Friday, March 30, 2018

How can you correct clerical errors in your birth certificate?

If there are wrong entries in your birth certificate, such as a misspelled first name, birthday or birthplace, there are legal steps to correct these.

Some people have tried to correct their birth certificate by hand, believing that it's the right thing to do, but that is certainly not the way. That would be tampering with an official document, which is punishable by law, even if done with good intention.

Under Philippine law, your legal remedy depends on the kind of error involved. If it is a mere typographical or clerical error, and it involves any of the entries below, then you can file the appropriate affidavit with the Local Civil Registrar (LCR) asking for correction:

  • first name
  • birth month or birth date (but not the year)
  • birthplace
  • sex / gender.
This is known as a proceeding for administrative correction of typographical or clerical errors. It is the LCR who will cause the correction to be made.

Correction of the entry for sex/gender does not refer to sex-change surgery. As mentioned, only clerical or typographical errors can be corrected, so the application must be supported with a certification from an accredited government doctor that the applicant did not undergo sex change or sex transplant. As of today, there is no law in our country allowing change of the entry for sex/gender in the birth certificate arising from sex-change surgery.

When are errors considered clerical or typographical? According to our law, these are mistakes committed in the performance of clerical work in writing, copying, transcribing or typing an entry in the civil register that are harmless and innocuous, and which are visible to the eyes or obvious to the understanding, and can be corrected or changed only by reference to other existing record or records.

These can be corrected by the LCR based on one's affidavit and supporting documents. However, when the errors involve one's surname, birth year, legitimacy status, or nationality, these cannot be decided by the LCR; only a judge can rule on these because these are substantial matters that have far-reaching implications and therefore require presentation of evidence in court. This holds true even when the error in the spelling of a surname is merely typographical; this matter has to come before the judge.

As part of the requirements for administrative correction, you must cause  a notice of your application to be published in a newspaper of general circulation at least once a week for two consecutive weeks.

You also have to present a certified copy of the registry book containing the entry sought to be corrected; at least two public or private documents showing the correct entries; and other relevant documents.

If the wrong entries pertain to one's birth month, birth date (but not the year), or sex / gender, the application must be supported with copies of the earliest school records, medical records, baptismal or other documents issued by religious authorities.

I will write another post dealing with substantial corrections.

RA 9048, RA 10172

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

You can settle your deceased parent's estate without going to court

Has your parent passed away and left a house and lot, vehicle, bank account or shares of stock in his/her name and you as well as your siblings don't know what to do?

These properties form part of your deceased parent's estate which you cannot transact on unless the estate is settled. By "settled", I mean the distribution of the properties to the heirs. As a child of the deceased, your co-heirs would be your surviving parent and your brothers and sisters.

If you are governed by Philippine law, you can settle your deceased parent's estate without going to court if these three requirements under Philippine law are present:

1. There is no last will and testament;
2. There are no debts;
3. You and your co-heirs are all of legal age or, if there are minors, they are represented by their legal representatives.

If these requirements are not present, then you will have to file a court proceeding for settlement of estate.

For those who are citizens of another country or state, you must consult legal counsel on the requirements of your national or state law.

Under Philippine law, you and your co-heirs can execute a document known as "Extra-judicial settlement" (EJS) in which you specify how you would like to divide the estate among yourselves. It is always advisable to consult a Philippine lawyer about this just to make sure that the substance of the EJS complies with the law.

The EJS should be notarized and a copy submitted to the Register of Deeds (RD) where the land or real property is located. You must also post a bond with the RD equivalent to the value of personal property (such as shares of stock, vehicle, bank account and others that are not land, house, condominium unit or real estate). This bond is effective for two years and will answer for claims filed by excluded heirs or creditors.

You also need to publish a notice that the estate has been settled extra-judicially. This is a tiny notice in the classified ads section of a newspaper of general circulation, and it should appear once a week for three consecutive weeks. After three weeks, go to the newspaper company and get the publisher's Affidavit of Publication with three newspaper issues where the notice was published. Newspapers are familiar with this, so you don't have to give a lot of explanation. They will have this ready for you after three weeks.

You can now fill in the Estate Tax Return and submit this to the office of the Bureau of Internal Revenue in the city or municipality where your deceased parent last resided.

The estate tax is 6% based on the net value of the estate with a standard deduction of P5 million and exemption for the first P10 million for the family home.

Once the estate tax return is filed and tax due is paid, if any, the BIR will issue a Certificate of Authority to Register (CAR).

You can now transfer the title to your name and that of your co-heirs as co-owners by submitting these documents to the RD:
  1. Extra-judicial settlement
  2. Affidavit of Publication
  3. Estate tax return as filed with the BIR
  4. Official receipt to prove payment of estate tax, if any
  5. Certificate of Authority to Register.
Until next time!

* By the way, do you already have a copy of my free ebook, TOP 15 PERSONAL & LEGAL DOCUMENTS: KEEP THEM SAFE & FIND THEM EASILY? If not, download your free copy now through this link or send me an email at


Friday, March 09, 2018

You can handwrite your Last Will and Testament

Your Last Will and Testament contains your final wishes about your family, funds, properties, last rites and whatever else you would like to say to your loved ones and others. If it is handwritten, it is called a Holographic Will. If typewritten, it is  known as a Notarial Will in the Philippines, or simply a Typewritten Will in other countries and states, which we will discuss in another post.

Under Philippine law, you can handwrite your Will without needing any witness, and without appearing before a notary public. As a Filipino, you may write your Holographic Will in another country as long as you follow the requirements of Philippine law. These are:

a. Your entire Will must be in your own handwriting;
b. It should be in a language that you truly know and understand;
c. You must put a date on it;
d. You must sign it at the end.
e. If there are alterations, you must put your full signature on the altered portions.

It is also best to number each paragraph, and to write the page number on every page, although these are not required for the validity of a Holographic Will.

If you change your entire Will and replace it with a new one, the best thing is to burn or tear up the old one. This is because under Philippine law, this is a clear way of expressing your intention to revoke the old Will. It is also best to state in your present Will that you are revoking your prior Will. If you do not do this, your old Will may still be considered valid and its contents be proven in court later on. This might just lead to confusion.

If you are not a Philippine citizen and you'd like to execute a Holographic Will, I advise you to consult legal counsel to make sure that it is allowed in your jurisdiction, and to know what the requirements are.

This discussion is about the form of a Last Will. Legally, we refer to this as "formal validity." You should be concerned about another matter, which we call "intrinsic validity" of the contents of your Will. There are specific legal requirements about this, so I would highly suggest that you consult legal counsel to make sure that the dispositions in your Will are valid.

Till next time!


Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Critical illness insurance - for your peace of mind

When I had a heart attack two years ago, the first question on my mind was - what will happen to my children? They were ages 20 and 18 at that time, still in college, and since I was then a widow, I asked God to please let me stay for many more years for my sons, and to let me see my future grandchildren and great grandchildren, by His grace. My heart doctor told me to prepare for angioplasty and possibly a heart bypass depending on what they see when an angiogram is done.

I went home with one stent after an angioplasty, and praised God (praising Him until now) for the turn-out. My health card took care of some expenses, and the rest was through my savings, and the kindness of close relatives and friends. Needless to say, it was a substantial expense for something so unexpected. It was close to half a million pesos!!!

I did not know about critical illness insurance coverage then, and had I known about it, I would have gotten one. Now I just learned about this from a friend, Ms. Icang Quinto, and I have no hesitation in informing you all about this because it is such a wise move.

Also known as dread disease insurance, this will surely give you peace of mind. Do watch the video above and if you want more information, send me an email at

By the way, my heart condition is much better now. Also, I remarried shortly after the incident, which makes things even way better. :)

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Three tips on how to know if it's legally safe to buy a house, lot or condominium unit

Having your own home - this is almost everyone's dream, whether you're thinking of  a house and lot, a condominium unit or a more novel living space.

You may be a young professional, single or married, an overseas worker, or perhaps in the middle of growing your career, or even looking towards retirement. Your desire is to have your own space.

How do you legally protect yourself when buying a home?

1. Are you buying from the registered owner?

You'll know this by checking the title to the property. For lots located in the Philippines, look for the Original Certificate of Title (OCT), or Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT). For condominium units, get a copy of the Condominium Certificate of Title (CCT).


Check the names appearing as registered owners, and this will show you if you are dealing with the proper persons. Secure a copy and verify it with the Register of Deeds (RD), and examine every page of the title that is on file with the RD because that is the latest and most updated one that reflects all transactions involving the property.

2. If you're dealing with a representative, is he / she duly authorized by the owner?

Some owners do not deal directly with the buyers because they are too busy, they are out of the country, or they would rather entrust the details of the transaction to a real estate agent or someone they trust. In any case, it will be safe for you to ask for a Special Power of Attorney (SPA) signed by the property owner (the principal) naming a specific person as his or her representative (the agent).

Examine the contents of the SPA so that you will know the extent of authority given by the property owner. Is it to sign the Deed of Sale on the owner's behalf, or just to negotiate? Did the owner authorize the representative to receive partial payment, or even full payment, or merely to cause the payment to be deposited to a specified bank account? Is the authority of the representative limited to a specific period of time? These are all important details.

Some people ask me if a SPA is valid even when the owner has passed away. The answer is no. Legally, the SPA automatically loses its effect when the principal passes away. In that case, the persons to deal with are the heirs.

3. Have the real property taxes been paid? Is the title clean?

There is an annual tax paid to the local government unit where the property is located, if you are buying in the Philippines. This is the real  property tax or what we call "amelyar". Ask the seller for a copy of the tax declaration and the latest real property tax receipt, so you will know if there are outstanding liabilities to the government. Best to require the owner to settle this with the local government during your negotiations, before finalizing your sales transaction.

You'd want to buy property with a clean title. By clean title, I mean the title is not mortgaged or there is nobody making a claim against it. To verify this, you can get a certified copy from the Register of Deeds and examine the whole title including the portion known as "Memorandum of Encumbrances". This is where transactions and claims on the property are recorded. Here you will see if the property was mortgaged and released, and if there is any adverse claim, or if the property is involved in a court case. You will know that there is a court case if there is a "notice of lis pendens" recorded in the memorandum of encumbrances.

If there is a mortgage, an adverse claim or a court case, you would be buying the property subject to the outcome of these.

Once convinced that the title is clean, the representative is duly authorized, and all taxes have been settled, you can focus on negotiating on the terms of purchase.

I hope you find this post helpful. I invite you to join our Forum on Family Matters for more legal tips on how to keep your family, funds and properties secure and in order so you can enjoy peace of mind. Just click this link. See you there.