This is Thailand

 |  February 27, 2010

For those of you with any questions regarding Thailand, Thai culture, history, tourism, laws, rules, food, nightlife, sub-cultures, dating; generally anything as long as it is relevant,
we have a panel of three experts who will respond to your enquiries.

1. I recently went to Ban Chiang, where I bought several cheap (55 baht) reproductions of the famous pottery. A friend would like to buy some and I was wondering if you knew of anywhere in Chiang Mai where similar ancient-looking items of unglazed pottery are available? All the items of pottery that I have seen in Chiang Mai are always glazed.

Hariphunchai (Lamphun) unglazed pottery dates from the 10th century. Genuine and fake wares can be found in antique shops. A much finer type of unglazed pottery was made from about 1400 AD until the mid 16th century. Less sophisticated unglazed water-coolers are still made today.

2. I have just written my last will and testament following a European guideline. However as I am resident in Thailand (as are my children who are my sole beneficiaries) and all of my money is here, I wondered if there are any requirements which are different. Should I leave a copy with my lawyer for example? Is there such a thing as bonds here? I would appreciate your advice.

(actually a lawyer I know): I don’t know the difference between rules in the European guidelines and Thai law but I suggest that, if you, a foreigner, want to make a will about your assets or properties that are in Thailand, it is much better to do it in accordance with the law of Thailand to make sure that the will can be enforced in Thailand.

In Thailand you can make a will at any district (amphur) office by giving your intentions to the authorised official and the official will make a will for you, in Thai only, and after you sign the will, it will be kept in the office until your beneficiary asks to open it with evidence to show your death. This way is not easy for a foreigner because you need to take an interpreter and two witnesses with you and you have to take the risk of signing a will that you may not be able to understand.

Therefore if you have someone you can trust, no matter if he/she is living in Thailand or not, I recommend you leave your will with him/her. After you die your beneficiary can just take the will to any law office in Thailand asking a lawyer to help to get your assets. Because in Thailand (even though you have a will to show you are the beneficiary) you can’t claim assets stated in the will – in this case asking the bank to give money – without a court order.

According to ‘Thai Law for Foreigners’, Paiboon Publishing, a will is valid in Thailand if it is signed and witnessed by two people over the age of 20 with full mental capacities. The will can be in Thai or your native language. If it was brought in from abroad it needs to be translated into Thai. It would probably be a good idea to translate even your local will into Thai. Even though it isn’t required it is recommended that you see a lawyer just to be sure everything is covered and consistent with Thai laws, especially since you say all your money is here. If you have foreign assets then the will should state what should be done with them. If you have minor children then you might state who should take care of them in your will. This is not binding in the courts but at least it will tell them of your wishes. The will should be kept in a safe place, with a lawyer, a trusted friend, or in a bank deposit box.

In my experience the executor, who is nominated in the will, is the most important player. It is he who has to deal with the banks and the court.

3. Like a lot of folk I have several pairs of ‘old prescription’ spectacles lying around my home. In Australia we used to have a charity group that would arrange to pass them onto people whose daily lives were hampered by the fact that they could not see sufficiently to lead a productive life. From memory most of the spectacles went to Bangladesh and some Pacific Island nations. What we take for granted, i.e. normal sight, is a luxury many people don’t have and I have searched for a similar charity in Chiang Mai, and beyond, without luck.

With Citylife’s network of contacts can you help or could Citylife take this on as another community service? I’m sure with the number of retirees living in CM, with unwanted glasses, we could make a real impact on others’ lives.

We have donated many old pairs of glasses to the McKean Institute who have excellent connections with the needy.

4. I am planning a trip out of Thailand for two months during March and April and I am looking for recommendations for a reliable Travel Insurance.

You might want to try the insurance forum on for advice.
I should have done that on my last trip. I wound up in the ER my first day back. But it was a medical problem, not an accident. Remember that there are different kinds of insurance and some will only cover accidents occurring during your travels and not illness. That would not have helped me. P.S. I ended up paying in full with a debit card, which so surprised them that I was automatically given half off. With that discount I think I paid less than I would have had to pay a travel insurance company to cover me.