THAI INHERITANCE LAW
By: Magna Carta Law Office
In Thailand, when a person dies without a Last Will and Testament, the intestate’s assets must be distributed in accordance with the law. As stipulated in The Civil and Commercial Code Section 1629, there are six classes of statutory heirs in Thailand. Each class is entitled to inherit in the following order;
Brothers and sisters of full blood
Brothers and sisters of half blood
Grandfathers and grandmothers
Uncles and aunts
The right of a surviving spouse to share in the estate of a deceased spouse arises automatically from marital status. Spouses who are under separation do not lose the right of inheritance to one another as long as divorce between them has not been granted according to law. Ordinances awarding such rights of a surviving spouse make the spouse a statutory heir. Before any distribution of the estate to the relatives, half of the estate (community property or in Thai, Sin Somros) will belong to the spouse, if any, and the other half will be distributed accordingly.
Land and Condominium Inheritance
A foreigner who acquires a condominium unit by inheritance, either as a legal heir under a Last Will and Testament or as a statutory heir, shall acquire the property ownership if the condominium unit is within the foreign quota and the foreigner qualifies for ownership. Otherwise, it is required by law that the foreigner shall dispose of the unit within 1 year from the date of acquisition. If it is not disposed of within such period of time, the Director-General of Land Department shall have the power to sell the condominium unit on the foreigner’s behalf.
Foreigners are not allowed to own or inherit land in Thailand. Any foreigner who inherits land must dispose of the land within 1 year as prescribed by the Director-General. If such time period elapses, the Director-General shall have power to dispose of such land.
A major disadvantage of lease in Thailand is that the contract and the right of possession is terminated upon death of the lessee and is not automatically transferable by inheritance. Although the lease agreement must include a succession clause, this does not offer full legal guarantee for the lessee’s heirs.
The creditors of an estate are entitled to be paid only out of the property of the estate. Debts due by the estate shall be paid in the following order and in accordance with the provisions of the Thailand Civil and Commercial Code concerning preferential rights:
Expenses incurred for the common benefit of the estate and funeral of the deceased
Taxes and rates due by the estate
Wages due by the deceased to any clerk or workman
Supplies of daily necessities to the deceased
Remuneration for the administrator
Any property appropriated under the foregoing provisions shall be sold by way of public auction, but any heir may prevent such sale by paying, to the extent required for the satisfaction of the creditors, the value of the whole or part of the property as may be determined by an appraiser appointed by the Court. The administrator is not bound to deliver the estate or any part thereof to the heirs before 1 year has elapsed from the deceased’s date of death, unless all the known creditors of the estate and legatees have been satisfied with the performance and distribution.