What If I Die in Thailand? Hierarchal Heirship, Burial Practice, Your Will

It is very important to plan ahead while living in Thailand in order to make your spouse's and family’s life much easier and less hectic when you pass away. There are lots of things that you should think about and consider doing as soon as you can and we will discuss those things in today’s article. 

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First of all you should consider what you want to happen to your body after you pass away. There are three choices that are available to you:

1. Cremation

Because Thailand is a Buddhist country, most bodies are cremated. The body is sent to a temple that is equipped for cremation, the ashes are then kept in a chedi at the temple, scattered somewhere in the country or taken back to the home country by family members in which case they will be assisted by the embassy to handle the paperwork.

2. Burial

Burials are not very common in Thailand, it is also relatively expensive and the process takes much longer than cremations. However, it is relatively easy to find an English speaking funeral director, which can be useful. There are also cemeteries available in Thailand if that's what you want.

3. Repatriation

If you have insurance, most of the time the insurance companies will assist your family and make arrangements for repatriation as well as an international funeral director so that the process will be as smooth as possible. The international funeral director will take care of all the custom requirements and the process usually takes 10 days. 

Another question you may be wondering is what will happen if you do not have a will. If you do not have a will, the Inheritance laws of Thailand will be applied and will determine what happens to your assets when you pass away. The order of classes of different heirs are listed below:

  1. Descendants
  2. Parents
  3. Full blood siblings
  4. Half blood siblings
  5. Grandparents
  6. Uncles and aunts
  7. The surviving spouse is a statutory heir, subject to the special provisions of Section 1635 Civil and Commercial Code.

According to the Thai inheritance laws. If you have a surviving heir in one of the classes listed above, then the heir of the lower class will not have a share of your assets whatsoever, the different classes of heirs listed above are not flexible. However, there is one exception, when there is a parent and a descendant, in which case they will take an equal share of the assets, if there is more than one heir in the same class then your assets for that particular class will be divided equally between them. If you have a spouse, he/she will be a statutory heir, however their entitlement will depend on what other class of statutory heir exists. In simple terms, if you have two children and a spouse, your assets will be divided equally between them, that means all your assets will be divided by three. It may be confusing, so check the description below where we will provide the hierarchy of different classes of heirs according to the Thai inheritance law. 

The best thing you should do is to create a last will. This will make life much easier for your family and much less stressful in case you pass away. By making a will, you will be able to state what you want to happen to your body after you pass away, and also how you want your assets to be divided. It is also not too difficult to make a will and testament in Thailand. According to the civil and commercial code in Thailand, in order for a will and testament to be valid, it must be made by a person of sound mind and in the forms prescribed below:

1. A last will in writing, dated at the time of writing and signed by the testator in the presence of at least two witnesses who also sign their names to certify the testator’s signature. No notarization is required for this writing to be a valid and legal will. This is the easiest and most common type of will in Thailand.

2. For those of you who can read or write Thai, you can also make a will as a public document at your local district offices (khet or amphur). You will have to declare your wishes to a public officer who will write it down on a public document in Thai in which you will have to give your signature. There is also another way in which you can write and seal your will with signatures of at least two witnesses and give it to the public officer. This way your will will be safe and it will not get lost or be tampered with.

3. Keep in mind that during exceptional cases such as the danger of imminent death where you are prevented or unable to make a will in forms discussed earlier, you are able to make a valid will by word of mouth. You should remember this incase such situations occur to you.

Now you may be wondering who the witnesses can be in your will, well, they can be a Thai person or even a foreigner except if they are a minor, a person of unsound mind, a deaf, dumb or blind person or a beneficiary in the last will as well as your spouse.

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