If you're a foreigner who lives in Thailand longer-term and has invested in properties on the island or has a marriage to a Thai national, one of the things you should seriously think about is the creation of your last Will as well as Testament.

It is common for people to avoid discussing this subject, or simply ignore the uncomfortable thought, but we all recognize that mortality is inevitable and is possible for anyone to die at any time.

Your final Will and Testament can make sure that your hard-earned wealth and assets located in Thailand will be divided among the correct individuals without causing family problems of having to go through long court processes as well as having an internal conflict. It is definitely recommended to talk to an attorney in Thailand who can you with all your questions and make sure that the final Will is valid according to Thai law.

The law applicable to the final Will could differ in every country. This article will provide the basics to aid you in understanding the importance of a Thai Will and the succession process in Thailand and what is required when making the Will and Last Will.

Importance of Thai Will

If you have properties elsewhere in Thailand which are of great worth, regardless of whether they are property in Bangkok or investments that you bought during your time in Thailand It is advised to make a will.

The law of Thailand permits foreigners resident in Thailand to draft Wills that are registered or not in order to safeguard their estate. Like the Will elsewhere the Will and Testament in Thailand is similar to a Will and Testament is legal in Thailand allows you to assign beneficiaries, guardians, your children, and your executor Will to manage all the administrative tasks.

If you have a valid Last Will and Testament prepared the executor is able to present the document to the legally authorized Thai court for the purpose of validating and issuing the court's order. With all the provisions for succession in the Will procedure is quite simple.

What Happens If You Don't Have a Thai Will After Your Demise?

If a person dies without having an estate plan, Thai law clearly states that the majority of marital assets will go to the legally married spouse. The remainder of the assets will be divided among the legal heirs in the order of priority, as per the Thai Civil and Commercial Code:

  1. Descendants
  2. Parents
  3. Brothers and Sisters of Full Blood
  4. Brothers and Sisters of Half-Blood
  5. Grandfathers and Grandmothers
  6. Uncles and Aunts

If the beneficiary of the estate is minor or is incapable of handling their own affairs the court may designate a guardian to with the administration of the estate even if it hasn't been before arranged by the law.

If there isn't any Thai will and the deceased is not a living relative, the estate will pass into the state.

Requirements and Conditions to Make a Thai Will

In order to draft the Thai Will that is legally valid, the testator must be at least 15 years old and have a good mind.

In general, the Will must be signed and acknowledged by two witnesses. The Executors of the Will are designated. It is crucial to remember that a witness can't be a beneficiary in the Will, one with a shaky mind, or one who is not yet of the age of legality.

If the testator wants to amend the terms in the draft Will the testator is able to do this in the future prior to death. When the Will is drawn up the Will must be copied and passed to a lawyer or kept in secure places.

The Forms of Wills and How They Are Executed Under Thai Law

Wills in Thailand can be executed in various forms based on the testator's choice.

What Should Be Included in your Will?

Below is the general info to be included in a Will in any form.

A law firm located in Thailand will assist you in writing your final Will as well as a Testament in order to make sure that every bit of your assets will be divided among your loved ones in the way you would like. A skilled lawyer will ensure that there aren't any loopholes in your Will and will outline everything in a concise and clear way. A valid and adequate Will that is drafted with the help of a professional lawyer can ensure that your wishes will be are taken into consideration.

Foreigners interested in investing in Thailand property are limited in the type of properties they can own. Land ownership of buildings is the exclusive right of Thais although foreigners are allowed to own buildings. Thus for foreigners, investing in the construction of a building on a piece of land in Thailand is not a very wise option. The Condominium Act of B.E. 2522 (1979) however, provides some concessions to foreigners interested in investing in Thai real estate. This law grants them the privilege of owning Thailand condominiums and defines the parameters of such ownership. Foreigners may not own more than 49% of the value or area of the entire project.

Who are eligible to invest in Bangkok condominiums? There are two groups and these are:

Thailand accepts all foreign currencies as payment for the purchase of a condominium unit.  The money must be transferred into Thailand as a foreign currency then converted into Thai Baht by a local bank in Thailand. The process of buying a condominium involves showing proof to the Department of Lands that the payment has been sent from overseas in foreign currency. The said government agency will not register the transfer of ownership to the foreign buyer without such proof.

Buyers must adhere to the following guidelines when paying for the Thailand condominium:

  1. The name on the purchase contract must be exactly the same name in the remittances “down to the letter”. If there are two buyers, two names should appear in the contract and  two separate remittances should be made by the two persons mentioned, in equal amounts.

  2. Only funds remitted in foreign currency will be accepted.
  3. The remittance advice must state the purpose for which funds are being transferred. This should be stated thus: “FOR THE PURCHASE OF BUYING A CONDOMINIUM, UNIT #___ IN_____ IN _____”. The specific name of the project, and tower or building number must be included.

  4. The amount for each of the following must be specified based on what is written in the contract: reservation, signing sale and purchase agreement, installments, and transfer amount.

  5. The two options to transfer money to the developer are:

A foreigner planning on buying a place of his own in Thailand has the option of purchasing a condominium. The buying process is simple and straightforward, thanks to investor-friendly Thai statues. To make sure that all the requirements are in order and the foreign buyer is protected from possible unscrupulous business practices, it is best to enlist the services of reliable and competent lawyers who specialize in Thailand real estate and property transactions. Law Firm in Thailand is a reputable law firm with local and foreign attorneys who will provide you with the best legal service available to facilitate the real estate transaction involved in your purchase of your very own Bangkok Condominium.

Can a US citizen own land in Thailand is a common question as one tends to think about the US Amity Agreement. According to the Chief Registrar, Phuket Provincial Land Office the answer is simple!

A US citizen may own any property in Thailand but not the land. This applies to all foreign nationals in the Kingdom. This can be a bit confusing as there is an exception as described by the Land Office in Thailand. This being that special provisions exist under the regulations Thailand's Board of Investment (BOI), which provides incentives for business-related investment in Thailand. Foreigners who invest in projects approved by the BOI are allowed to own one rai of land. This only applies to BOI companies.

With regards to condominiums, the only foreigners presently allowed to own 100% of the development itself (but not the land on which it stands) are Americans, since the signing of a Thai-US business agreement. Other nationalities may own up to 49% of a project, but no more. This however might change with Thailand having signed the WTO agreements and the status of the US Amity Agreement is in doubt. Speak to one of our attorneys with regards to ownership of land in Thailand with regards to the US Amity Agreement.

If you are buying property in Thailand then speak to us at Law Firm in Thailand for property advice. With an excellent reputation in Thailand and the expatriate community and a law office in all the major cities in Thailand we at Law Firm in Thailand can assist you today. Call us toll-free from the US or from the UK about what we can do for you. You can also walk into any of our offices in Thailand or speak to a paralegal online now.

Offices located in Thailand

Bangkok
Two Pacific Place Building,
142 Sukhumvit Road, Klongtoey,
Bangkok 10110

Phuket
Moo 5, Bangtao Place T. Cherngtalay, A. Thalang,
Phuket 83110, Thailand

Pattaya
Moo 10 Nongprue,
Banglamung, Chonburi 20150

Koh Samui
Moo 4, Bophut, Koh Samui,
Surat Thani, 84320

Chiang Mai
Curve Mall,
215/2 Chang Klan Road,
Muang, Chiang Mai 50100

If you are considering leasing property in Thailand there are a few important issues to remember before signing any agreement. Speak to an attorney in Bangkok with regards to leasehold agreements. Once you find the property that you like and would be looking at leasing always speak to an attorney first as the agreements can only be valid for less than 30 years. This has to be stated in the lease agreement. You also need to ensure that the lease is registered with the Land Office if the lease is for longer than 3 years as that is the current law in Thailand.

The lease agreement will no doubt be in Thai and if you do not speak, read or write any Thai signing such an agreement is a disaster in the making. If you have not registered the lease being longer than 3 years, this can still be done. Even if the lease has already been signed and still hasn't been registered with the Land Office, it should be registered with the Land Office and registration will apply retroactively from the date of the start of the lease.

Both the landlord and the tenant must be present at the Land Office with the necessary documentation: the land title, ID card – or passport for a foreigner – and a house registration, or if the tenant is a company, the company registration, and an annual report. Lease agreements longer than 3 years are common in Thailand especially in Issaan and Bangkok where many expats lease a house or villa for a long term stay in the Kingdom. Speak to us online about a leasehold agreement or call us on our toll-free US or UK telephone numbers.

Property taxes in Thailand is not the same as back home as they do not have CGT (Capital Gains Tax). There is a different system which is used as explained below. As there is no Capital Gains Tax in Thailand the income from the property sale is viewed as a normal income. This would be either in your name or in that of a company. If the property was in the name of your company the company would pay a specific business tax of 3.3% of the appraised or registered price, whichever is higher, withholding corporate tax of 1% of the appraised or registered price, whichever is higher, and other costs.

There are legal ways, through proper tax planning with a qualified Tax Attorney or CPA, to reduce your exposure to tax liabilities. Since you are preparing to invest “heavily” here in Thailand, we would suggest you consult with a reputable law firm. Speak to one of our tax attorneys at our Phuket office for further advice on the buying and selling of property and how this affects your tax.  Speak to us online or via our toll-free US or UK telephone numbers.

We have listed a property transfer calculator for you on our main website.

What is your property classed as - a villa or a condominium and how does Thai law decide what to define your property as. The answer lays in the Thai statues for a definition. Each area much like the West has zoning laws and this one can find at your local Tambon Administration Organization (OrBorTor). There are no laws which state how many floors a building must have in order to be classified as a condominium however laws with regards to condominiums are ruled by the  Private, Commonly-Owned Housing Act of 2522 BE (1979), also known as the Condominium Act. A villa is a stand-alone building on a plot of land, whereas a condominium is a structure featuring both privately-owned property and common property, with the land owned jointly by the owners through a “juristic condominium person.

Buying a villa is more difficult than buying a condo. For this reason, most expats buy into a condominium block as their retirement home. Some do opt for a villa especially if they are married. On the other hand, many simply opt to rent on long term bases without the problems of property maintenance. Think about what it is that you need and how best to achieve that aim. Speak to one of our attorneys who will be able to point out the pro's and con's of what you have in mind.

 

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