Pattaya widow warns about amateur wills

Somjit has learned the hard way that last wills and testaments need to be written professionally.

The danger of going “el cheapo” when organizing your last will and testament has been highlighted by Pattaya resident Somjit Pukmoh whose British-born husband died in Thailand just one year ago. He left everything to Somjit including a sizeable bank account in the Isle of Man and a number of premium bonds, but she is still waiting for the cash.

Somjit, who runs a small restaurant on Third Road specializing in value-for-money dishes such as sausages and mash and fish and chips (both 180 baht) plus Thai favourites, said, “My husband went to the Pattaya office of a British guy who later fled the country following police investigations. The document he wrote in English turned out to be problematical as he named himself as sole executor leading to problems in the Isle of Man probate court.

She turned in considerable distress to Pattaya lawyer and immigration expert Jessataporn Sriboo, based in Jomtien, who said, “The Isle of Man is not technically part of the United Kingdom and has its own probate rules which are different from the mainland. Many documents are required and most need to be seen and stamped by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok.” It has also been necessary to appoint an Isle of Man lawyer to appear to appear in the local probate court to answer a series of technical questions.

Mr Sriboo added that many British expats now found it impossible to retain or open mainland bank accounts without a UK address. The major clearing banks have ordered many expat customers to take their business to offshore accounts in the Isle of Man or the Channel Isles. “Unless the will has been drawn up to take account of the detailed probate rules offshore, problems are inevitable,” he concluded.

Somjit said that, following long and unexpected delays made worse by the coronavirus pandemic, a formal application would be lodged with the Isle of Man authorities this month. She was hoping that the grant of probate would then speedily open her deceased husband’s bank account in the former Viking stronghold of Douglas. “It will be a huge relief as its very hard running a British restaurant in a resort where there aren’t many Brits at the moment,” she concluded.