The processes following an expat death at home in Thailand
When an expat dies at his or her residence in Thailand, rather than in a hospital or care facility, there is a potentially lengthy aftermath of documentation required to be either put together or submitted after that death.
In the first instance the police will be informed and will attend the scene to make a report. At the same time the volunteers from one of the local organisations which take the role of the mortuary will take the body away. The body will almost certainly be taken to Bangkok to the Police Forensic Hospital where an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death, even if the person is 120 years old.
The Embassy of the deceased needs to be informed. In theory, the police are supposed to contact the relevant embassy, but it is just as easy and possibly more sensible for the executor of the deceased’s will, or a close relative or friend to do so, thereby establishing a point of contact. An embassy official will then supply information on what they require to complete the various certification processes.
An official autopsy report is required from the Police Hospital (located on Henri Dunant Road in Bangkok), as well as instructions given on where to send the body for burial or cremation.
The autopsy report needs to be given to the police station which attended the death scene. The police then issue a report which needs to be taken to the local amphur office to issue an official death certificate.
To release funds locked up in a Thai bank account to the person or persons mentioned in the will of the deceased, the bank requires a certified copy of the passport of the deceased, either the passport or ID card of the beneficiary, a copy of the Thai death certificate, the original bankbooks, and a probate letter from the court.
Probate can only be issued by the local court and you need to get a lawyer to prepare the paperwork for the court, which charges around 3,000 baht to receive the said paperwork. Typically, the lawyers fee is around five percent of the expected net worth of the estate.
It takes around 40-45 days until the executor attends the court to get a judgement. Assuming all goes well, the court will issue an order regarding bank accounts and the like anywhere from three to six weeks later.
Depending on the amount involved in the bank account/s, the bank will need to have a series of forms filled in and will issue orders for the funds to be dispersed about a month later.
The entire process can take up to six months before the estate is finally settled, so it’s worth making sure your next of kin/beneficiary has sufficient available funds to deal with the police, embassy, forensic hospital, city hall, lawyer and the court.