DEALING WITH DEATH IN THAILAND
Dealing with a death overseas can be a complicated matter but it does not always have to be. Going through the legal proceedings with regards to official documents and the executing of a will is a complex task in itself but doubly so when in a foreign country. There are many decisions that have to be made and procedures you will need to go through, such as the shipping of the body or a funeral service locally, getting the proper documents; death certificate etc. and then sending them to be processed in their country of origin and executing an estate whether both locally and abroad or separately.
The shipping of a body from Thailand to abroad say the United Kingdom is very expensive, in many cases a local funeral service is arranged where the body is cremated with the ashes going back to the deceased country of origin. But before this can happen you will need to deal with the formalities such as death certificate which is processed by the hospital and sent to the district government office where you will need to pick them up. Which district depends on whether the deceased has a permanent address whereby the documents will be sent there, if not then the documents will be sent to the district where they passed away.
After this is done then the process of executing an estate can begin, this process is dependent on whether a will exists or not. If there is a will then you will need to bring that along with the death certificate to submit in a Thai court which will then appoint an administrator to the estate as per the will. If there is no will then the administrator will be in order of; spouse, children or the closest living relative.
Before the estate can be executed the death certificate along with the court order appointing the administrator will then need to be submitted and processed in the probate court in the home country of the deceased. A translation of the local documents needs to be made and certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here in Thailand. This process is to validate the death and administration rights in their home country after which the administrator will then be able to handle the local estate and execute the wishes of the deceased as stipulated by the will.
Many foreigners here normally have two wills for Thailand and back home and this is the process of executing a will here locally. Administration rights can be extended to estate located overseas if there is no other will present. Having two wills can cause problems down the line and it is best to check with a legal professional what will be the outcome if a dispute were to take place.
Over all dealing with the legal processes of a death in the family or of a friend is an arduous and time consuming process, but can be eased with the help of professional experts who know what they are doing and can leave you free to deal with what is truly important. If you have your own case or any questions regarding law in Thailand please feel free to write in to us and we will answer any questions or concerns in this column.