Kelvin Bamfield spoke to the Pattaya City Expat Club on Sunday, September 22, on the topic of “Murphy’s Law and Thai Law”, noting that Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, and at the worst possible time.” Kelvin correlated Murphy’s Law with Thai Law and some of the cases he has seen in their company. He used some of these case histories, without giving identifying information, to illustrate some of the situations that were complicated by Thai Law, international laws and people trying to get around all laws. In these cases, Murphy’s Law kicked in raising numerous complications. Also, to add a little humor, Kelvin called member Ren Lexander to the stage to be the “witness” as he, as the “lawyer”, asked some very silly questions that lawyers have actually asked in court.
Kelvin is originally from Australia, has lived in Thailand over 18 years and, after 8 years of retirement, he decided to reapply his knowledge and experience and became Chief Executive Officer for Thai 888 Law Co., Ltd., (www.thai888.com) working with the owner Jeab Supaporn. Although the company offers many legal services, much of it covers living wills and last wills & testaments. For many wills, they act as the executor handling the estates through probate. The company has also expanded to include Abroad Funerals Pattaya with staff in Bangkok to deal with embassies and government offices. They can assist with all funeral arrangements including the increasingly popular Burial at Sea.
A typical Thai Law complication is the requirement to file TM.30 which is based on a law that goes back on the books for 40 years and is still on the books. Laws written at that time dealt with a much smaller foreign population. Most foreigners are surprised to discover they are referred to as Aliens and often are surprised when “things don’t happen like that in my country”! He also mentioned that Thailand has some laws that date back centuries and never been updated for more modern times. Also, not surprisingly, laws are written in Thai and legal documents presented in court, if not in Thai, must be translated. Thus, translations are required in both directions.
One of the case histories involved a French national who died without a will (intestate). He described some of the complications encountered for this case, which illustrates the importance of having a will. The situation, not unusual, gets complicated when there are relationships or family members here and in the home country. It is even more complicated when there are assets here and in one or more countries. Beneficiaries, executors and co-executors may need to travel between countries. In one situation an elderly brother and sister were named executors but did not want the responsibility of foreign travel. They arranged to resign and named Kelvin’s company as executor. Although he pointed out it is generally best to have a separate will for each country where assets exist, if not, it can complicate the probate process even more. In some countries, foreigners are not allowed to be the executor or the executor cannot be a beneficiary as there are can be conflicts of interest.
Kelvin illustrated another situation where the deceased had invested funds in a foreign company, but it turned out it involved assets going through offshore companies and bank. Thus, this case became very involved and required numerous copies of the will, death certificate, etc. that to be legal must be authenticated with stamps on each. Further, documents generally needed to be translated and verified.
Kelvin’s last case history was a situation where he was handling probate for a will that replaced an older will. However, some family members used the former will to obtain court documents in an attempt to gain access to the decedent’s accounts. Thus, requiring he obtain court documents and using those to quickly inform the banks to freeze the accounts so they could not be drained.
To avoid complications, Kelvin described steps everyone should take to make dealing with death or emergency as simple as possible. Don’t invite Murphy’s Law! He suggested everyone have a book or box with critical information; complete name, passport details, bank accounts, ATM pin number, lawyer’s name and contact, location of will and other important documents, passwords for online accounts, etc.
In this day of digital information, it is important to be able to access accounts. Providing for financial arrangements to cover medical or funeral costs is important. If the executor knows money is available, he can arrange for expenses to be covered until the will is probated. At a difficult time in people’s lives, things can be complicated if not done properly.
Following Kelvin’s talk, Peter James McMurray spoke briefly about “Smart Parent = Smart Kids”. As an international educator for many years, he has seen where the death of the wage-earning parent has disrupted the continued education of their children. He mentioned the importance of education and protecting a child’s education. Although many have a traditional life insurance policy, there is no assurance the beneficiary will use the proceeds to continue the children’s education, especially in more expensive private international schools. Thus, he wanted to mention that, unlike traditional policies, there is a life insurance currently available in Thailand that will only pay out to a school or institution for the education of the child or children that are attending. It is designed to ensure they are able to complete their education on the death of a parent. This is at a time a child needs stability and friends and is portable to another international school. Further information is available from www.smartparents.info.
Following the talks, members were brought up to date on upcoming events and Club activities. This was followed by the Open Forum where questions can be asked or comments made about Expat living in Thailand, especially in Pattaya.
Member Ren Lexander interviewed Kelvin Bamfield after his presentation. To view the video visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyWDEPUHyxA
For information on PCEC activities, visit their website at http://pattayacityexpatsclub.com/.