Who Inherits the Property of a Filipino with an Acquired Foreign Citizenship?

What happens to the rights of a Filipino who acquired foreign citizenship? Will he or she lose his or her rights as a Filipino? How will it affect their rights in land ownership and property acquisition in the Philippines?

A Former Filipino is a Filipino who, after several years of working and living in a foreign country, decides to denounce his/her Filipino citizenship to acquire the foreign citizenship. Atty. Rex JMA Fernandez shares the who will have the right to inherit a former Filipino’s properties in the Philippine.

If a former Filipino dies, who will inherit his/her properties in the Philippines?

A lot of people have a misunderstanding that when a Filipino acquires foreign citizenship, he or she loses any rights a filipino citizen has. “That is not true,” says Atty. Fernandez. He added “Filipinos retain his/her rights of succession. This has many implications, including the rights to succeed from the spouse despite being divorced but without nullity of marriage.” 

Take in the case of now divorced Filipinos, Spouse A & B, in the United States of America. Thy have who decided to live abroad for several years and has also acquired US citizenship. Their marriage was rocky and was not going well. So they had decided to end their marriage and got divorced in the US. They have yet to nullify their marriage in the Philippines when Spouse A passed away due to an illness. She left a few properties back in her home country, Philippines, that is still under her name. This led to her siblings and estranged husband are arguing on who has the right to properties in the Philippines which are still under her name. 

Atty. Fernandez explains, “The spouse is an heir of the spouse. If a spouse in the Philippines dies the surviving spouse whether in the Phillipines or outside or even divorced but not annulled can succeed to the dead spouse properties.”

READ: Can a Former Filipino with acquired foreign citizenship buy a property in the Philippines?

This means that the properties left my Spouse A in her death, by law, should go to the husband even though he is a US citizen and they have divorced in the US prior to her death. This is because the law respects the marriage between them that was not annulled or nullified before her demise. In the Philippine courts, Spouse A & B is still married at the time of Spouse A’s untimely demise.

This means if a Filipino acquires a foreign citizenship and divorce his/her spouse, the remaining spouse will have the rights to any properties left if the marriage has yet to be annulled or nullified at the time of death.