Death is inevitable; it can happen to any one of us regardless of age, health, and whereabouts. However, this shouldn’t stop us from planning vacations and traveling the world.
However, when death does happen; people from all over the world have different ways of dealing with it. As such, following the death of a loved one in a foreign country, bereaved families will be facing different state laws and religious customs.
If a foreigner dies in Thailand, their home embassy will handle their death accordingly. There can be several circumstances depending on if they married a national, own state property, or have a will. Without a will, Thailand follows a 6 class procedure for legal heirs and expenses.
It goes without saying that the sudden passing of a loved one is a deeply traumatic time for the relatives left behind. For both the deceased and the families of the deceased, it is essential to be prepared for such an eventuality.
*Please note that this article offers advice to ex-pats who wish to get their affairs in order to make the grieving process easier on family members after their death. From whichever perspective you are reading, find out what should be done (before and after) the death of a foreigner in Thailand.
What Happens if a Foreigner Dies in Thailand?
Ex-pats in Thailand must undergo a necessary process to ensure their loved ones, and their own body is dealt with properly.
The arrangement of dealing with your body and allocation of your resources can be a lengthy process depending on various circumstances. Some of these include whether or not you own property or have a bank account in the country, even if there are insignificant funds in it.
Reporting the Death & Issuance of Death Certificate
When you die in Thailand, the first thing that would happen would be that a coroner receives your body and calls your country’s embassy for the passport you are holding. Whether or not you might have two passports or dual nationality, they will only consider the passport by which you entered the country.
Next, the embassy will notify the next of kin or emergency contact. The office will go above and beyond to contact anyone from your family.
You will receive a death certificate from Thailand and one from your country. Let’s say you are an American national- your country will also provide a definitive American document about your death. (Source)
What Happens to Your Body & Resources
Afterward, what happens to your body truly depends on what your next of kin wants or if you have prescribed your burial and expense needs in your will. The embassy will generally make arrangements with the Thai government and create a Consular Report of Death Abroad. The family pays the costs of this.
Will’s are essential as it is the crucial element of what will go through a lawyer who administrates what will go to whom. If there is no will, your account is expected to remain untouched for ten years if nobody claims the money. Afterward, it will go to the government.
Approximately 90% of people who die without a will in the country have relatives with no desire to come to a foreign country and deal with the body or resources. (Source)
How to Prepare a Will in Thailand
To prepare a will, you must understand what you want when you die. Who will be your next of kin, and how do you expect to be buried and divide your finances?
It will usually cost around 50,000 THB (1,450 USD), but some people have cheap ways of creating a will. As a will is a handwritten document specifying what you desire, it also requires two key witnesses to see you sign the papers.
It is specified that you leave your will with your attorney. If you are a foreigner, you can even make a will in Thailand, which will speed up the process when the papers go through the court. (Source)
Six Classes of Legal Heirs
On the official website of the Thai Embassy, you can find the Thai laws for dealing with death. To be deemed “enforceable” in the country, the website states that you must follow Thai rules.
Wills foreigners can make in the country include Sections 1655 to 1672 of the Civil and Commercial Code.
While the mission assists the deceased person’s death and confirms it with supporting documents, it is essential to have a will. If you do not, the Thai Inheritance and Succession law is applied.
The estate assets are divided amongst legal heirs. The legal heirs are as followed:
- Full blood sisters and brothers
- Half-blood sisters and brothers
- Uncles and aunts
In addition to these groups, assets also go to the spouse under article 1636. Although they won’t receive 50% of your finances, they are still considered high class. Article 1639 also states that foreigners can inherit from their spouses if they are Thai nationals.
Under section 93 of the Land Code Act, foreigners can acquire property through inheritance and have ownership after getting approval from the interior minister on shares. Furthermore, these shares must not succeed the limits mentioned in section 87 of the code. (Source)
Cost of Cremation in Thailand (Thai Funerals)
There is no adequately defined cost of how much a funeral or cremation in Thailand can cost. This depends on the location, for example, if it takes place in the central city of Bangkok or Chiang Rai.
Costs also depend on the type of funeral. You should note that the funeral of a foreigner in Thailand will have the exact price of a local in the country. (Source)
Can a Foreigner Be Cremated in Thailand?
If you are married to a Thai man/woman, and the person wants their cremation or to be buried in Thailand, the embassy will allow them to do so. As long as the legal kin is there or instructions are prescribed, the burial can occur in the country. (Source)
What to Do if You Find a Dead Body in Thailand?
If you find a dead body, you can call the emergency services instead of the embassy directly.
Refrain from dealing with the logistics as the police officers and emergency staff know how to deal with foreigners and embassies. However, there have been particular circumstances where the spouse has contacted the embassy themselves if needed. (Source)
As a frequent traveler, it is imperative to be prepared in emergencies. Death is unpredictable and can touch us at the most unexpected times.
It is convenient to create a will, especially if you are older, earning money, and supporting a family; having everything written down can allow for law and order to keep your own decisions.
In contrast, you won’t have the right to do so later. Additionally, foreign countries are highly respectful of decisions of varying religious status and family needs. Embassies in Thailand have the utmost duty to take care of a loved one’s body and have them returned to their home country, as wished.
Like always, if you want to learn more about Thailand, stay with ThaiGuider. You might discover something you never knew about this unique country.
▸ Learn more about Thai funerals here: What Happens at Thai Funerals? (4 Ways To Pay Respect)
Location & Access
Value for Money