claim to your estate. If you have children born outside a marriage, I highly recommend being open about it. These are diffi cult conversations, but it is better that you are clear about who you want your estate to go to even if you have a non-traditional family. If you want to give a portion of your estate to your family out of wedlock or leave them out altogether, be sure you execute the proper documents to avoid litigation in court.

The main takeaway is plan, plan, plan! Make sure you discuss your intentions with your family and put them in writing with the assistance of a lawyer. The last thing your children want is for you to leave them a headache.

If you have questions about the assets and debts in your estate, please contact me at (312) 546-5077 or janice@pinaylaw.com.

Thank you for reading. Until we meet again, love one another.

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