Adopted child to inherit half of Dolphy’s estate?
Since Philippine laws on succession prioritize legitimate children, Nicole Quizon – legally adopted by Dolphy in 1990 – gets a much bigger inheritance under the law than any of her siblings.
Lawyer Toni Coo of the law firm Coo & Partners explained to GMA News Online that under the Domestic Adoption Law, a legally adopted child is considered legitimate. Coo & Partners specializes in succession cases.
“In this situation, since Nicole is the only legitimate child, she will be entitled to half of the entire estate of Dolphy,” Coo explained.
The rest of the Quizon brood will divide the remaining half of Dolphy’s estate among themselves, Coo said, citing Article 895 of the Civil Code.
Lawyer Angelo Cabrera, Executive Counsel of AMC Law Office, which handles estate and inheritance-related issues, agreed with Coo’s opinion.
“If it is true that Nicole is indeed legally adopted, she does get half of Dolphy’s estate,” he said.
Dolphy had 18 children with six different women. His fourth child, Freddie, died in 2005. According to law, only the living can inherit property from the dead. However, Freddie’s three children are entitled to his share.
According to Dolphy’s memoir, "Hindi Ko Ito Narating Mag-isa," Nicole Quizon, Dolphy’s 17th child, was legally adopted by him, making her the only legitimate child in the brood since her siblings were born out of wedlock.
“Si Nicole, dinala sa akin sa Hizon’s, at gusto raw ng nanay, sa akin mapunta. She was just a few months old,” the late comedian wrote. Nicole's family and friends also call her Coco, the second to the youngest of Dolphy's children and sent by Dolphy to Australia for her college education.
“Nakilala ko ‘yong ina. Gustuhin man niyang bawiin ang bata, hindi puwede. Legally adopted e,” he added.
Dolphy’s long-time partner Zsa Zsa Padilla and his son Eric Quizon have revealed that the comedy king did leave a last will and testament, of which they are co-executors.
According to Philippine law, leaving a will does not mean that a person can freely distribute his or her properties after death. The law requires a portion of the deceased's estate to be reserved for certain heirs called "compulsory heirs." In this case, the compulsory heirs are Dolphy's children.
Cabrera explained that whatever is in Dolphy's will, which has not been divulged publicly, the law already requires half of his estate to go to Nicole, and the other half to her siblings. Nothing of Dolphy's estate would be left to be given out by will.
Coo further pointed out that the mothers of Dolphy’s children are not entitled to inherit from him.
Zsa Zsa’s share not her inheritance
The comedy king and the singer-actress were together for the last 23 years, though it was only in May 2011 that her marriage to Dr. Modesto Tatlonghari was annulled.
Any property Zsa Zsa gets from the dissolution of her long-time civil relationship with Dolphy must not be misconstrued as inheritance. Rather, those properties never became part of Dolphy’s estate, Coo said.
Effect of annulment of Zsa Zsa's previous marriage
Coo said that during the first part of Dolphy and Zsa Zsa’s partnership – when her marriage was a “legal hindrance” for him to marry her – only their “actual contributions” to their illicit union belonged to them both while they were still living together.
Article 148 of the Family Code also provides that “if one of the parties is validly married to another, his or her share in the co-ownership” belongs to the married couple once the extra-marital affair ends -- which, in this case, ended with Dolphy's death.
After Zsa Zsa’s marriage was annulled, her union with Dolphy then fell under Article 147 of the Family Code, which governs the relationship between a man and a woman – both single – who live exclusively with each other as husband and wife without getting married.
Under Art. 147, their wages and salaries shall be owned by them in equal shares and the property acquired by both of them through their work or industry would be governed by the rules on co-ownership.
No sign of resentment
Despite the unique status of Nicole as the only adopted and legitimate child of Dolphy, and thus the heir of a larger portion of the late comedian's fortune, there has been no sign of resentment from her siblings. In the weeks before and after his death on July 10, no word of family discord leaked out and their public appearances have exuded only warmth and unity.
Nicole herself said in her eulogy for her father that he loved them all.
“Ganitong klaseng tao si Papa. May 17 siyang anak sa labas, isang ampon," she said during Dolphy's necrological service at the Heritage Park Memorial Chapel in Taguig City on July 12. “Lahat tayo minahal ni Papa. Lahat tayo napagtugunan niya ng pansin.”
“18 children, saan niya nahugot lahat ng energy at pagmamahal na lahat kami well-provided for all through our lives kahit sa pagtanda namin, lahat naibibigay,” she said, thanking her father and mother Zsa Zsa for the opportunity to study in Melbourne, Australia, where she still lives. — with reports by Aileen Estoquia and Marlon Anthony Tonson, Esq.