What would happen to your house if your Thai partner passed away?

We have been hearing from many clients that they would like to understand their rights to living in the Marital home if their Thai Partner passed away.

As most Foreigners know, here in Thailand, we cannot own land in our name due to the Land Codes restrictions. However, this does not mean that you will always lose the house if your Thai spouse pre-deceases you.

Here we will try to help explain what rules are in place, both from the Statutory rights to Inherit Land and what legal processes need to be in place for everything to happen as per your wishes.

The Land Code states that a Foreign spouse may inherit up to one Rai of land owned by the Thai spouse upon their early demise.

As long as there is:

  1. Legal Thai Will in place OR
  2. A statutory arrangement under the Civil and Commercial Code that leaves the land plot to you, the foreign spouse.

The statement below is an extract from the Code:

Section 93
For an alien who acquires land by inheritance as a legal heir, the Minister may permit the acquisition of such land, which, when combined with the land already owned, does not exceed the limit under Section 87.

Section 87
The amount of land permitted under the preceding Section shall be as follows:

  1.   for residence, not more than 1 rai per family;
  2.   for commercial purposes, not more than 1 rai;
  3.   for industrial purposes, not more than 10 rai;
  4.   for agricultural purposes, not more than 10 rai per family;
  5.   for religious purposes, not more than 1 rai;
  6.   for public charity purposes, not more than 5 rai;
  7.   for cemeterial purposes, not more than ½ rai per family;

The criteria to comply with these rules means certain points must be adhered to; please see below:

  1. The marriage must be legally binding, with proof of marriage being able to be shown on request. This can be at a local Thai district office or a Thai Embassy outside of Thailand. You can also have a Foreign Marriage that is registered at a local district office where you live.
  2. As a Foreign spouse, you must also look to obtain permission from the Minister of Interior affairs.
  3. The plot of land that you wish to Inherit must be no more than One Rai in total land size.
  4. As long as the above Point 3 is true and accurate and the owned land is not more than One Rai, you will not be forced to sell the Land.
  5. Once the land has been legally inherited by the Foreign spouse from the deceased Thai spouse, you must then seek permission first if you wish to sell the land and house from the Minister. There are slightly different rules in Bangkok, where this task is given to the Director-General of the Department of Land. For all other land outside of Bangkok, the Minister will delegate this responsibility to the local, provincial governor where the land plot is located.

Having lived here for 11 years and married a Thai, we found this information only recently from a Thai lawyer that I connect with in business. No one ever told me that we could arrange our own situation like this. We had made a legal arrangement that paying rent and having a small debt against the property would be sufficient; whilst potentially working, it was not what you would call a Bib and Braces approach, so off we went to have the I’s dotted and T’s crossed.

Don’t let rumours or hearsay be the process that you go through to protect your future here, make sure that you contact a lawyer and have this simple exercise carried out. Whilst many people think it is not important to have a Will, in this case where your main residence is at stake, I would hurry and find out that certificate of marriage and have your spouse make a Will.

Here at Corestone, we can help put you in contact with our trusted partners that can assist with a Will, Living Will and Power of Attorney.

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