Estate Settlement Guide

Estate Settlement FAQ (if a loved one passes away).

What do we do to settle an estate?

The compulsory heirs have two options: First, extrajudicial settlement (with certain conditions); Second, judicial settlement.

  • When a person passes away, his or her properties are inherited by compulsory heirs (i.e. the children and surviving spouse). If there is a will, each compulsory heir is entitled to a mandatory minimum inheritance called a legitime.

Does that mean an estate can be settled without going to court?

Yes. But, extrajudicial settlement is only available if: a.) there is no will; b.) the deceased left no debts c.) all the compulsory heirs are willing to sign the extra judicial settlement (EJS).

What if we (compulsory heirs) are not on good terms; or, if we do not meet the conditions for EJS?

It’s always best to settle out of court but there is a process for the settlement to be done in Court.

If the settlement of estate is done in court, who will take care of the properties and pay for the recurring expenses (i.e. association dues, real estate tax)?

The court-appointed administrator of the estate.

Who will the court appoint?

Any compulsory heir may ask the court to be appointed as administrator of the estate while the case is pending.  Choosing who to appoint is subject to the discretion of the court, however, for some instances, the Rules provide a preference on who shall be appointed (i.e. the closest relative/s). The administrator will need to take an oath and post a bond with the court.

What if we suddenly find a will?

The law requires that every will be subject to a proceeding called ‘Probate’.  This is done in court.  The court will determine the due execution and authenticity of the will.

Is the process or probate long?

If there is no contentious issue, the process can take 1-2 years (still, sometimes longer).

How much are estate taxes?

For updated rates, you can refer to the BIR’s official documentation: [estate tax information](](

When can properties be transferred to the heirs?

If you present an EJS and a Certificate Authorizing Registration (CAR) to the Register of Deeds (RD), he will issue a new title in the name of the heirs.

If you are settling the estate in court, presenting a Final Order of Distribution as well as a CAR is sufficient for the RD to transfer the title.