Preparing for the inevitable

by Nick Argles

As a single man living in Thailand and now 63 years old I want to make arrangements for when I do check out and I thought that I am perhaps not the only one so I asked the British Embassy what plans I should make. I do not know if writing about it will help anyone else but it will spur me into making plans so as not to burden my next of kin, my daughter Madeleine. She lives in the UK and has three children under 6 so has more than enough on her plate.

What happens on upon death of a foreign subject whilst in Thailand. Who is involved, police, doctors, hospital, embassy, coroner?

There are two scenarios which can apply to the death of a foreign subject in Thailand;

1) Passed away at home – police will notify the death to the embassy.

2) Passed away at hospital – the hospital will notify the death to the embassy.

The local authorities require a letter from the embassy for the body to be released for funeral arrangements and for official documents regarding death.

What are the options available to a foreign subject in Thailand – burial, cremation, etc.

Burial, cremation and body repatriation are the available options to a foreign subject in Thailand. However, burial is rare due to the cost. Usually, the family would rather have the body repatriated to the UK or have the body cremated and the ashes sent to the UK.

NA: Cremation for me please but I do not want the ashes sent back – bit too morbid for me and what would my family do with them?

How can one prepare for the inevitable if you have, or do not have family in Thailand?

It would be best to let the family either in the UK or Thailand know your preferences regarding funeral arrangements. However, if they do not have anyone, they could appoint someone they are close with to arrange the funeral with written authorisation.

NA: OK I have prepared a letter in case of my demise – please adhere to requests with dignity. 

Several candles stand on wooden shelf

What costs are involved?

Cost may vary depends on how a family decides to arrange funeral. If an undertaker is appointed, then the only payment the family needs to make is for the agreed price to do everything on behalf of the family. If the family decides to arrange a funeral locally by themselves, costs may involve transportation to collect the deceased from the hospital morgue, morgue fee, embalmment fee, and cremation fee which may be charged by the temple where cremation will take place.

NA: OK will arrange and pay for it in advance so no one in the UK need be concerned apart from saying a quiet prayer for me wherever they are when they are informed. I am not afraid of death so when it comes I hope that it will be relatively painless, swift and not involve or injure anyone else.

What about wills? Is a will drawn up by a lawyer in the UK sufficient in Thailand or do you have to have a sworn, witnessed will created here in Thailand by a Thai lawyer?

The family is advised to check with a lawyer and local authorities on the validity of the will issued in the UK since each person may have different circumstances.

NA: I have prepared a will in the UK but now it seems that there is indecision here I will get one prepared here too. I have not got much to leave anyway but the way I have seen the Thais squabble and fight over material things. I certainly do not want the Thai government to get whatever I have left when I go – sorry it’s just how I feel.

Is there a checklist of items to consider? 

There is a guidance available on GOV.UK with details to help through the practical arrangements a person needs to make.

If there are no dependents or relatives living in Thailand what happens to goods and chattels? How can one make provision because I am sure that people would like to do so rather than all proceeds go in to the Thai government?

Police may consider leave the deceased’s belongings in the house or taking them to store at the police station. A person should make sure that they have a written statement confirming who can manage their belongings.

NA: I have left a list of items that I would like returned to my daughter in the UK and the rest I would be left to my landlady’s Khun Prateep Ungsongtham Hata who is in my mind the nearest thing I know to a living saint. She heads up the Duang Prateep Foundation 02 249 3553 and I know will selflessly dispose of any goods and chattels left.

My English lawyer in Bangkok is Philip Sweeney of Opus Law [email protected] 02 168 7565 a first class English gentleman if I may say so.

My daughter has a copy of this document [email protected]

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