Issues for Inheritance

Anything and everything about Thailand
Post Reply
RichLB
Posts: 1176
Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 4:13 pm
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 76 times

Issues for Inheritance

Post by RichLB »

Any advice will be appreciated.

Recently an acquaintance (Thai) suffered the death of his long term farang partner. Fortunately, the farang did have a will, but the lawyer told him it would take 7 months before any benefits from the will could be distributed. This prompted me to review my preparations.

I do have a Thai will and a US will but it's been a long time since these were established. I had also initiated a Transfer on Death affidavit with my brokerage account in the USA. I thought I had everything covered, but I've discovered that may not be the case.

First off, after several years, my account manager in the US told me that they could not do a Transfer on Death for a foreign national. Nice of them to let me know a decade after I filed the TOD! Anyway, is this refusal to honor the TOD unique to my brokerage account or will other entities execute it?

I've also discovered my lawyer in the US is retiring and moving out of the state this fall. He is the executor of my US will, but will not be able to serve as such once he leaves California. Anyone know how to get a new executor and do I have to write a brand new will?

I've also been advised to establish a Revocable Trust so my heirs can avoid inheritance taxes. Thailand does not have trust accounts so it would only be for US assets. Can I do a Revocable Trust from Thailand to cover US assets? If so, can anyone recommend an honest and competent lawyer here in Pattaya who can speak both Thai and English?

Another issue which worries me is that my Thai lawyer has now retired and moved to Bangkok. I assume my Thai will is being saved in his Pattaya law firm office, but he has been designated executor of the Thai will. Do I need a new Thai lawyer and new executor? Any suggestions?

And finally, does anyone have advice on how my partner (my sole heir) can avoid the long delay before receiving his inheritance either from Thailand or the US? I have established a joint bank account here, but surprisingly my bank told me he can only have access to half of it until the will is processed. I have no idea if this is just my bank's policy or if it is universal here in Thailand. Seems crazy to me.

Thanks for wading through all this. Any input will be super appreciated.

User avatar
ceejay
Posts: 355
Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 7:01 pm
Has thanked: 11 times
Been thanked: 41 times

Re: Issues for Inheritance

Post by ceejay »

I would not assume that your existing Thai lawyer has made arrangements to cover the administration of your Thai will. If he is named as executor as an individual, then if he predeceases you, there could be a problem.
Have you considered a new Thai will naming your partner as executor? To get probate he could always ask for the advice of a lawyer if he felt he needed it, but he would have control of the process.
Do you own a condo? Do you have a yellow book? You can lodge a will at your local district office if you have a yellow book and, if there is a sole beneficiary, it is, I believe a simple document. The process is cheap.
If you have a condo, you could consider transferring it to your partner now, with a 30-year lease back to you, which would probably extend beyond your life expectancy. The condo then automatically reverts to your partner upon your death - no will required. This is, unlike a will, irrevocable.

Americans will have to help you with the American issues. One question: Have you considered marriage? I have an American friend who married under American law (but Washington State rather than California) and it gave his partner many more and clearer property rights after death.

User avatar
windwalker
Posts: 1461
Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:59 am
Has thanked: 243 times
Been thanked: 80 times

Re: Issues for Inheritance

Post by windwalker »

RichLB, You say you have a partner, sole heir, but then you mention your heirs. Does that mean your sole heir in Thailand and other heirs in the USA?
You also mention a Trust in USA.
I had a friend who died a year or so ago who had a condo and some assets in Thailand (800,000 in Bank Account) and a substantial Trust Fund in USA (Calif) which, supposedly, all was to go to his Thai friend. The Thai friend did get the condo and that was all. Who got the Trust Fund? My guess is the lawyer in USA!

I suggest you get a new lawyer and a new Will in Thailand and somehow get things taken care of in USA. And name your partner as Executor in your Thai Will. If the Trust is also to go to your partner, then be very careful on who you use as an American lawyer and make sure your partner has a copy of everything.

Thai Living Law on Thappraya Road Pattaya seems to be decent as they handled my friend's Thai Estate.
They are next to Marco's Restaurant.

You are wise to get this taken care of. Another friend who died just recently had an existing Will that was 12 years old and wanted to update it and even wrote a draft but procrastinated and never got beyond that stage. He died suddenly and those who were intended to receive something were left out! Even his car was stolen a week after his death and any money left in his safe was missing. One can never be too careful in Thailand.

Thia Living Law
Address: 306/90-91 Thappraya Rd, Pattaya City, Bang Lamung District, Chon Buri 20150
Hours:
Open ⋅ Closes 6PM
Phone: 038 251 323

RichLB
Posts: 1176
Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 4:13 pm
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 76 times

Re: Issues for Inheritance

Post by RichLB »

Thanks so much for your response. I, too, have heard horror stories of disposition of assets after death. That's why I decided to get things clarified while I'm still kicking. I do have both a Thai will and US will (written in the states) but have discovered one of the detriments of getting old is that one can outlive your lawyers and executors. It never entered my mind that they might actually retire or die.
I have made a couple discoveries while exploring this. One is that US IRA accounts can designate a beneficiary outside of probate. At least I've been told that. Same for life insurance policies. I still have to find out if a revocable trust for US assets can be established from Thailand. Unfortunately, Thailand does not recognize trusts so heirs must go through probate unless a lawyer can find a work-around.
Again, thanks so much for your response. I really appreciate it.

billyhouston
Posts: 93
Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2010 5:16 am
Location: Chiang Mai
Has thanked: 19 times
Been thanked: 9 times

Re: Issues for Inheritance

Post by billyhouston »

I would never, under any circumstances, appoint a lawyer as my executor. My Thai will (alternate paragraphs Thai - English) appoints my partner as executor and sole benficiary. My UK will has my niece, 25 years younger than I, as executor and both she and my partner are among the beneficiaries. My partner is well known to my niece and her family; she can be trusted. My partner is not Thai, but Shan, so it's very important to have the Thai side of things carefully arranged. I know that death may seem a long time away but it is inevitable, which makes it important to have one's affairs in order.

RichLB
Posts: 1176
Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 4:13 pm
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 76 times

Re: Issues for Inheritance

Post by RichLB »

Can you fill me in on why you would not use a lawyer as executor? My Thai partner and sole heir is a wonderful person, but he would never be able to handle the intricacies of administering an estate. The problem I have with executing my US will is that I no longer know anyone in the US well enough to burden with the responsibilities. I guess that's one of the consequences of out living everyone.

User avatar
windwalker
Posts: 1461
Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:59 am
Has thanked: 243 times
Been thanked: 80 times

Re: Issues for Inheritance

Post by windwalker »

Just because someone is an Executor, doesn't mean they cannot hire a lawyer to do the actual work. I have been an Executor in the USA and have hired lawyers to do the actual legal work. The same is true in Thailand.
However if you have no one in the USA, who you can trust as an Executor, then a lawyer may be your only choice. You should not appoint your partner as Executor for your Estate in the USA.

User avatar
Bob
Posts: 1045
Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:03 pm
Been thanked: 36 times

Re: Issues for Inheritance

Post by Bob »

I also would never name a lawyer as executor of my estate, whether for my Thai estate or US estate (the main but not only reason for this view is due to the cost). In my view, I'd recommend appointing your partner given it appears he is your sole beneficiary. He easily can hire a Thai lawyer to handle what parts of your Thai estate need be probated and, while it won't be as easy, there's no reason that your partner (or the Thai lawyer he chooses) can't engage a US lawyer to handle what parts of your US estate that must be probated. Also would note:

(1) It sounds to me that your "US estate" consists entirely of financial accounts (an IRA account and a brokerage account). I've never heard even once that a "foreigner" cannot be the beneficiary of any type of financial account that allows straight beneficiaries. You obviously know that about your IRA account(s) and life insurance but I'd recommend re-contacting your brokerage account people to clarify what they are saying there (if they allow a named beneficiary, I'd bet a few baht that you can name your partner).

(2) To alter your named executors in your Wills, all you need are a codicils to your existing Will. Any competent lawyer can handle that for you.

(3) To the extent you feel you have no choice but to name a "US" executor for your US estate, you could choose to make a bank as the executor. Not the ideal situation (banks too charge excessive executor fees in my opinion) but at least you don't need to worry about a named executor retiring or taking a dirt nap.

(4) It would be wise for you to leave a letter or missive to your partner clearly explaining what you own out there and what needs to be done for him to obtain it. For example only, that he'd need to get a few death certifications from the US embassy/consulate so he can use them to obtain your IRA accounts, etc. With respect to a US IRA account, things get complicated. For example, because you are already drawing on your IRA, your partner (regardless of age) would also have to do so and he would also have to file a US tax return annually to deal with those annual monies (god forbid he chooses to take all of it the first year as that would likely raise the percentage of taxes that would have to be paid). To the extent your partner (likely wisely) continues to choose to take annual payments (which would be based on his age....so surely lower per year that what you are receiving....although he would have the power to order larger annual payments), he would need to create a special (inherited) IRA account to "roll over" your IRA account balance. Like I said, somewhat complicated. Your life insurance isn't a problem....it isn't taxed and all your partner would need to do is present a death certification and fill out some form with the insurance company.

Further, in this missive, would your partner need to gain access to your email account(s)? If so, you might want to include your password for same as well as passwords for other important accounts. While we're at it, if you want your partner to notify anybody about your death, it obviously would be wise to include the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and/or email addresses for those people.

(5) The biggest problem in my view for us that have Thai partners (who we normally financially support partially or entirely) is the 6-7 months time it takes to complete a Thai probate, i.e., how does one's partner financially survive during that time period (monthly expenses, costs of your services, etc.). To the extent you trust your Thai partner's financial sense 100%, you could set up a Thai bank account in his name with funds for those needs; however, to the extent you don't quite reach that 100% trust level, then you'll have to figure out some other way of softening the financial blow during that time period (perhaps cash in a safe at home for that purpose?).

RichLB
Posts: 1176
Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 4:13 pm
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 76 times

Re: Issues for Inheritance

Post by RichLB »

You guys are fantastic. I so appreciate the advice and knowledge you've shared with me. It's doing a lot to relieve my stress. To other expats living here, I urge you to prepare things for your inevitable passing. It's not fun to do, but really important for the protection of those who survive you.

User avatar
windwalker
Posts: 1461
Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:59 am
Has thanked: 243 times
Been thanked: 80 times

Re: Issues for Inheritance

Post by windwalker »

I caution anyone about having large amounts of money in a safe. If one dies at home,( rather than a hospital) the first thing the police will do is access the safe to get the passport of the deceased. If one has a partner, he should first call the lawyer and have them come to the house before the police arrive.Also to have the Passport readily available. Or tell your partner to clear out any significant money and stash it where it cannot be found. Likewise do not leave PIN numbers to your ATM cards in your safe.

Post Reply