Although it is not pleasant to think about passing away, it is crucial to ensure that your affairs are in order and that you have your Last Will and Testament in place in both your home country and in Thailand. It is imperative to think about your loved ones and to whom you would like to distribute your estate upon your demise.
Under the Thai Succession Law, when a person dies in Thailand their estate is passed onto their heirs either by their Last Will & Testament or if they don’t have one then by Statutory Right which is in accordance with the Civil & Commercial Code of Thailand (Book VI: Title II Statutory Right of Inheritance sections 1620-1645).
Under the Thai law an heir who has been named in a Will is called a ‘legatee’ whereas an heir who is so entitled according to statutory right is called a ‘statutory heir’ under the provision of section 1603 of the Civil & Commercial Code of Thailand.
In accordance with the Thai Succession Law, if the deceased before his or her demise did not make his or her Last Will & Testament, the law of intestacy rules will determine what happens to the deceased’s assets when they die. Under the Thai Succession Law, this generally means that the assets will be distributed amongst the statutory heirs. Under section 1629 of the Civil and Commercial Code of Thailand there are 6 classes of statutory heirs and they are entitled to inherit in the following order:
- brothers and sisters of full blood
- brothers and sisters of half-blood
- uncles and aunts
The surviving spouse is a statutory heir, subject to the special provisions of Section 1635 of Civil and Commercial Code.
The distribution of the deceased’s assets in the absence of a Will is that the Thai Succession Law will designate intestate heirs and so long as there is an heir surviving in one of the classes, the heir of the lower class has no entitlement to share in the assets. The one exception is where there is a descendant and a parent in which case they take an equal share (section 1630). If there is more than one heir in any one class, they take an equal share of the entitlement available to that class. The surviving spouse is a statutory heir but their entitlement depends on what other class of statutory heir exists. If there are surviving children of the deceased, the spouse and children take the estate between them. Therefore, for instance, if there are three children, then the estate is divided into four equal shares.
In the situation where the deceased made a Will to pass his or her assets to specific person(s) under the Will then only the person(s) named in the Will shall be entitled to those assets and that all the 6 classes of statutory heirs are automatically dismissed from the entitlement to the deceased’s assets.
International Business Consultants strongly recommend that you seek legal advice and urge you to make a Thai Will to ensure that your remaining family are cared for and not embroiled in complicated legal mechanisms upon your demise.
Property and your Thai Will
With regard to ‘owning’ a property under leasehold, please note that the lease is a personal right and it is not attached to the property meaning that the lease is terminated when the lessee dies. However, a renewable long term lease and advance rental payment allow you to transfer your right of the lease to your heir(s) provided that there is a specific clause to effect this intention in the lease agreement you have signed. Otherwise, upon your demise the lease will be terminated and the lessor is entitled to resume the property.
Property laws in Thailand are very involved, and the entire process can be complicated and costly if you do not seek proper legal advice and have precautions in place. It is essential to secure investments and to minimize any risks that may occur in the future.
Always seek expert advice from a professional who can clearly understand your needs and who can protect your best interests.