Integrity Legal

8th November 2009

In many cases, those thinking of drafting a Thai prenuptial agreement also ponder the related issue of a Last Will and Testament in Thailand. Although both of these instruments can have an impact upon the distribution of Thai property they should not be viewed as completely complimentary devices as they serve different purposes and the drafting of these documents requires adherence to different sets of rules regarding legal formalities.

A Thai prenuptial agreement is an instrument used for the purpose of pre-designating a property distribution should a marital relationship dissolve. If the underlying marriage is registered at an Amphur office (Civil Registrar’s office) in Thailand, then the Thai prenuptial agreement must be simultaneously registered with the marriage. Failure to simultaneously register the Thai prenup could, and may very likely, result in a Thai court subsequently refusing to take notice of the prenuptial agreement when deciding how the marital estate should be divided.

A Thai will is a testamentary instrument that is used to divide the estate of a Thai or one who has died in Thailand. When drafting a will in Thailand, or in any jurisdiction, one must adhere to certain legal formalities in order to ensure that a court will enforce the provisions of the will itself. When a court divides the estate of the deceased, this process is known as probate and a probate court could throw out an improperly drafted will. This is why retaining the advice of a Thai lawyer may be advisable when drafting a new Thai will.

So-called “spouse election,” statutes should be mentioned when discussing Thai prenuptial agreements and wills for United States Citizens looking to marry Thai nationals. A “spouse election,” statute is a type of legislation that exists in many jurisdictions throughout the United States. Such legislation is designed to curb disinheritance of surviving spouses in wills or other testamentary devices. The result of “spouse election,” statutes in the USA is that the spouse of a deceased person can usually be confident that they will inherit at least 1/3 or 1/2 of the net probate estate (the actual percentage depends upon the state). Such rules are important to note for those drafting a prenuptial agreement because a prenuptial agreement should not be drafted in such a way that its provisions contravene the “spouse election” statute in the state of the US Citizen’s residence. Therefore, it may be wise to consider Wills and Prenuptial agreements as wholly separate instruments and thereby keep each of these instruments free of provisions that stray into the bailiwick of the other.


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