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A Well-Ordered Estate - Organizing Your Assets and Paperwork Prior to Estate Planning or Death
Why You should do
an Inventory of Your Assets
1.1. Why YOU should do an inventory of
1.You should do an inventory of your assets to know:
•what your assets are
•if the title of the asset is registered in your name, and
•how much or what percent of the asset is owned by you (in cases of co-owned property)
Let me narrate a common story which could very well be your own story:
•You, your wife, and children have lived in your home for decades. Your father lived in the same house since his birth. You were born and grew up in the same house.
•When you got married, you continued to live in the house with your wife, your children, and your parents. You took care of your parents.
•When they were living, both your parents had repeatedly told you that when they die, you would inherit the house. After several years, your mother died and then within one year, your father also died.
•You always understood that the property was 100% yours.
•While going through the papers of your father after his death, you found the title to the land where your house is built.
•You discovered that the land is in the name of your great-grandparents (on the paternal side), who died more than 100 years ago.
•You found out that the estate tax was not paid upon the death of your great-grandfather. When your great-grandmother died, her estate was not settled and the estate tax was also not paid.
•Your grandfather and his siblings died one by one. No one bothered to settle their respective estates and pay the estate taxes.
•Then your own parents died and you too did not settle their estates or pay any estate taxes on their assets.
•You realized that your home was not transferred and passed down through the generations to your father and from him to you.
•In short, your residence is not yours to call your own.
•You decided to fix the problem and you hired a lawyer to find out what it would take to have the title to the ancestral home transferred to your name.
•After studying the facts, your lawyer informed you that you are not the sole owner of the property. He also told you that you only owned a very small share, together with dozens of relatives. These relatives are all the descendants of your paternal great-grandparents.
•Counting all the descendants, the lawyer told you that you only owned 1/6002 of the ancestral home and not the 600/600, which was what you imagined all along.
•Because so many relatives have died, counted from the person whose name appears on the title, you were told that you will have to settle several estates and that—
oestate taxes are based on the tax rate applicable at the time of the deaths of each of your deceased relatives.
For some of your deceased relatives, estate taxes may not be the only tax to be paid, because from July 1, 1939 to December 31, 1972, both estate tax and inheritance tax were imposed.
othe estate tax rates ranged from 10% (starting July 1, 1939-September 14, 1950) up to as high as 60% (January 1, 1973–July 27, 1992)
oa 25% surcharge on the tax due may be assessed because the estate taxes were not paid on time; and
oover and above the surcharge, interest at 20% per year may also be charged
•To complicate matters, you approached your siblings and other relatives to clear up the matter of your ownership of the ancestral home.
•You asked your relatives to recognize your sole ownership of the property by reason of your residence in said house for decades.
•You also told them that your great-grandfather
promised that the property would go to your grandfather, who committed that it would go to your father, who then assured you that it would pass down to you.
•Instead of agreeing to recognize you as the sole owner of the ancestral house, your relatives met and decided to sell the house to the highest bidder.
•Your relatives, who own 599/600 of the property,
decided to sell what is your home at a price you cannot afford to match.
oThe upside is that, as a co-owner of the ancestral home, you will receive 1/600ths of the proceeds.
oThe downside is that now, you will become homeless.
•It is also entirely possible that the estate and inheritance taxes (where applicable), were actually paid by your father and that the property was cleared by the BIR for transfer to you.
•However, your father failed to follow through with the other steps and—
ohe failed to transfer the title with the Registrar of Deeds; and
ohe failed to transfer the tax declaration of the property.
•Now you cannot transfer the title and tax declaration because you—
ohave no proof that the estate taxes were ever paid; and
othe BIR, too, cannot locate the clearance among its piles of paper.
•You may think these stories stretch the imagination. They are not fiction and unfortunately, they illustrate very common situations which are repeated over and over again.
2.Another reason to do an inventory of your assets and existing paperwork is to confirm that you remain the owner of your assets. This is particularly relevant in the case of agricultural land.
•Many landowners are effectively deprived of their agricultural land without having any notice or knowledge of their taking pursuant to the evolving land reform laws.
•Land reform has effectively transferred a considerable amount of wealth and land from the hacienderos and other big land owners to the tenant farmers.
•The original titles to your agricultural land kept in your safe may appear to be clear of any annotations, encumbrances, or notices.
•However, when you request for a certified true copy of your title from the Register of Deeds, you may get a nasty surprise.
•You may discover that the agricultural land you inherited from your ancestors is now covered by land reform.
•What you thought was your agricultural land is now owned by your tenants and/or their children. Your portion of the land may have been greatly reduced from 200 hectares to only 7 hectares, or even to zero.
•Many absentee landowners do not realize that large tracts of agricultural land have already been covered by land reform and transferred or sold to their tenants.
•Your former tenants may already be paying for the land directly to the Land Bank. The Land Bank, in turn, was supposed to be paying you for the land which the tenant now owns.
•You may only realize you have lost a large chunk of what was once your agricultural land when you see this annotation on a newly requested certified true copy of your title:
•Again, this situation is not rare.
3.Another reason why it is good to do an inventory of your assets and the supporting paperwork is to make sure the information in your titles, tax declarations, and other documentation is correct in all respects, and is up to date.
•You may realize that the title of your real property:
ohas been declared lost and transferred to your brother pursuant to a forged Deed of Sale
ohas misspelled your name to “Lano” instead of ”Llanos,” or it is spelled “Santis” instead of “Santos”;
ohas your middle initial typed out as a “T.” instead of “D.”
ostates that your husband is the sole owner and his status is single when you in fact inherited this property from your father, or
ois still annotated with a mortgage even if the loan has already been paid
•You may also uncover that the tax declaration for your land or building:
owas never changed and is still in the name of the previous owner
ois only for the land and you do not have a tax declaration for the building or improvement because you did not declare the building to the City Assessor
oindicates that your improvement/house has a much smaller area than the actual area. For example, the tax declaration states that the total area of the house is 100 square meters when it is really 450 square meters
oindicates the value for the old house which was demolished years ago. It does not reflect the value for the much bigger and newer house
ofails to include a swimming pool or a cabana or guesthouse, and...