Preparing a Thai will is, for various reasons, highly recommended for foreigners residing in Thailand, in particular, property owners. In many cases, a so-called joint will is a particularly useful legal structure.
Through a joint will, a married couple, typically stipulates that in the event of the passing of one of the spouses, the statutory inheritance is suspended, and the entire estate is initially devolved on the surviving spouse. Only in the event of the passing of the longer-living spouse the descendants or other heirs will inherit.
In the case of a mixed-race married couple in Thailand, the will may stipulate that the estate, including real property, of the foreign spouse, is inherited by the common children. Also, other terms could be stipulated in the will, such as a liquidation of assets, etc.
Furthermore, the joint will may stipulate specifically agreed terms for the event of the Thai spouse being the first to pass. This would address the potentially problematic situation of the Thai family attempting to take on the estate unduly.
The validity of joint wills as a viable option for legal structuring has been confirmed by Supreme Court judgments such as Supreme Court (Dika) no. 311/2496 B.E., which stated that one document may be construed as a testament or a contract, or both and that it depends on the intention of the document author(s). If the person who made the document intended to make it effective immediately, it will be deemed a contract. On the other hand, if he intended to make the document effective after he died, it will be a testament. Moreover, if that person intended to make the document both effective immediately and effective after he died, this document becomes both a testament and a contract.
It is also interesting to note that the Thai Land Department recommends the establishment of a joint will in combination with registration of usufruct as a suitable legal structure for property acquisitions by foreigners.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.