MAKING A WILL IN THAILAND
Here in Thailand making a will is a simple and straight forward process, but it can take on many forms and may become a little bit confusing. First of all a will should be in writing which is dated and signed by the testator – which is the title of whom the will belongs to. It must also be witnessed by two people – who should not benefit from the will directly by being a beneficiary. This form of will is a private document, which is legally standing but any changes to the will requires the revocation of the previous will. Only the latest legal will is considered valid under Thai law.
A will may also be made by a public document, through the local district chief or (nai umphur) by declaration to the district chief before two other persons as witnesses. This form of will is certified and sealed under the name of the district chief and any changes must also be made through a revocation and new declaration which again must be recertified.
If you are a foreigner and have executed a will under the law of your home country or in another country other than Thailand, it is still recognized under Thai law. Take for example; the case of an Australian national who had made a will in England around 10 years ago and then moved here to Thailand where he had later passed away. The will that was made is still enforceable here in Thailand if it is still currently valid under Australian, English, or Thai law.
If you pass away and do not have a will then “intestate succession” will determine who will receive your possessions. First off any property owned with a spouse deemed as “marital property” is equally divided between your spouse and your estate. This “marital property” which does not include possessions that belonged to you before marriage is divided before your estate is split again. This second split is made under the Civil and Commercial Code of Thailand, which is used to determine who your statutory heirs are. Relatives who are eligible to inherit your estate are as follows:
3. Full Brothers and Sisters
4. Half Brothers and Sisters
6. Uncles and Aunts
Most cases end with the more important and highly ranked heirs splitting the estate equally whilst the lower ranked heirs receive nothing. For example if the deceased did not have a spouse and any children but living parents, then they would divide the estate equally between the two of them whilst the rest of the relatives are excluded.
Our comment: If you have not made a will the estate will be executed following the law, but if you have a will you can give whatever you want to whomever you wish to give it to. You can also change and update your will but be aware that you will have to revoke the previous one every time. The meaning of this is that if you change your mind in deciding whom to pass on your estate to, you can change your mind a 1,000 times before you die. Just one thing to remember about making a will is that you need to be in good health to make it, if you are in hospital then a doctor is required to write a letter saying you are of sound mind. Another benefit of making a will is that you can chose the lawyer of your choice to can take care of your estate and your will while you are still alive and you can tell him what you wish you want to be done. 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.