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Are you an expat living in Thailand or a Thai citizen who wants to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you pass away?
Writing and filing a last will and testament is an essential part of estate planning that can help you achieve this goal.
When writing a will in Thailand, list all assets, consult a lawyer to ensure legality, and choose beneficiaries.
It is best to draft it in Thai and English, sign with two witnesses, and update the will as circumstances change to protect your legacy and ensure it reflects your wishes.
The process can be daunting, especially if you’re not familiar with the laws and regulations in Thailand. That’s why we’ve created this comprehensive guide!
Here, we’ll provide you with a step-by-step roadmap to ensure that your legacy is protected and your loved ones are taken care of. So, let’s get started on securing your future and crafting your lasting legacy in Thailand.
Essential Things to Know and Do Before Creating a Will
1. The will is important to protect your assets, among other things.
Creating a will is crucial to protect and preserve your life’s work and ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes, leaving your loved ones with peace of mind during a difficult time.
Without a Thai will, the Civil and Commercial Code will determine how assets are distributed among relatives in order of priority.
The list starts with the following:
- Full-Blooded Siblings
- Half-Blooded Sibling
- Uncles And Aunts
Keep in mind that half of the estate (called Sin Somros) goes to the spouse before the other half is divided equally among other relatives.
2. You can choose to write your own will or get a lawyer to help you out.
Deciding whether to write your own will or hire a lawyer is a big decision that requires careful consideration.
While writing your own will can save money, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.
Here, we’ll explore the pros and cons of both options to help you make an informed decision.
Should you write your own will or hire a lawyer?
3. Your local assets in Thailand should be detailed in your will.
It’s essential to understand how to handle both local and overseas assets. Local assets refer to any property or assets located within Thailand, while overseas assets are those located outside of the country.
When it comes to handling local assets, there are some things to keep in mind:
- Include a detailed inventory of all assets in the will, including real estate, bank accounts, investments, and personal belongings.
- Specify how these assets should be distributed and to whom.
- For overseas assets, consult with a lawyer who has experience in cross-border estate planning. This is because different countries have different laws regarding inheritance and taxes.
- Keep all documents related to overseas assets up to date, including property deeds, bank statements, and investment portfolios. This will help ensure a smooth distribution of assets and minimise the risk of disputes or legal issues.
NOTE: A lawyer can help ensure that the will complies with both Thai and foreign laws, and that all necessary taxes are paid.
4. Thailand has a law regarding palliative care.
In Thailand, people have the right to make decisions about their medical treatment, including the right to refuse life-sustaining treatment.
The Thai government also recognizes the importance of palliative care, which is the care given to patients with serious illnesses to improve their quality of life.
Plsu, the government implemented a legal framework that outlines the rights of patients and their families in end-of-life care.
The National Health Act 2007, Section 12 provides guidelines on the use of life-sustaining treatments and the decision-making process for patients who are unable to make decisions for themselves.
This act also allows individuals to create advance directives that specify their end-of-life care wishes.
5. There are several types of will that you can choose from in Thailand.
If you’re considering making a will in Thailand, it’s important to be familiar with the different forms available.
According to the Thai Civil and Commercial Code, there are four types of wills you can choose from.
Written will (section 1656)
To be valid, it must be dated and signed by the testator and two witnesses. Any changes made to the will must also be done in the same form.
Holographic will (section 1657)
For this type, the testator must write the entire text of the document, including the date and signature. Any changes and erasures made to the will must also be done in the testator’s own handwriting and signed.
Public document will (section 1658)
This involves the testator making a declaration to the Kromakarn Amphoe (local registrar) before two witnesses. The declaration is then noted down by the Kromakarn Amphoe and signed by all parties involved.
Secret document will (section1660)
This will require the testator to sign and close the document before presenting it to the Kromakarn Amphoe and two witnesses. They must all sign the cover of the document, and any changes made to the will must be signed by the testator.
Unexpected circumstances (section 1663)
In exceptional circumstances, such as imminent danger of death or during an epidemic or war, the testator may make an oral will.
6. Inheritance taxes in Thailand range from 5% to 10%.
Inheritance taxes are an important consideration when creating a will in Thailand. In general, inheritance taxes are levied on the transfer of assets to beneficiaries after the death of the owner.
In Thailand, inheritance tax rates range from 0% to 10%, depending on the value of the assets being transferred and the relationship between the deceased and the beneficiary.
It is important to note that not all assets are subject to inheritance tax in Thailand. For example, assets that are transferred to the deceased’s spouse or children are generally exempt from inheritance tax.
Plus, there are certain deductions and allowances that can be applied to reduce the amount of inheritance tax owed.
If you’re writing your will, we recommend working with a lawyer who can advise you on the potential inheritance tax implications of your estate plan.
Your lawyer can help you structure your estate plan in a tax-efficient manner and ensure that your beneficiaries are not burdened with unexpected tax liabilities.
The Process of Making Your Last Will and Testament
In Thailand, the process of making a will can be quite different from other countries, with specific legal requirements and cultural considerations to keep in mind.
Here we’ll walk you through the steps of writing your will in Thailand, including the necessary documents, importance of witnesses, and legal payments you need to know.
Step 1: Gather the necessary documents
The first and most important document is the last will and testament itself. This document must be in both Thai and English and signed by the testator and two witnesses.
It’s also necessary to have a list of assets and beneficiaries, as well as a copy of your passport and a certificate of residence. If you own real estate in Thailand, you’ll need a land title deed or a lease agreement, depending on the type of ownership.
If you have assets in a Thai bank, you’ll need to provide bank statements or passbooks.
Additionally, if you have any outstanding debts, you’ll need to provide documentation of those debts.
By gathering all the necessary documents beforehand, you can ensure that the process of making your will in Thailand will be as smooth and efficient as possible.
Step 2: Identify your beneficiaries
Identifying your beneficiaries means identifying the people or organisations that you want to receive your assets after you pass away. These can include family members, friends, charities, or any other individuals or entities that you wish to leave your assets to.
It is important to clearly identify your beneficiaries in your will to ensure that your wishes are carried out and that there is no confusion or dispute among family members or other interested parties.
Additionally, it is important to keep your list of beneficiaries up to date, especially if there are changes in your family situation, such as births, deaths, marriages, or divorces.
We recommend planning ahead and making sure your assets go to the people you want them to, rather than leaving it up to the law.
If not, this can lead to lengthy legal battles, added stress, and even the possibility of your assets going to unintended beneficiaries.
Step 3: Choose your child’s legal guardian
Choosing a legal guardian for your child is an important step in estate planning. In the event that something happens to you and your spouse, it is critical to ensure that your child is in the care of someone who will love and support them just as you would.
When choosing a legal guardian, consider factors such as the guardian’s age, health, financial stability, and moral values. You should also consider whether the guardian has experience raising children and whether they live close enough to your child’s current home.
It’s important to discuss your choice of guardian with the person you have in mind and make sure they are willing and able to take on the responsibility. You can also name alternate guardians in case your first choice is unable to take on the responsibility.
Step 4: Choose executors and administrators
When creating a will, one of the most important decisions to make is who will be the executor or administrator of your estate. This is the person who will be responsible for carrying out your wishes as outlined in your will after you pass away.
Choosing the right executor or administrator is crucial to ensure that your estate is managed properly and that your assets are distributed as you intended. It’s important to choose someone you trust and who is capable of handling the responsibilities of the role.
Requirements for Executors and Administrators of a Will in Thailand
- At least 20 years old
- Must be mentally competent
- Have not been convicted of any crimes involving dishonesty
You can name an individual, such as a family member or friend, or you can appoint a professional executor, such as a lawyer or accountant, to handle your estate.
It’s important to discuss your decision with your chosen executor or administrator to ensure that they are willing to take on the role and understand their responsibilities.
You can also name alternate executors or administrators in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to fulfil their duties.
Step 5: Choose a healthcare representative
Choosing a healthcare representative is an important decision when it comes to creating a living will or advance directive. This person will be responsible for making medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them yourself.
When selecting a healthcare representative, consider someone who:
- Knows and respects your values and beliefs regarding medical treatment
- Is willing and able to make difficult decisions
- Lives near you or can easily travel to be with you in case of an emergency
- Can communicate effectively with medical professionals and family members
- Will follow your wishes and not impose their own beliefs or opinions
It is important to discuss your decision with your chosen healthcare representative and ensure they are willing to take on this responsibility. You may also want to name a backup representative in case your first choice is unable to fulfil the role.
Step 6: Ensure the legality of your self-written will by getting a template
One way to ensure the legality of your will is by obtaining a template.
A template is a pre-designed document that outlines the necessary components of a will. It can help guide you through the process and ensure that you include all the necessary provisions. You can find templates online or at your local legal office.
When using a template, it’s essential to ensure that it complies with the laws of your state or country. Each jurisdiction may have specific requirements for wills, such as the number of witnesses needed or the form of the document.
It’s also important to remember that a template can only guide you through the process; it cannot provide legal advice. If you have any questions or concerns about your will’s legality, it’s best to consult with an attorney.
Step 7: Sign and date the document
When it comes to creating a last will and testament, it’s not just about drafting the document itself. You also need to make sure that the will is executed properly, in accordance with the laws of your jurisdiction.
One of the key steps in this process is signing and dating the document.
To ensure that your will is legally binding, you must sign it in the presence of two witnesses who are not beneficiaries of the will. This means that the witnesses cannot be people who stand to inherit anything from your estate.
The purpose of having witnesses is to provide additional assurance that the will reflects your true wishes and intentions.
When you sign the will, you should do so with a clear mind and a full understanding of what you are doing. It’s important to take your time and read through the document carefully before signing it.
You may also want to consult with an attorney to make sure that you fully understand the legal implications of what you are doing.
Once you have signed the will, you should also make sure to date it. The date is important because it helps to establish when the will was created and whether it reflects your current wishes.
If you make any changes to the will in the future, you should also make sure to date and sign the changes in the presence of witnesses.
Step 8: Find two witnesses (if not writing a holographic will)
When making your last will and testament in Thailand, having witnesses is a critical component to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your passing.
The Civil and Commercial Code of Thailand requires at least two witnesses to sign your will alongside you. These witnesses must be over the age of 15 and have no conflict of interest in the will’s contents.
They must also be present at the same time as you when signing the will, and they must sign their names to confirm that they have witnessed your signature.
Having witnesses helps to prevent fraud or disputes over the authenticity of the will, and it ensures that the contents of the will are executed as per your wishes.
Additionally, it is important to choose witnesses who are trustworthy and who will be available in the future, should any issues arise.
Qualifications for a witness:
- A witness must be of legal age.
- The witness cannot be deaf, mute, or blind.
- The witness must not have a mental illness or be adjudged quasi-incompetent.
- The witness must not be a beneficiary under the will.
Step 9: Store the document in a safe place
After signing and dating your last will and testament, it’s important to store the document in a safe place where it can be easily accessed by your executor or loved ones when the time comes.
Consider storing it in a fireproof safe or a safety deposit box at a bank. It’s also a good idea to inform your executor and loved ones of the location of the document and provide them with a copy or the contact information for where the original can be found.
Step 10: Review and update regularly
Reviewing and updating your last will and testament on a regular basis is important to ensure that it reflects your current wishes and circumstances.
Life events such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or the acquisition of new assets can have an impact on your will.
It’s recommended that you review your will at least once every few years and make any necessary updates or changes.
If you do make changes, it’s important to sign and date the new version in the presence of witnesses, and to ensure that the old version is destroyed to avoid any confusion or conflict.