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Legal Services, Pattaya City Thailand

A Last Will & Testament

 Family Money: In case you’re not immortal ... and living in Thailand

A Last Will & Testament

A Last Will & Testament may be in any one of four forms, with varying degrees of safety from challenge. First, what is known as a ‘holographic will’ which means you wrote it out by hand and you make corrections and verify them yourself.

Second: a Will made with a lawyer. Corrections on the first two types of Wills, if evident, are points of attack by an opposing lawyer.

Third: a Public Will, which is the strongest Will available in Thailand. The form for this type of Will is in Thai, which needs to be filled out, and cannot be attacked, and is available at the District House at Banglamung, Amphur* office, and at Pattaya City Hall, Amphur* Office and may cost 100 baht. (*Amphur is the same as the Council Office in the UK, or City or County Clerk in the USA.)

The fourth is none: you die intestate and your goods are distributed by the state according to certain rules.

 Thai rules

It is worth remembering that there is no second language in Thailand, so if there is a question between an English translation and a Thai translation, the Thai wins. Any language is accepted, but if translated into Thai, the Thai version prevails. Bear in mind that only a will written in Thai is technically admissible in a Thai court: the one in English is for your convenience and information only.

Westerners are used to the concept of naming their own Executor in their Will. In Thailand it is technically the court who appoints your Executor: in your Will you name a “Personal Representative” (who may be a relative, friend or your lawyer) who is usually accepted by the court and appointed your Executor.

Your Executor is then charged with ensuring any taxes due are paid, and the assets listed in your Will are distributed according to your wishes – even to someone on the other side of the world! The Executor may charge the estate a reasonable amount or fee for time spent and for expenses incurred carrying out these duties; but the testator will usually have set a reasonable limit on the amount his Personal Representative may charge in toto.

While you can include property and other assets in another Country in a Will made in Thailand, and this Will may be accepted in your own country, the safest method is to have a Will in each country covering your assets in each – and specifying that this Will covers only those assets held in, for instance, the United Kingdom. Another Will is similarly drawn up, specifying that this Will covers only those assets held in Thailand. A third may cover Australia – and so on. This may sound onerous, but is also sound tax planning.

 Life Partnerships

There is no direct law on live-in partners: the closest law is business partnership law, and has mostly to do with moveable property.

If you put property in your partner’s name, and you want it back or part of it, it is very difficult.

The legal age in Thailand is variable depending on circumstances from 18 through 20. If your partner is 21 or more, she or he is past the age of requiring consent. But children 15 years of age and younger engaged in sexual acts are considered by statute to have been raped regardless of any consent given. At ages 16, 17 and 18, you can be sued by the parents.

If you want to separate from a partner, you will usually get what is yours and she will get what is hers.

It is therefore wise to keep an inventory of the things you buy for her, things she buys for you, and things you buy jointly. Houses and property, in your Thai partner’s name, are theirs regardless of who paid for the property. Use loan and rent agreements to retain control of the property, or form a company.

Having children in an unmarried relationship is evidence of a long-term relationship: it is therefore a partnership, and partnership law governs.

Thai law is based on Community Property, so if you get married, what you or she had before the marriage are your separate properties, whereas what you acquired or earned after the marriage is joint property, and divided equally in the event of divorce.

Pre-nuptial Agreements are legal in Thailand and will be upheld by the Court.

Don’t forget that your Thai will should list (as an Appendix) all your assets in Thailand, including bank accounts (with branch address and account numbers); vehicles (if they’re in your own name) including registration number, chassis & engine numbers; condominiums and shares in companies owning property; jewellery and personal possessions, including paintings and objects d’art. It saves squabbling if you specify who inherits each item or the proceeds of liquidation of that asset.

Having taken care of this most important aspect of estate planning, you can relax and, as Mr. Spock would say, live long and prosper.

By Leslie Wright,  Managing director of Westminster Portfolio Services (Thailand) Ltd.

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Last Will and Testament , Pattaya City Thailand