Thailand Inheritance Foreignersí Rights
Drafting a Will in Thailand
Persons including foreigners who have assets in Thailand will require a will that conforms to Thai law. Even if one has a will in his/her home country that lists their foreign assets, the will may not be valid in Thailand. A will that does not conform to Thai law will not be valid in Thailand and therefore a deceased’s estate would pass according the law of intestacy (without a will), rather than the specific instructions provided by the deceased in an invalid will. As a practical matter in litigation, wills become contested. A will drafted in Thailand by a Thai law firm, witnessed by Thai persons, will have a better chance of sustaining objections to its validity in a contested court case. In the case that no Thai will exists, under Thai inheritance law, the probate courts can decide how one’s assets are distributed upon death pursuant to Thai law.
Foreigners as Statutory Heirs in Thailand
Under Thai law, a statutory heir may be a non-Thai as well as a Thai citizen. The Thailand law makes no distinction as to the nationality of the heir’s right. There are special regulations, however, regarding inheritance of real estate by foreigners.
Foreigner’s Inheritance of Land in Thailand
If a foreigner inherits land, normally it will have to be transferred within one year to a Thai national. In the case that the land is not transferred, it may be subject to public auction.
Foreigner’s Inheritance of a Condominium in Thailand
There are two types of condominium units in Thailand: a) condo units that are within a foreign quota; and b) condo units that are not subject to foreign quotas, which are treated similarly to other real estate in Thailand. Condominiums within the foreign quota may be inherited by heirs and do not need to be sold or disposed of by foreign heirs.
Foreigner’s Inheritance of Leasehold Properties in Thailand
Pursuant to Thai law, leases are not inheritable and the lease is terminated at the death of the lessee. However, if the original lease contract specifies that the lease contract is to be inherited by one’s heirs, it is possible to transfer a lease agreement as part of one’s inheritance. Ownership over a house, separate from the land, can be transferred to the heirs separately at the local land office.
Inheritance: Property owned through a limited company
Thai inheritance law provides that the assets of a company maintained by a foreign director and shareholder are not automatically transferred to a statutory heir. The reason for this is because the assets belong to the company and not the individual foreign director or shareholder; the shares of the company are the assets belonging to the descendant’s estate rather than the company assets. If the deceased is the company director, a shareholders meeting must be called and a new director must be appointed. The shares in the company of the deceased must be transferred at the Ministry of Commerce.