Inheritance law
last will and testament

The Thai legal system of inheritance is codified and can be found in the civil and commercial 'Book V Succession'. It among others governs the distribution and administration of the estate of a person after his death, how to make a valid will in Thailand (Title III 'Wills'), and determines what happens to a person's assets after death when there is no last will made.

Succession under Thai inheritance laws

The chapter 'statutory right of inheritance' contains the laws of descent and distribution of the estate when there is no last will and testament made by the decedent. Pursuant to section 1629 of the civil code there are 6 classes of statutory heirs in Thailand and they are entitled to inherit in the following chronological order:

  • descendants 
  • parents
  • brothers and sisters of full blood
  • brothers and sisters of half blood
  • grandparents
  • uncles and aunts
The surviving spouse of the deceased is a statutory heir in accordance with a special provision in the civil code, section 1635.

Making a will in Thailand

By making a last will and testament the testator outlines his final wishes and what he wants to do with his possessions after his death. For the testator it is important to observe the legal requirements, as codified in the 'Title III Wills', book 5 of the civil code, in order to make a valid last will or testament in Thailand. The following 'forms of wills' are accepted in Thailand, that is, a will made pursuant the chapter 'forms of wills' in the civil code:

A registered will as a 'secret document'

Thai nationals and other Thai speaking nationals with residency in Thailand can make last will according to section 1660 'as a secret document' registered with the local municipality.

Section 1660: A will may be made by a secret document, that is to say:
  1. the testator must sign his name on the document;
  2. he must close up the document and sign his name across the place of closure;
  3. he must procure the closed document before the Kromakarn Amphoe and at least two other persons as witnesses and declare to all of them that it contains his testamentary disposition; and if the testator has not written with his own hand the whole text of the document he must state the name and domicile of the writer;
  4. after the Kromakarn Amphoe has noted down upon the cover of the document the declaration of the testator and the date of the production and has affixed his seal thereupon, the Kromakarn Amphoe, the testator and the witnesses must sign their names thereon.

A registered will as a 'registered public document'

A will may also be made as a registered document (section 1658) with the local municipality (i.e. the Kromakarn Amphoe). The testators states his wishes to the assigned government official (competent authority) who writes down the testators last will in Thai script. The official must again read it to the testator (in Thai language) who then must sign the last will drawn up by the public officer.

Section 1658. A will may be made by public document, that is to say:
  1. the testator must declare to the Kromakarn Amphoe before at least two other persons as witness present at the same time what dispositions he wishes to be included in this will;
  2. the Kromakarn Amphoe must note down such declaration of the testator and read it to the latter and to the witnesses;
  3. the testator and the witnesses must sign their names after having ascertained that the statement noted down by the Kromakarn Amphoe corresponds with the declaration made by the testator;
  4. the statement noted down by the Kromakarn Amphoe shall be dated and signed by such official who shall certify under his hand and seal that the will has been made in compliance with the foregoing Subsections 1 to 3.
No erasure, addition or other alternation in such will is valid unless signed by the testator, the witness and the Kromakarn Amphoe.

A private will as a 'unregistered written document'

The most common will in Thailand is a written and witnessed last will and testament according to section 1656 of the Civil and Commercial Code.

Section 1656: A will may be made in the following form, that is to say, it must be in writing, dated at the time of making, dated at the time of making of the will and signed by the testator before at least two witnesses present at the same time who shall then and there sign their names certifying the signature of the testator. No erasure, addition or other alteration is valid unless made in the same form as prescribed by this section.

Making a last will in Thailand as a foreigner

Foreigners closely connected with Thailand (having their habitual residence in Thailand and for example married to a Thai national) can make a will in Thailand under Thai law for their assets and could designate the law of Thailand to govern the succession of their (Thailand) estate. The 'Thai Last Will' could also include a limited jurisdiction clause, limiting the effect of the will specifically to assets located in Thailand. Foreigners who are not closely connected to Thailand, other than for example owning a condo (owning property), cannot make a Thai will. If you make a Thai will you must ensure that your foreign will excludes Thailand and that any subsequent last will you make in another country does not supersede the testamentary dispositions under your Thai will.

What to include in the will

You want to make a specific or general will but are not sure where to start? The list below includes the kind of information you need to consider.

Personal information of the testator

  • Full name, date of birth, address, nationality, passport number of the testator;
  • Details of the heirs, full names, dates of birth, address, nationality, substitutes in case the heir(s) predecease the testator;
  • Executor of the will (the job of an executor is to administer your estate);
  • Names and addresses of executors (most married people choose their spouse as the executor if they are giving their entire estate to their spouse). You can appoint one executor and a substitute executor if the executor predecease, however they must be appointed by the court;
  • Witnesses of the will;
  • Full name and details of ID-card or passport of the witnesses;
  • Possible funeral requirements (what should happen to your body when you die).

Specific legacies

  • money or property that you give to someone specific after you die (not included in a general will)
  • do you wish to give any jewelery cash legacies? If so state amount of gift, full name and address of legatees (including charities).

Other

  • Do you want to appoint guardians for your minor children in Thailand?
  • Do you leave immovable property in Thailand to a minor?
  • Do you want a limited jurisdiction clause (that is, your will should relate solely your assets in Thailand)?
  • Do you have a current will?

It is recommended to keep a list of assets and liabilities in Thailand together with a copy of your will. The schedule could include details of the house, contents, car, jewelery, cash at bank, quoted stocks, shares, partnership shares, shares (e.g in a private limited company), other assets or liabilities in Thailand.

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Tags: heir, will