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Thailand - Wills

It is recommended that you have a will for both your assets in Thailand and any that you hold in your home country. If you were to die in Thailand a government officer requests a copy of any will either from the family or the lawyer of the deceased. It is not a good idea to expect your existing will to cover any property in Thailand as this can make the process of probate into a lengthy and costly one. It is recommended to hire a lawyer to deal with creating a will if you own property in more than one country. This will ensure that your wills will not overlap and cause any problems after you die.

If you should die without a will while you are in Thailand, your assets are distributed according to the law in Thailand and this means that family members are given priority. Half of the estate will automatically be passed to the spouse and then the rest will be divided first among the children, then to surviving parents, then full-blood brothers and sisters, then half-blood brothers and sisters, then grandparents and finally aunts and uncles. If you should die with no will and there is no family, then the state has the right to take all your property and sell it as it sees fit.

The most common type of will is known as a ‘last will’. This is signed by the testator when the will is drafted and as in the UK, must be witnessed by 2 independent people, who certify that the signature is that of the testator. Most lawyers will provide foreign-born nationals with a copy in English as well as Thai. This will can also be made at the local district offices and a declaration can be made to a public officer working there. In order to do this the testator must be able to speak some Thai as a declaration must be made as to the contents of the will. The official will need to read this back to the testator and the witnesses who will sign the will in front of the officer.

If the testator prefers, the will can be created at the district office as a secret document. The testator will seal the document and sign it before giving it to the official. This type of will also needs to have two witnesses as to the signature of the testator. The will remains sealed until after your death when it is opened by officials and processed in the same way that other wills are.

A valid word of mouth will can be created in exceptional circumstances. If a person is close to death then they can verbally state their wishes and this should be noted by the witnesses present. In addition, a testator can create their own will in writing. This is known as a holographic will and should include the date that it was created, be in the own handwriting of the testator and show his own signature. It should be noted that while this is a legally recognized will, it can also cause more problems at a later date if the correct information has not been included. It is a good idea to consult a legal expert before writing your own will.

Only those who are aged 15 and over are able to have a will or be a witness to the will of another person and all wills need to have an executor. If the court determines that the will is not valid then the estate will be disposed of according to Thai law.

When the will is needed there are two ways in which officials can process this. The first is to have an executor appointed to ensure that all the paperwork is correct and then the estate can be wound up. The second method is to submit the will to a court in Thailand and have an executor appointed by the court. This second method is costly and can take some time to complete. If you are foreign-born then you will need to have an administrator appointed to the estate as there are additional legal procedures. Formal authorization is required for the disposal of the estate of an expat.

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