Thailand Will and Estate Planning
Wills in Thailand
A last will and testament may be legally recognized in Thailand if it meets certain requirements under Thai law. A Thailand last will and testament may be written in either Thai or English. When the time comes for submission of the will to government authorities or even private entities, such as banks, the will needs to be translated into the Thai language and certified. In general, Thailand recognizes three types of wills: 1) Wills executed (officially signed) before public officials; 2) Holographic Wills—those written by the testator in his own hand without witnesses; 3) Validly witnessed wills that meet specific requirements for witnesses. There is currently no inheritance tax in Thailand.
Trusts in Thailand
Thailand is a civil law jurisdiction and the majority of relevant law is established through Acts and Statutes rather than through case law. There is no current legislation that supports or regulates Thailand trusts. Nevertheless, it is possible for a Thailand estate lawyer to draft private legal instruments that can simulate many aspects of a Trust arrangement. In the case of property held for minors or incapacitated persons, there are other laws that establish a legal framework for the care of these persons and their assets.
Asset Protection Thailand
Dying without a will is called dying “intestate” and means that the court will decide the legal heirs to one’s property and how it will be distributed. The benefit of a will is that it allows you to structure how one’s assets will be distributed rather than having the court make this decision. According to Thai inheritance law, persons dying intestate have six types of heirs, entitled to inherit in the following order: direct descendents; parents; brothers and sisters of full blood; brothers and sisters of half blood; grandparents; and uncles and aunts. The surviving spouse of a legally registered marriage qualifies as a statutory heir, where upon the inheritance will be divided between the spouse and other heirs. Further complicating the distribution of assets is that a surviving Thai wife or husband may qualify for a share of the marital or “community property” of the estate in addition to a share of the estate according to Thai probate law.
Thailand Estate Planning
If a will is made pursuant to foreign law for assets or property in Thailand, it may be invalid in Thailand courts if it does not conform to the Thai law requirements. The estate then passes according to the Thai laws of intestacy. A person having assets, property or residence in Thailand should therefore execute a Thai will by an experienced Thailand estate lawyer. A “Thai will” is a Last Will and Testament that conforms to Thai law, is in the Thai language or has a certified Thai language translation.