When a loved one passes away, the matter of dealing with their last wishes must be handled. As the family grieves, a Thai probate lawyer will gather and help the family negotiate their way through Thai Estate Administration and Probate procedures.
Sadly, there may be instances when the family becomes involved in disputes about the deceased’s Last Will and Testament, further complicating and dragging out an already painful time. Once again, the skills of a Thai Probate lawyer become invaluable to ease and take the burden off the shoulders of the bereaved.
Despite how unpleasant it may seem, planning for the possibility of one’s demise while abroad is something that you have to think about. Considering this, you should ideally have your Last Will & Testament prepared in both your home country and Thailand. The reason for this is that having a Will that covers Thai assets drawn up in your home country will cause delays and complications as it must be translated and submitted for approval to Thailand’s governing body.
Your transactions in Thailand become of value once you sign the contract and make an initial payment, meaning you will already have an asset to consider for your estate planning. A Thai Will covers your assets in Thailand, including personal property, vehicles, bank accounts, and investments.
Upon death in Thailand, a copy of the Will must be provided to the courts by a member of the deceased’s family or their attorney.
Probate is the process whereby the Last Will and Testament of the deceased is reviewed to ensure it is valid and authentic, i.e., drawn up by the deceased while they are of sound mind and body.
Thai probate law is applicable upon the death of a person, and his property and assets are to be divided among their heirs, family members, and any others mentioned in the Will. This is a court-supervised process and is intended to protect the wishes of the deceased and their heirs while complying with Thai laws.
In terms of initiating the transfer of the inheritance in Thailand, a court order must be obtained after proving that the person or persons receiving the inheritance is either a legal heir to the deceased or that they are mentioned by name in the Will.
According to Thai law, in terms of whether a foreigner can inherit from a deceased person in Thailand, a foreigner can inherit property from their spouse, a Thai national. However, a foreigner that inherits property this way can only take ownership of the property after approval from the Minister of The Interior and is subject to certain limits.
For those who own land under a company on a freehold basis, upon your demise, your property would not be physically inherited by your heirs. Instead, the property's value will be converted into shares and distributed accordingly. This can create incredibly complex situations requiring further litigation, yet one more reason to have a Thai Will drafted correctly.
A deceased person's assets in Thailand are transferred in their Will or, if no Will exists, by Estate Administration.
Estate Administration refers to the process of gathering and managing the estate of a deceased who has passed without a Will in place. This includes disbursing any debts and taxes and distributing the remaining property to the heirs.
Traditionally before the estate is distributed among relatives of the deceased, half of the estate will be given to their spouse, should the deceased have married before their passing. The remainder of the estate will be equally distributed among the family accordingly.
According to law, when a person dies intestate or has not executed a valid will, the entire estate is distributed among their heirs.
Under Thai law, there are six classes of statutory heirs. Each class inherits in the following order:
Under certain circumstances, the surviving spouse may also be considered a statutory heir, and there may also be instances of interested persons.
An interested person is defined as a person who has the interests related to the inheritance, such as a wife who did not legally register marriage but has acquired assets in the estate together with the deceased.
If a person passes away with no living relatives or spouse and no Thai will, the estate will fall under the administration of and be absorbed by the State.
In cases of Probate and Estate Administration, a court must approve the legal aspects and validity of the inheritance. It will appoint an executor or administrator to handle the estate’s affairs should the need arise.
The required documents for petitioning the court for the appointment of an administrator or executor of the estate are as follows:
The statutory heirs or the interested persons are eligible to submit the petition to the court for the appointment of Estate Administrator.
In Thailand, the court's authorisation is deemed the final judgment applicable as the confirmation document for estate administration. Whether the deceased had made a Will or not, a petition to the court for the appointment of the estate administrator must first be facilitated.
It is vitally important to have a Thai Last Will and Testament drafted as a foreigner. Thai Probate and Thai Estate Administration laws were put in place to ensure fairness between the heirs of the deceased assets and help alleviate the strain placed on their families and loved ones.
While it may seem harsh that the beneficiaries of the Last Will and Testament will not be able to receive or manage any assets without a court order. It is done for the benefit of the bereaved and to prevent complications and further unhappiness that may occur through family disputes.