Inheritance in Thailand is not as straightforward as it might seem. A proper last will drafted by a lawyer can minimise the difficulties.
In case of death without a will, your property and assets are allocated to the statutory heirs (depending on classes). A well-drafted Will allows you to choose your Legal Heirs, choose Administrator and Guardians for minor children and provide for Donations/Legs.
Distribution of Assets
Many countries have what is known as forced heirship whereby the law determines who gets your estate after your death. This includes countries such as France, Italy, Japan and most Arabic nations. Thailand, however does not have this type of system. It does have an estate distribution regime outlined in section 1599 of the Civil and Commercial Code (“CCC”).
If you die without a Will, the law will decide who will inherit your assets. Spouses are statutory heirs and will receive half of the deceased person’s estate before any other heirs will be given anything.
It is recommended that both you and your Thai partner make a will. This will ensure that the property you own in your home country is not at risk of being taken by family members after your death. A lawyer can advise you on how to structure your will in a way that will protect your assets in Thailand and your home country.
When a person dies without a valid will (or with a will that covers only part of their estate) they are said to have died intestate. In that case, the deceased’s assets are handed over to probate courts who determine beneficiaries and allocate assets according to Thai law. Typically, property goes to a spouse first, then children, and then extended family and descendants. If no heirs can be found, the property reverts to the State.
In cases where the heirs live outside of Thailand, getting their inheritance can be very difficult. It is advisable for the heirs to in full trust nominate somebody residing in Thailand as their Executor. However, this will require the nominee to remain in Thailand several months and to come back for two visits: one to obtain the nomination from the court and another to get the Final Sentence Certificate.
This can add a lot of extra legal costs to the inheritance process. Having a well-drafted Will is the best way to avoid these additional expenses and ensure that your loved ones receive the inheritance you wish for them.
Many foreigners living in Thailand don’t give a thought to preparing a Will. However, this is a very important document that will save your family from a lot of stress and expenses after your death.
A will identifies the legal heirs and stipulates how your assets will be distributed after your death. In the event there is no will, succession will be governed by intestate law. Intestate succession is ruled by the law in Book VI of the Civil and Commercial Code. The statutory heirs include descendants, parents; spouse; brothers and sisters of full blood; uncles and aunts; half brothers and sisters.
A Will also allows you to leave a share of your estate to a charity of your choice. However, the Will must be filed with the Thai courts. A will can be contested in court by family members who do not agree with the terms of the testament. In this case a lawyer is required to assist you in presenting strong arguments and evidence.
If a person passes away without a will in Thailand, their assets will be distributed according to Thai Inheritance law. The heirs are classified into six different categories: descendants; parents; full blood brothers and sisters; half-blood brothers and sisters; grandparents; and aunts and uncles.
Under this situation, the surviving spouse will be awarded a minimum of one-half of the deceased’s estate (community property or Sin Somros) as a statutory heir. However, the remaining half will be distributed to other relatives according to Thai inheritance law.
The will can be contested by family members who disagree with the terms and conditions stated in the document. This can be difficult for a foreigner living in Thailand because the process must be conducted in a court of law. A Will can only be contested within a reasonable period of time after the death of the testator. A well-drafted Will by a competent Thai lawyer should avoid any contestation of the document after death.