Will, heirs and inheritance

Author : Thai Property group Published on 9 March 2020
Tips to invest in South-East Asia

While it is not always pleasant to consider these topics, it is advisable to prepare your inheritance well, especially if you live in Thailand and own assets there. The arrangements you will make will allow you to secure and accelerate the transmission of your heritage such as your property investments

It should be noted that if Thailand was the deceased’s last residence, it will be Thai law that will govern his or her succession, from the devolution of property to the heirs (with or without a will) to the expenses related to the inheritance.

The will and the choice of heir(s)

In Thailand, when a will is drawn up, the distribution of property and assets is completely free. One can thus freely designate one’s heirs, unlike other foreign Laws which reserve a portion of the heritage to protected heirs such as descendants for example. Moreover, as this absence of hereditary reserve is not contrary to international public policy, the Thai will will be valid. 

It is recommended to make a will that is as precise as possible in order to facilitate the procedures for the heirs but also to avoid any contestation. In order to do so, several documents will have to be provided during its drafting, such as the property titles of the properties with their contracts or the passports of the heirs. 

All properties that can be legally held in Thailand, such as villa, condominium, car, bank deposits, shares, gold or properties under construction with contracts of sale and purchase can be included in a will. There is no limit in value.

In the absence of a will, the Thai Civil and Commercial Code will be applied. With 6 classes of legal heirs, by order of law : 

  1. the descendants
  2. the parents
  3. brothers and sisters
  4. half brothers and sisters
  5. grandparents
  6. aunts and uncles

The surviving spouse has the status of first-ranking heir in the same way as the descendants of the deceased. For same-sex couples married in other countries, their status of spouse not being recognized in Thailand requires the drafting of a will for mutual protection. The succession is then done in order, i.e. as long as an heir of a higher class is alive, an heir of a lower class will not be able to claim a share of inheritance. 

In the absence of a will and if the deceased has no relatives, all the property will revert to the Thai state. 

Regarding specific documents, it should be noted that the beneficiary of a life insurance contract will be directly mentioned on the contract. In the case of a leasehold contract, it will be necessary to insert a clause providing that the beneficiaries will automatically become parties to the contract upon the death of the tenant. Finally, if you have several properties located both in Thailand and in your home country, it is advisable to make 2 wills.  

Inheritance tax

A law adopted in 2015 introduced inheritance tax on real estate assets, which had not previously existed. However, these are low compared to other countries rates, and they only apply to estates in excess of 100 million Bahts (about 3 million euros). 

The inheritance of a patrimony is both a judicial and administrative procedure, we advise you to be accompanied by a Thai law firm to ensure its compliance and its smooth running. Do not hesitate to contact us for more information, we will put you in touch with our partner lawyers. 

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