Why should you have a Thai Will? This was the question that was answered at the Sunday, September 22 meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club. Lyndsey Rowe, Senior Client Adviser for MBMG Group Co. Ltd., provided an interesting overview of the need for creating a Thai Last Will and Testament along with a brief mention about Living Wills.
Lyndsey is a Welshman and holds an International Certificate for Financial Advisors and started his present career path in 1990 in the UK. He spent six years in Dubai and nine years in Cyprus as a Financial Consultant. He has been in Thailand for two and a half years with MBMG Group (a company that has been operating in Thailand since 1995 and manages assets of $180 million). MBMG has offices in Bangkok (headquarters), Pattaya, Phuket, Hua Hin, Singapore, and Malaysia. Lyndsey is based here in Pattaya.
Lyndsey Rowe, Senior Client Adviser for MBMG Group Co. Ltd., provided an interesting overview of the need for creating a Thai Last Will and Testament to PCEC members and guests on 22 September, along with a brief mention about Living Wills. Living Wills are documents to be left to detail what arrangements are to be taken if you are hospitalised & ‘non compus mentus’ (Not of sound mind) i.e. incapable of making rational decision re how much effort should be taken to keep you alive – ‘No Extraordinary Measures’ ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ etc, etc.
He started by mentioning that everyone needs a Will. Further, if you are married with children, a couple living together or even just single, it is vitally important that you have an up to date Last Will & Testament in place. Some people forget to update their Wills which means they could be contested, which will cause serious delays, and your assets could wind up going to people you did not want them to. He also emphasized that it is very important to have a Will for your assets in Thailand and another one for what you own overseas.
He said some of the reasons you need a Will is to allow you to decide who benefits from your estate, on the guardianship of your children in Thailand, and to avoid any unnecessary dispute between your family in Thailand and your relatives elsewhere. He also suggested you name one or more local people you trust to carry out your wishes as executors; by naming more than one, it eliminates giving this authority to solely one person. He also mentioned that having person(s) locally as executors will help to avoid delay in Thailand probate proceeding and noted that for an expat it would be difficult for someone to do from another country. For simple uncontested wills, he said probate could take up to 6 months, but would not necessarily take that long. If the Will is more complex or is contested, the probate could take from 6 months to several years.
If you do not have a Thai will to cover your assets in Thailand, he explained that your assets will be distributed in accordance with Thai law, which in order of priority will be; (1) Spouse (50%) and children (equal share of residue); (2) Parents; (3) Brothers and Sisters of full blood; (4) Brothers and Sisters of half blood; (5) Grandparents; and (6) Uncles and Aunts. If you die without a Will and have no relatives as listed in the law, then all your assets will go to the State.
Lindsey answered many questions for the PCEC crowd, who for some reason showed particular interest in the topics of Wills and Living Wills.
He mentioned that for a foreigner who owns real estate through a Thai Company, it will be shares in the company instead the actual real estate that will be passed on to your beneficiaries; which will require various legal documents to accomplish. Also, under Thai law, if you have a leasehold interest in property, you need to take the added step to include a succession clause in the lease that allows you to assign your rights under the lease to your beneficiaries; otherwise, the lease agreement will be terminated once the lessee dies. But he mentioned that you should still make a Thai Will to make clear your intention to pass on such rights to your loved ones.
Lyndsey briefly mentioned Living Wills, which are instructions given by individuals specifying what actions should be taken for their health in the event that they are no longer able to make decisions due to illness or incapacity, and appoints a person to make such decisions on their behalf.
They are recognized in Thailand, but need to conform to Ministerial Regulations that were adopted in 2010. However, he did say that it is up to the hospital to recognize such a will and follow its instructions.
He concluded by noting that his company, MBMG has a Will writing service, which involves obtaining necessary information, explaining the various ramifications, submitting everything to their Thai legal staff who will prepare a draft in English.
He will then go over the draft with you for any changes that may be needed. The final will be in English, but there will also be a copy translated into Thai. Lyndsey noted that a Will only in English is acceptable in Thailand, but would still have to be translated into Thai for probate proceedings. After answering many questions, he said that if anyone wanted to contact him for further information, they could call him at 082-201-2314 or email [email protected]
Board Member Roy Albiston conducts the Open Forum part of PCEC’s Sunday morning meetings, following the main speaker, when you may find answers to the many mysteries one encounters living in the ‘Land Of Smiles’.
After Lyndsey’s presentation, Master of Ceremonies Richard Silverberg brought everyone up to date on upcoming events and then called on Roy Albiston to conduct the always informative Open Forum; where questions are asked and answered about Expat living in Thailand.
For more information about the Club’s activities, visit their website at www.pattayacityexpatsclub.com.