Chapter 5: Effect of Absence Upon the Contingent Rights of the Absentee (Title XIV, Book I, Civil Code)

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Article 393. Whoever claims a right pertaining to a person whose existence is not recognized must prove that he was living at the time his existence was necessary in order to acquire said right. (195)
Article 394. Without prejudice to the provision of the preceding article, upon the opening of a succession to which an absentee is called, his share shall accrue to his coheirs, unless he has heirs, assigns, or a representative. They shall all, as the case may be, make an inventory of the property. (196a)


1) Rules on rights contingent on the absentee being alive or dead.

a. Claimants. Claimants who have rights pertaining to an absentee has to prove that the absentee was alive at the time that was necessary to acquire such rights. The part concerning the absentee “whose existence is not recognized” may relate to those who are presumed dead. If they are presumed dead, then their existence in terms of being alive, is not recognized. That’s why claimants whose rights are contingent on absentees must prove that the absentees were alive at that critical point to acquire rights.

b. Co-heirs.

General Rule: If there are no claimants, the shares of the absentee shall accrue to the co-heirs.

Exception: The absentee has heirs, assigns, or a representative.

NB: Claimants take precedence over co-heirs should the absentee’s estate be opened for succession.

2) Duty to make inventory. The ones who are required to make an inventory are all of the foregoing, namely:

(a) Claimants;

(b) Co-heirs;

(c) Absentee’s heirs, assigns, or representative.

a. Same; Rationale. The reason for making in the inventory is that there is that possibility of re-appearance by an absentee who has been presumed dead.

Article 395. The provisions of the preceding article are understood to be without prejudice to the action of petition for inheritance or other rights which are vested in the absentee, his representatives or successors in interest. These rights shall not be extinguished save by lapse of time fixed for prescription. In the record that is made in the Registry of the real estate which accrues to the coheirs, the circumstance of its being subject to the provisions of this article shall be stated. (197)


1) Petition for inheritance and other rights. The rules on rights contingent on the absentees being alive or dead will not affect any action/petition for inheritance or other rights that may have been vested in the absentees (prior or during absence but before being declared presumptively dead), their representatives, or their successors-in-interest.

a. Same; Non-extinguishable except for prescription. The rights mentioned in the immediately preceding paragraph are non-extinguishable – except if for prescription, i.e., expiration of the cause of action.

2) Recording with the Registry of Deeds. For the absentee’s share on real estate which accrues to the heirs, the circumstances leading to such shall be recorded in the Registry of Deeds which has jurisdiction over the property. This is to serve as a cautionary notice to the public, particularly for any would-be buyer or creditor, as there is that possibility that the absentee may reappear in the future. Recording in the Registry of Deeds is notice to the whole world.

a. Same; Section 52 of PD 1529: “Constructive notice upon registration. Every conveyance, mortgage, lease, lien, attachment, order, judgment, instrument or entry affecting registered land shall, if registered, filed or entered in the office of the Register of Deeds for the province or city where the land to which it relates lies, be constructive notice to all persons from the time of such registering, filing or entering.”

“By virtue of registration, a constructive notice to the whole world of such voluntary or involuntary instrument or court writ or processes, is thereby created.” (Saberon v. Ventanilla, Jr., G.R. No. 192669, 21 April 2014)

Article 396. Those who may have entered upon the inheritance shall appropriate the fruits received in good faith so long as the absentee does not appear, or while his representatives or successors in interest do not bring the proper actions. (198)


1) Rules on fruits of inheritance.

a. General Rule: The heirs, assigns, or any other persons who have entered upon the inheritance have the right to appropriate fruits received in good faith from what they may have inherited or received. For instance, rents due to lease or actual fruits from harvests.

b. Exception: Such rights will cease or stop when the absentees appear, or their representatives or successors-interest bring proper action in court.


• Title XIV – Absence, Book I, Civil Code


/Updated: April 24, 2023

Disclaimer: All information is for educational and general information only. These should not be taken as professional legal advice or opinion. Please consult a competent lawyer to address your specific concerns. Any statements or opinions of the author are solely his own and do not reflect that of any organization he may be connected.

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