Preparing a Thai Will is for various reasons highly recommended for foreigners residing in Thailand. A Will is a legal document where a person expresses his last wishes and choose his heirs (legatees).
In the case of one’s demise without having a Will, the assets of that late person must be distributed in accordance with the Civil and Commercial Code in the following order:
• Brothers and sisters of full blood
• Brothers and sisters of half blood
• Grandfathers and grandmothers
• Uncles and aunts
However, before any of this distribution takes place, half of the assets will belong to the spouse (if the individual was married). The rest of the assets will be distributed appropriately.
If there are no living relatives, the assets will become State property.
The Will should list all the assets at the time of signing the document such as property, bank accounts, vehicles, and personal items among others, the individual(s) who will be appointed as legal executor, the heirs, and how the assets should be allotted between the heirs. The Will should bear the signature of two witnesses in front of whom the foreigner should sign the document.
Upon the death of a foreigner in Thailand, the individual appointed as legal executor must take the original Will to the Thai Court to receive a court order for enforcement of the terms in the Will.
In the event that a foreigner makes a Last Will abroad for properties located in Thailand, the legal executor may receive a Court order for the Will if this is made in a format legally acceptable under Thai law, is translated into Thai language, and notarized by relevant government bodies. However, this may present further problems for the family of the late person so it is highly recommended that the person prepares a Last Will for each county.
Thai law does not require probate of a Thai Last Will and Testaments before it can be enforced, so it’s better to regulate assets located in Thailand through a Thai Last Will and Testament.
Given the latest Thailand inheritance tax and gift tax legislation which have come into force in 2015 and respectively 2016, such tax implications for both testator and heirs require comprehensive attention to the details of Thai and international taxation, including double taxation in case either or both of them are foreign nationals having their estate in Thailand and overseas.