Thai Will and Succession

A Will is a legal document that expresses the decision of an individual as to whom will inherit his or her wealth and what part of the assets will go to who upon death. This will avoid a situation of conflict and confusion after death.

Spouses are statutory heirs and must first receive half of the estate before distribution to other heirs. A lawyer can assist with drafting the Will to ensure it is valid in Thailand.

What is a Will?

A will is a legal document that sets out your wishes regarding the disposal of your property after death. It can include details of your properties, investments, cash assets and company shares. You can also name guardians for any minor children you leave behind. A will must be drafted by a qualified lawyer to ensure it is legally valid. Errors or omissions can cause major problems for your descendants after your death and cost them time and money to contest the Will in court.

Under Thai law, a Will must be in writing and dated at the time of its making. It must be signed by the testator and witnessed by two people who certify that the signature is genuine.

A Living Will is an alternative to a Will that comes into effect when you are terminally ill or unable to communicate your wishes. A Health Care Representative is appointed to oversee your end of life treatment and to press doctors for a clear prognosis.

What happens if you die without a Will?

It is never pleasant or easy to think about death but it is always wise and advisable for a person owning assets in Thailand to make a will. It guarantees that one's last wishes are respected after death and makes succession much easier to settle.

If a person dies without a will, Thai law decides who gets what. The law stipulates that the surviving spouse and children (or legal heirs) will inherit a portion of the estate. The remaining property will be divided amongst the statutory heirs who are classified into six different classes according to section 1629 of the Civil and Commercial Code: 1) descendants; 2) parents; 3) brothers and sisters; 4) half-brothers and half-sisters; 5) grandparents; and 6) uncles and aunts.

Heirs may choose to appoint someone of their choice to be the Executor in a so-called Holograph Will which is the most inexpensive and easiest to contest. However, it is essential that the Executor live in Thailand and travel to Thailand at least twice: once to get appointed by the court and again to obtain the final sentence which is required to take possession of the inheritance.

How do you make a Will in Thailand?

Generally, any written Will is valid in Thailand, however, it must be signed by the testator and witnessed. A Will written by a lawyer is preferred to avoid any future disputes over its authenticity.

The testament must list all the assets owned by the testator, including property, bank accounts and vehicles. Local assets are those located in Thailand, assets abroad should be recorded in a separate testament.

It is also advisable to name an executor and two witnesses, as they will be responsible for collecting and managing the deceased’s estate and paying any taxes or debts. They will also distribute the remaining assets according to the instructions in the Will. If a foreign national is named as an executor, it is advisable that they should employ a law firm to ensure the documents are properly drafted and follow the legal requirements. This will make the process easier and less stressful for family members. It will also help to avoid any potential conflicts of interest in the future.

What happens if you die with a Will?

A Will lets you choose your legal heirs and outlines how you want your property to be distributed. Without a Will the law will determine this and it is likely that part of your estate may end up with someone you do not wish to give anything to.

In Thailand the surviving spouse qualifies as a ‘statutory heir’ (section 1629 of the Civil and Commercial Code). If you have children then they will be the first beneficiaries followed by your parents, siblings, half-siblings, grandparents and aunts and uncles in a specific order outlined by Thai inheritance laws.

You can also make a Living Will in Thailand which outlines your end of life wishes. The document must be hand written, dated and signed in the presence of two witnesses and does not have to be notarized or registered. This document should also be given to your Health Care Representative so that it can be acted on by the hospital in the event of a medical emergency where you cannot communicate and do not wish to be kept alive by artificial means.

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