Will and Succession under Thai Law

Succession is a mode of acquisition by virtue of which the properties, including its rights and obligations, of a person are transmitted upon his death to his heirs, devisees and legatees.  In Thailand, succession may either be testate or intestate. 

Testate succession occurs when a person dies with a Thai will naming his heirs as well as specifying the distribution of his assets.  A will is an act whereby a person takes control of the disposition of his assets, subject to legal requirements, which will take effect at the time of his death.  The will is likewise considered a description of the testator’s assets and his wishes with regards to its distribution.  A will is drafted primarily for distribution of the testator’s properties at the event of his death.  The testator may specifically instruct its distribution and designate his inheritance to his heirs, devisees and legatees.

The Civil and Commercial Code of Thailand provides for the different types of wills may be drafted in the Kingdom.  A will may be made through the following forms:

  1.  A will may be made in writing, dated at the time of the making of the will and signed by the testator before at least two witnesses present at the same time who shall then and there sign their names certifying the signature of the testator.
  2. A will may be made in holographic document, that is, the testator must write with his own hand, dated and signed by him.
  3. A will may be made by a public document, that is, the testator must declare to the Kromakarn Amphoe before at least two other persons as witnesses present at the same time what dispositions he wishes to be included in his will. It shall be then read to the testator with the presence of the witnesses and thereafter signed by them. The statement shall be noted down by the Kromakarn Amphoe, dated and signed by the latter who shall then certify under his hand and seal
  4. A will may also be made by a secret document whereby the testator writes his disposition, dated, sealed and signed by him. The sealed document must be produced before the Kromakarn Amphoe and at least two other persons as witnesses and declare to all of them that it contains his testamentary dispositions.
  5. An oral will may likewise be made when under exceptional circumstances such as imminent danger of death, or during epidemic or war, a person is prevented from making his will in any other prescribed forms.

A foreigner may draft his will under Thai Law.  The will shall govern the distribution of his assets in Thailand in the event of his death.  These assets may include real or personal properties such as condominium units, motor vehicles, personal effects, jewelries, bank accounts and others.  Whenever an expat has considerable amount of assets in Thailand, it is of legal prudence to draft a will.

Administration of the Decedent’s Estate

Estate administration and planning involves structuring the testator’s assets and how these assets are to be distributed at the time of his death. Estate planning is generally embedded in the testator’s will and the drafting thereof shall comply with the latter’s wishes provided that the testation are in accordance with the laws where the will is drafted. For a person who lives in Thailand or has assets in the country, it is advisable to seek the services of a lawyer in drafting a will in Thailand. A Thai will covers the person’s assets in Thailand, including personal property, vehicles, bank accounts and investments.

Appointment of Executor of the Estate

At the time of the testator’s death, a copy of the will must be provided to the courts, either by a member of the decedent’s family or the deceased person’s attorney. A decedent’s property in Thailand is distributed according stipulations in the will.  In the case that there  is no will, the law on intestate succession will apply.

In both cases, a court must approve the legal aspects of the inheritance, and will appoint an executor or administrator to handle the estate’s affairs. When a person dies intestate, or not having executed a valid will, the entire estate is distributed among their heirs according to law.

Probate is the process of administering the decedent’s assets. In Thailand, this process is supervised by the courts and is designed to project the wishes of the decedent and the decedents heirs while complying with Thai laws.

To protect your interests, even after death, our team of Family lawyers can assist you in the drafting of your will so that distribution of your estate will not be burdensome for your heirs.  This will also facilitate a smooth and peaceful transfer of ownership from the descendent to his legal heirs.