Making a Will in Thailand

Find out key information regarding the types of will available in Thailand, how to go about making a will and how wills affect your assets in Thailand and elsewhere in the world..

Having a will is important to ensure that on death, the deceased’s property passes to those of his/her choice, in the most tax effective way.

The Civil and Commercial Code contains:


1. Requirements for a valid will, and

2. The rules for distribution of property on death where no will, or no valid will, has been made (intestacy).


For a will to be valid in Thailand, it must be made in compliance with Thai law. It is always advisable to seek a lawyer's advice.

  • To make a will, a testator must be at least 15 years of age and have full mental capacity
  • A will can be changed at any time before the testator's death
  • If a person makes a will, and then subsequently marries or divorces, the will remains valid under Thai law
  • A will can be written in Thai or English. A will made in the Thai language is not essential, but can speed up the administrative process. The Thai courts accept wills made other than in Thai, but they must be translated into Thai before they can be presented to a Thai court
  • Generally, a will should be signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses, all three being present at the same time.
  • A will should always be kept in a safe place, if not in the testator's own possession, it may be wise to store it in a bank deposit box, or with a lawyer
  • The time it takes to administer an estate varies, depending on the nature of the assets and whether there is any dispute concerning the will, or the gifts it contains. If the executor or beneficiaries are foreign it will help speed things up if they employ a Thai law firm.

    Inheritance tax came into operation on Thailand in February 2016. The threshold is 100 million Baht and the tax applies to the excess above that amount. The tax rates are 5% or 10% depending on whether the beneficiary is a close relative of the deceased or not. The tax only applies to assets where the title is registered e.g. land and buildings, shares, motor vehicles, etc. Other fees chargeable e.g. Land Department fees on a transfer of property or stamp duty on a transfer of shares, are still payable in addition to any inheritance tax payable. Gift tax was revised at the same time as inheritance tax came into force. 

    The deceased's funeral must be arranged by the person appointed as executor in the will or another person who is specifically appointed to do so. Expenses for arranging the funeral can be payable under the will.

    Note: It may be preferable for a person to make separate wills to apply in each country in which they own assets. For example, if separate wills are made for assets in the UK and Thailand, then it can speed up the process of estate administration in Thailand.


    The form of a will

    A will must be prepared as prescribed by Thai law. In general, a will must be in writing, dated and signed by the testator and at least two witnesses who are present at the same time as the testator signs and also in each other's presence. An oral will may be made in time of war, and there are other special rules that apply in such a case.

    It is possible for a testator to write their own will. This is called a holograph will. This form of will must be signed and dated by the testator but it does not have to be witnessed. If the will has been written or typed by a person other than the testator, then that person must sign the will as well. Special rules apply in cases where the testator is blind, mute, deaf or illiterate.

    The testator does not need to reveal the contents of the will to witnesses, unless this is required by law. Certain persons are ineligible to be witnesses:

  • A beneficiary under the will
  • A person unable to manage his own affairs
  • A person with mental incapacity
  • A deaf, dumb, or blind person
  • A will can be made by the testator in the District Office (Amphur or Khet) and a record of such a will remains secret during the testator's lifetime.

    A will may be altered by making a subsequent will or a codicil. This should state whether the first will is totally or only partly revoked. The rules for signing a subsequent will or a codicil are the same as for executing the original will.

    Trusts

    Trusts do not exist in Thai law. If a testator wants to bequeath property to a person under 20 (the age of majority in Thai law) this can be effected by asking the executor to hold the property for the minor beneficiary, or appointing a guardian to hold the property for the minor until they reach majority. The executor or guardian can be given certain powers to manage property or invest money.

    Prepared by: Stephen Frost, Director, Bangkok International Associates 17th Floor ITF Tower, 140/36-37 Silom Road, Bangkok 10500, Thailand Tel: 02 231 6201-3 Fax: 02 231 6204 e-mail sfrost@bia.co.th Website www.bia.co.th Copyright ® Bangkok International Associates 2017 All Rights Reserved

    Prepared by: Stephen Frost, Director, Bangkok International Associates 17th Floor ITF Tower, 140/36-37 Silom Road, Bangkok 10500, Thailand Tel: 02 231 6201-3 Fax: 02 231 6204 e-mail sfrost@bia.co.th Website www.bia.co.th Copyright ® Bangkok International Associates 2017 All Rights Reserved