WILL AND TESTAMENT
A will, or a testament, is a legal document in which a person (the testator) declares how his/ her properties shall be distributed after their death.
It is said that the testament is the last will of a person and it enters into effect when the person dies.
It is always recommendable to plan the will thoroughly. The testator needs to consider what he/ she wishes to achieve with the will; the main purpose of the will might, for example, be to transfer certain property to a specific person or to a particular charity, to secure the widow’s or widower’s position, to minimize inheritance tax or to grant a specific person the right to possess certain property. It is also possible to regulate other issues in the will, for example, who the will shall be executed by, who shall be responsible for the maintenance of certain property, who shall take care of the grave or one may expressly exclude the marital right of the beneficiary’s spouse to property mentioned in the will.
A person may rule freely over his or her property in a will. It is always recommendable for a person, especially foreigner who has property in Thailand, to draw up a will ruling their assets in Thailand after death.
When drawing up a will in Thailand, it is essential to keep in mind that certain requirements as to form must be met. If the form requirements are not met, the will may be declared invalid.
The following are formal requirements of a will in Thailand:
The will must be signed by the testator in person
The will must be witnessed by two persons
The witness and the person who drafted the will cannot be a legatee in such will.
A person who has reached the age of fifteen years may draw up a will. Further, it is generally required that the testator has a sufficient understanding of the meaning and implications of drawing up a will.
The witnesses must be aware that the document they are witnessing is a testament or will, but they do not need to know further details regarding the actual contents of the will.
Both witnesses must be simultaneously present when the testator signs the will and, after the testator has signed the will, these witnesses shall attest to the will with their signatures. The witnesses shall further note their contact details next to their signatures, as well as note the place and time of the attestation.
A will may be amended at any time, but any additions or amendment must be made in the same way as the will itself – an amendment of the will is thus seen as a new will. A will may be revoked at any time, which means that the legal order of succession is reinstated, unless a new will is drawn up. The revocation must be done clearly, for example, by making a separate written notice of revocation or by destroying the original will.
It is highly recommended that you consult an expert when drawing up a will. An unclear will can lead to unnecessary, long and expensive disputes, if the document leaves room for several interpretations in regards to what the testator’s last wishes were.