What happens when someone you know died in Thailand but is not a Thai national? If you want to know about this, then you have come to the right place. Recently, many people came forward with this question: what would happen if their dad died in Thailand without having a Thai nationality? How would the property of the deceased person be divided among his legal heirs? In this article, we will talk all about foreigners and their wills in Thailand. A foreigner can be defined as a natural person who resides in Thailand but is not a Thai national. Keep on reading to learn all about what happens when a foreigner dies in Thailand.
Death of a foreigner in Thailand
In case a non-Thai national, also known as a foreigner, dies in Thailand, then the relevant authorities will contact the embassy that will notify the relatives of the deceased person about the foreigner’s death. These relatives will then hire a Thai attorney to initiate a probate proceeding in Thailand in order for the deceased person’s property to be distributed among the legal heirs of the foreigner or for the authority to have probate over the will of the foreigner.
Wills by foreigners in Thailand
Unlike foreign judgments, foreign wills may be enforceable in Thailand. In order for a foreign will to be enforceable in Thailand, it is necessary for it to be consistent with Thai laws. There are various kinds of wills that can be made in Thailand as described under sections 1655 to 1672 of the Civil and Commercial Code. However, the most common type of last will that is made by foreigners in Thailand is described under section 1656 of the Thailand Code. According to section 1656, a will must be in expressed form and be signed by the testator. Ensure that two witnesses are present at the time when the will is being signed by the testator.
Foreigners are not required to make another last will in Thailand, since foreign wills are enforceable in Thailand based on certain conditions. Foreigners are not required to make a separate last will in Thailand if they are residents in Thailand, own real estate, or are married to someone in Thailand who is a national.
Death of a US citizen in Thailand
In case a US citizen dies in Thailand, then the US Mission Thailand assists the relatives of the deceased person in Thailand. They will confirm the death and identity of the person, and notify his family. They will also be responsible for preparing documents for the disposition of the remains, and further provide guidance regarding funds for covering the costs.
What happens when someone dies without making a will?
In case a person dies without making a will in Thailand, then Thai inheritance and succession law will be applied, and the estate assets will be divided among the legal heirs of the descendent.
Thai Inheritance Law
A will helps in the distribution of the property of the deceased person among the people he wishes his property to be divided. However, it is very common for people to die without making a will in Thailand. In situations where a person in Thailand dies without making a will, then the entire estate of the person will be divided among his legal heirs as laid down under the Thai inheritance statutory law. According to Thai law, six classes of legal heirs will inherit from the deceased person’s property in the order as described below:
- Full blood brothers and sisters
- Half-blood brothers and sisters
- Uncles and aunts
In addition to these six classes of legal heirs, the estate assets of the deceased person will also be distributed to the current spouse of the deceased based on clause 1635 of the Code. Some people raise the question “whether my wife will inherit half of everything in Thailand?” It must be noted that your wife will only inherit the shares that are mentioned under section 1635 of the Code.
Inheritance by foreigners in Thailand
Many people raise the question of whether a foreigner can inherit in Thailand. According to section 1639 of the Code, a foreigner can inherit from his spouse who is a Thai national. According to section 93 of the Land Code Act, a foreigner that acquires property by inheritance in Thailand can have ownership over the property only after receiving approval of the Minister of Interior. It must be noted that the share of the foreigner must not exceed the limits described in section 87 of the Code.
Foreign Court Judgments
A lot of times issues regarding foreigners and their last will come up in the courts of Thailand. Foreigners tend to use foreign court judgments to pursue their cases. However, it must be noted that foreign court judgments are not enforceable in Thai courts, but they can be used as evidence during probate proceedings in Thailand.
Probate of an estate
According to Thai probate law, a probate order is required to be obtained from the Thailand Probate Court for the purpose of transferring property at death. It must be noted that property can either be transferred through a will or intestate succession at death. In both these cases, the property can only be transferred once the court approves and issues orders for the property to be transferred in Thailand. Probate of an estate can be defined as the administration that looks after the deceased person’s estate.
Probate administration is crucial since it helps in protecting the deceased person’s property by making sure that it gets distributed according to the person’s will and to his legal heirs. It is mandatory to present relevant evidence before the Probate Court to prove that you are a legal heir of the deceased person, and only then you will get your legal share in the deceased person’s estate.
Assistance of a Thailand Probate Lawyer
Siam Legal is a law firm in Thailand that offers various services that are designed to protect the rights and interests of foreigners in Thailand. Should you have any questions or issues relating to probate and inheritance that need to be addressed, our team of Thailand probate and property lawyers invite you to contact us through the link below: