When is a Thai Will Considered Final and Executory and When is it Considered Null and Void?
The idea of making a will is something most people are reluctant to even think about. As death is an extremely sensitive issue, any topic that is directly or indirectly associated with it is shunned. However, for many people, writing a will is almost a necessity especially if it concerns considerable estate, assets and investments.
In Thailand, the practice of making a will and testament is quite common among those in the upper strata of society. The Thai people generally recognize the importance of executing a last will and testament so that the distribution of the assets and properties will be carried out according to what is specified in the will. In the absence of which, the Thai inheritance law will determine what happens to your assets upon your death. One possibility is that your estate, without a will, may be distributed according to the stipulations of the Thai Civil and Commercial Code taking account the types of relationships and order of priority of the legal heirs.
For a Thai Will and Testament to be valid:
- The will must be made by a person of sound mind and must follow one of the forms prescribed in Chapter 2 of the Civil and Commercial Code.
- A person must be at least 15 years of age or he cannot witness or make a will. The beneficiary in the last will or testament cannot be a witness of the will.
A Thai Will and Testament is considered final and executory if all the specific requirements and stipulations of the type of Will and Testament made are complied with. If one of the specifications are not met, it may be questioned for its validity, and eventually be considered null and void.
Forms of Will in Thailand
- Holographic Will. The most common last will and testament in Thailand is one done by the testator in writing, dated at the time it was written, signed by the testator with at least 2 witnesses who sign their names to certify the signature of the testator.
- A secret document registered with the local amphur. The testator must close the document (his last Will), sign and hand it over to the same official as described in Section 1660 of the Civil and Commercial Code. 2 witnesses must also sign the closed document and the official will seal the closed Last Will and Testament. If the Last Will and Testament was not handwritten by the testator, he (testator) must state the name and domicile of the writer.
- Will by Word of Mouth. This is allowed under Thai law in certain cases or exceptional circumstances such as imminent danger of death which prevents the person from making a will in any of the prescribed forms as prescribed in the Civil and Commercial Code.
- A public document. The last Will and Testament can be made as a public document at the local amphur by a declaration to the relevant public officer. The testator must declare his wishes in the Thai language to the public officer who in turn must write down the testator’s declaration in the Will in Thai. The official must read the declaration again to the testator and witnesses who must also sign the Last Will which is drawn up by the Thai public officer. It is required that the testator using this form must read and write Thai.
The Last Will and Testament in Thailand is subject to the appointment of an executor or administrator. The court determines if the testator has made a valid will. If no valid legal Will and Testament is made or determined, the estate will be distributed among the statutory heirs pursuant to specific Thai Inheritance Laws.