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Protection of assets, Succession and Inheritance Law in Thailand H&P Law firm for legal executor appointment

In Thailand, the provisions regarding the inheritance of decedent’s assets are set in the Civil and Commercial Code, covering both in case of the person who dies intestate and dies with the will. H&P lawyers in Bangkok have prepared this brief summary based on three main aspects: Definition of assets, Intestate Succession and Succession with a will in Thailand.

Legal definition of asset in Thailand

On the legal definition of asset in Thailand, the decedent’s property and asset which is subject to the Thai inheritance law, means all properties of the decedent in any kind, as well as the rights, duties and liabilities, except those which by law or by their nature are purely personal to the decedent.

Intestate Succession in Thailand

If a person passes away in Thailand without providing a valid will, the decedent’s property and asset will be allocated to the surviving spouse and the heirs, which under this circumstance both are called “Statutory Heir”.

The provisions of the inheritance law are set forth in the Division 6 of the Civil and Commercial Code (CCC), governing the procedure of the asset’s distribution, the right and limitation of the statutory heirs and spouse, as well as the classification of the statutory heir which is generally significant for the inheritance law.

The statutory heirs other than the spouse, are classified into 6 classes under section 1629 of the CCC, namely, 1) descendants; 2) parents; 3) brothers and sisters; 4) half-brothers and half-sisters; 5) grandparents; 6) uncles and aunts. Each class is entitled to inherit the decedent’s asset in order, meaning that, as long as there is any heir surviving or represented in the primary class, the heir of the lower one shall have no right to the estate at all. However, there is an exception where the descendant survives or there is the presentation by its descendants, and the parents of the decedent still alive, this case the parent will be entitled to the same share as an heir in the degree of descendant under section 1630 p.2 of the CCC.

As mentioned above that the decedent’s asset will also passes to the surviving spouse, provided by section 1635 of the CCC. However, the share of the asset will depend upon the class of the surviving statutory heirs, which is; the spouse will be entitled to the same share as an heir in the degree of descendant, if there is a descendant surviving or having representatives; one half of the inheritance, if the parents or brothers and sisters survive; two-thirds of the inheritance, if the half brothers and sisters or grandparents or uncles and aunts survives; or the whole inheritance where there is no surviving statutory heir.

In addition, the illegitimate and adopted child always become an issue of Thai inheritance law as whether those people are entitled to inherit the decedent’s asset, because the distribution of the asset in the case of intestate is the result of the law, not the intention of the decedent with the valid will, which you could name any person to receive your property when you pass way.

Under section, 1627 of the CCC, an illegitimate child will be entitled to inherit if it has been legitimated by its natural father, for example, using the father’s surname, the child is taken care by the father throughout the lifetime or any other manner establishing the adjudication of paternity before the death of such intestate. Whereas in case of the adopted child, section 1598/28 of the CCC states that it also has legitimate right to receive the property as the legitimate child, provided that such adoption shall be registered under law.

Succession with a will in Thailand

Nobody can deny that everything in our life is unpredictable. Most people thus decide to avoid any problem which could arise upon such uncertain circumstances by designing the destination of their property after they pass away. Even it is true that the law generally respects the intention of the decedent, but this is not always because sometimes their intention is appeared in the invalid form or written with the ambiguous language requiring the interpretation by the court.

The essential issue where the person dies with the will, is whether such document is enforceable. Under law, the will shall be made in the form as specified under section 1656-1669, for example; 1.) made in writing and signed before at least two witnesses; 2.) made by an holograph document with the testator own hand writing in the whole text of documents; 3.) made by a public document, which shall be declared and signed by the authority at the district office; 4.) made by a secret document, shall be sealed and then declared such closed document to the district office authority; 5.) oral will, under exceptional circumstances such as imminent danger of death. It should be noted that those are the strict provisions. If the will is not made in the specified form, it thus become invalid and the asset shall be allocated in the manner as those who dies intestate.

Besides, the testamentary document should be made in the plain, and clear language, because if the terms of the document are unambiguous and could well express the testator’s intention, the court must enforce those terms as they are written, it could not be rejected, or treated as superfluous, redundant or meaningless if those terms provide a meaning which is reasonable and in accordance with the law. In contrast, if those terms are ambiguous and needs further interpretation from the court, there would be the possibility that the result is not in consistent with testator’s intent.

Moreover, there are some other issues that should be concerned, for example, the capacify of the testator and witnesses, as they are required having the full conscious when the will is made; the witnesses shall not be legatee under such will.

Notwithstanding the valid form, the will could be unenforceable if there is the conflict of the statement. Based on H&P lawyers experience, this issue arises when the testator has made more than one will, but his declaration of intention in the previous will conflicts with the subsequent one. Pursuant to section 1697 of the CCC, the conflict statement in the previous will shall be deemed as has been revoked by the latter.

Therefore, before making the will, you need to make sure that all statements are clear and does not conflict with any will you have made. In addition, the testamentary disposition could lapses under the specific circumstances, for example; the legatee dies before the testator; the testamentary disposition is to take effect on a condition being fulfilled and the legatee dies before its fulfillment, or it becomes certain that the condition cannot be fulfilled; the legatee refuses legacy; or the whole property bequeathed is, without the intention of the testator, lost or destroyed during his lifetime and the testator has not acquired a substitute or a claim for compensation for the loss of such property.

Is there any issue that a foreigner should concern about Inheritance Law in Thailand?

Yes, there are many factors that should be considered so we recommend that you consult a lawyer in Thailand with expertise in Thai Succession Law. One example is that typically the acquisition of the decedent’s land shall be registered at the Land Department. Also, there are some limitations of the foreigner to hold the land in Thailand under section 87 of the Land Code, such as 1 rai for residential use, 10 rais for industrial use. Therefore, if the land in which the foreign heir acquires exceed the permissible amount under the law, such person shall sell the exceed amount within 180 days following the acquisition date under section 93 of the Land Code.

If you need legal assistance on succession, inheritance law in Thailand and protection of assets, please contact our lawyers in Bangkok at [email protected]

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