Notes on Rule 91: Escheat

Rule 91: Escheat
Escheat defined: "Escheat is a proceeding whereby the real and personal property of a deceased person in the Philippines, who died without leaving any will or legal heirs, become the property of the state upon his death."

Nature of Escheat Proceedings
An escheat proceeding rests on the principle of ultimate ownership by the state of all property within its jurisdiction.

Parties in Escheat Proceedings
An escheat proceeding is initiated by the government through the Solicitor General. All interested parties, especially the actual occupants and adjacent lot owners shall be personally notified of the proceeding and given opportunity to present their valid claims; otherwise, it will be reverted to the state.

Requisites for Filing the Petition
[1] A person has died intestate.
[2] He has left properties in the Philippines.
[3] He has left no heirs or persons entitled to the same.

Where to File
Regional Trial Court of the place where the deceased was resident, or in which he had estste, if he was a nonresident.

Parties in a Petition for Escheat
Escheat proceedings must be initiated by the Solicitor General. All interested parties, especially the actual occupant and the adjacent lot owners shall be personally notified of the proceedings and given the opportunity to present their valid claims; otherwise the property will be reverted to the State (Tan vs. City of Davao, G.R. No. L-44347, September 26, 1988).

Notice and Publication (Sec. 2, Rule 91)
[1] Date of hearing not more than 6 months after entry of order.
[2] Publication of order at least once a week for 6 consecutive weeks in newspaper of general circulation in the province.

Publication Jurisdictional
Publication of the notice of hearing is a jurisdictional requisite, non-compliance with which affects the validity of the proceedings (Divino v. Hilario, 62 Phil. 926).Escheat of Unclaimed Balances
Unclaimed balances which include credits or deposits of money, bullion, security or other evidence of indebtedness of any kind, and interest thereon with banks in favor of any person unheard from for a period of ten (10) years of more, together with the interest and proceeds thereof shall be deposited with the Insular Government of the Philippines as the Philippine Legislature may direct (Act No. 3936, Unclaimed Balances Act, Sec. 1).

Action to recover unclaimed balances shall be commenced by the Solicitor General in an action for escheat in the name of the People of the Philippines in the Regional Trial Court of the province where the bank is located, in which shall be joined as parties the bank and such creditors or depositors. All or any member of such creditors or depositors or banks, may be included in one action. (Id., Sec. 3; Republic vs. Court of First Instance of Manila and Pres.. Roxas Rural Bank, Inc., G.R. No. L-30381, August 30, 1988)

Remedy of Respondent against Petition
Motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action. where petition for escheat does not state facts which entitle petitioner to the remedy prayed for (Go Poco Grocery vs. Pacific Biscuit Co., 65 Phil. 443; Rep. vs, PNB, G.R. No. L-16016, Dec. 30, 1961); or other grounds for dismissal under the rules (Municipal Council of San Pedro, Laguna vs. Colegio de San Jose, 65 Phil. 318).

Filing of Claim to Estate (Sec. 4, Rule 91)
Devisees, legatees, widows, widowers or other persons entitled to such estate who appear and file claim thereto within 5 years from date of judgment (Note: 5-year period is prescribed to encourage would-be claimants to be punctilious in asserting their claims, otherwise they may lose them forever in a final judgment.) shall have possession and title thereto or if sold, municipality or city accountable to him for proceeds, after deducting reasonable charges of care of estate. Claims not made within said time are barred forever.