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Living in Thailand: Drafting a Will

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing Wills and Estates, specifically for those living in Thailand. I get questions rather frequently from viewers of these videos as well as from folks that just contact us here at the firm regarding whether or not they should have a will. If so, how should it be drafted etc.? 

I am not going to get into the details of drafting because specifically speaking, that is going to come down to the specific circumstances of a given client's case. But let it be said that when drafting a Will, you have to be sure to think ahead with respect to what you want done with not only your assets for example, but also perhaps for things like disposition of remains etc. 

I was recently at the US Embassy American Citizen Services Section here in Bangkok and I found this pamphlet. Why you Should have a Will, again, US Embassy in Bangkok. We will go ahead and put this up here so you can see that but to quote directly. “Why You Should Have a Will. You are retired and content living alongside tens of thousands of US citizens who call Thailand home. Have you given thought to the last piece of the puzzle? Having your final wishes carried out.” I am going to go ahead and quote further from a subsequent section. “If you die without primary next-of-kin there can be long delays in the settlement of your estate where still your intended beneficiaries may find they have no recourse if Thai or US law points to a different next of kin and you have not indicated your wishes in a will. And remember a Thai partner in a "common-law" marriage with a US citizen is not recognized by the United States as next to kin unless he or she is specified in the will.” One thing I would like to maybe point out as far as a correction goes and this isn't really me trying to be nit-pickety with the folks that wrote this pamphlet but the term "common-law" marriage is a term of art. There may be circumstances, in fact much of the case law with respect to "common law" marriage in those jurisdictions in the United States that have "common-law" marriage, a lot of the jurisprudence pertains to Wills where you have got people that did not effectuate what would be considered a fully formalized marriage but they were in a "common law" jurisdiction and ultimately a Court adjudicated that "yes, in fact they were married", and so therefore the spouse was considered a next of kin or at least a surviving intestate beneficiary subsequent to a person's death. That being said, back on point, the general theme of the quote I just went through is a good one and it is relevant. If you are not in a registered marriage here in the Kingdom then a Thai Will is going to be exceptionally necessary if you want to go ahead and make sure that that beneficiary receives proceeds from your estate. Moreover, if there are friends, specific bequests, there are many things in a Will. Oftentimes, we will see where individuals may not have something of particular monetary importance but they just want to make sure that a next-of-kin receives a specific item etc. Under those circumstances it is a really good idea to have a Will.  

Now that being said there are other provisions in a Will, for example things like dealing with one's remains.  We have done another video on this channel that specifically deals with things like bequest of ones remains, instructions for how to deal with one's remains. That is not really relevant to this video specifically because most people when they think of a Will they think of basically their material possessions being passed on to a next of kin.

So this is quite an interesting little pamphlet here but the thing that is a good idea should be taken away from this video is if you are living in Thailand, whether you have a spouse or not, if you have assets that you want to be sure are going to be bequeathed to someone of your choosing, it is probably a good idea to go ahead and get a Will properly formalized and dealt with pursuant to Thai Law and US Law and go ahead and have that on file just in case something should befall you so that your wishes are met subsequent to your passing.