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BANGKOK 17 October 2018 07:07
HarmonyP

Law question regarding inheritance - Family dispute

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Firstly sorry if this is in the wrong section. Secondly I know I probably need more legal advise but I am posting this in the hope someone has a similar experience or can think of something I am missing.

 

So about 6 months ago my Father passed away in Bangkok from a heart attack. It was a bit of a shock but thinking about it now not really. He liked to party several nights of the week until the early mornings even with his previous health conditions. He had been living in Thailand for the last 12 years, originally from the US.

 

Shortly after his passing I visited Thailand for the first time. He had been asking me to come over the last few years but it never ended up happening. Now I have been I can see why he liked it here so much 🙂 My grandfather had also been living out there for the last few years with him.

 

My father was somewhat wealthy, owned a few condos and a hotel. I know in Thailand foreigners can't own more than 49% of a company/land so he partnered up with a Thai man that I will call "Bob" as I can't remember his name. Bob had people working under him who each owned a small shared of the company. From my brief research I believe this is very common.

 

I was never really that close with my Father or Grandfather but up until a few weeks ago my Grandfather had been in contact regularly. I recently found out that 100% (of the 49% share we can hold) of the company has been moved into my granddads name. My father never had a will but he had my granddad on the company with a small percentage share. He also had a role in the company, not too sure what it was but something along the lines of company manager. I have been in contact with a lawyer and they have made it aware to me that wealth gets distributed to both children and parents unlike here in the west.

 

After getting in contact with my granddad he made it clear to me that "this was his wishes" even though my father told me completely differently. After also reaching the Thai company "owner" Bob he seemed to want to take my grandfathers side telling me to wait a few years until he dies but with no guarantee it will even come to me. I believe they are good friends and he maybe slipping him some extra money to be on his side.

 

So far I believe I have two options. Take my grandfather to court in Thailand or take him to court in the US. As we are both US citizens I have been told that's possible to take him to court here but under Thai law but it will be expensive.

 

I think that's everything I can think of off the top of my head. Any advise/questions/resources will be greatly appreciated. I want to take him to court in Thailand but I am worried there will be long court delays, possible corruption?? as Bob is quite well known and I am not sure how the whole 49% situation will play out even if I win. Will Bob tell me to go <deleted> myself still?

 

Also I read somewhere that I may not be my fathers "legitimate" son in the eyes of the law as my parents never got married? Has anyone got experience with that? A Thai layer I contacted said I would just need to apply for something in court.

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Posted (edited)

Avoid Thai courts. They are a  hundred years behind western law .It will take forever to get a resolution. Right or wrong it is the opinion of the judge that has precedence, not the law as a westerner understands it.

Avoid at all costs. I have recently been witness to one criminal case and 4 civil cases. What an eye opener.

Lawyers will milk it for everything they can not to mention other nefarious payments that may or not be involved. I hope you are rich and very patient if you choose a Thai legal system.

Edited by johnmcc6
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On 10/9/2018 at 5:04 PM, johnmcc6 said:

Avoid Thai courts. They are a  hundred years behind western law .It will take forever to get a resolution. Right or wrong it is the opinion of the judge that has precedence, not the law as a westerner understands it.

Avoid at all costs. I have recently been witness to one criminal case and 4 civil cases. What an eye opener.

Lawyers will milk it for everything they can not to mention other nefarious payments that may or not be involved. I hope you are rich and very patient if you choose a Thai legal system.

Thanks for the reply. I'll have too look into it more before going down that route. I don't want to believe it can be that corrupt.

 

My main concern is the Bob Thai guys that controls 51% of the company. I am shocked my father even gave someone 51% of his company, is it a rare thing for Thais to run off with foreigners companies? What kind of fees does he charge?

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11 hours ago, HarmonyP said:

Thanks for the reply. I'll have too look into it more before going down that route. I don't want to believe it can be that corrupt.

 

My main concern is the Bob Thai guys that controls 51% of the company. I am shocked my father even gave someone 51% of his company, is it a rare thing for Thais to run off with foreigners companies? What kind of fees does he charge?

No expert here but I was under the impression a Thai must hold 51 percent-as farrang not allowed to own anything. Same as a condo complex must be owned by 51% Thai.

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On 10/9/2018 at 2:27 AM, HarmonyP said:

Also I read somewhere that I may not be my fathers "legitimate" son in the eyes of the law as my parents never got married?

Under Thai law, you are not his legal son, and aren't in line for inheritance.

(unless you previously had a ruling in Thai family court to legitimize your birth, or there's a will)

 

Thailand doesn't automatically recognize children out of wedlock.

Edited by BritManToo

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58 minutes ago, johnmcc6 said:

No expert here but I was under the impression a Thai must hold 51 percent-as farrang not allowed to own anything.

Different rules for American citizens.

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I know the OP said that all the key players are in Bangkok, so perhaps he needs to look around for a law firm in Bangkok that has an American lawyer on staff.  Here in Chiang Mai, Lanna Lawyers has both an American and an Australian lawyer on staff, in addition to their Thai lawyers, so that makes it very easy for us resident expats to handle legal matters both in our home countries and here in Thailand.  For example, having Final Wills to take care of our assets in both countries, something the OP's father should have done.

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The OP says, “I was never really that close with my Father or Grandfather but up until a few weeks ago my Grandfather had been in contact regularly.“

 

Altho, “Grandfather had been in contact regularly” OP did not stay in touch nor visit so it seems the grandfather did try but the OP could not be bothered until now that the piñata is hanging overhead.

 

So now all that nice wealth is in the grandfather’s hands and it looks like best thing OP can do is try to get along with the grandfather because all he needs to do is stir grandpa up and grandpa will just make a will that cuts him out.  As opposed possibly to the opposite if he talks nice.

 

This might seem harsh but thats the way it looks...

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1 hour ago, chaz2 said:

The OP says, “I was never really that close with my Father or Grandfather but up until a few weeks ago my Grandfather had been in contact regularly.“

 

Altho, “Grandfather had been in contact regularly” OP did not stay in touch nor visit so it seems the grandfather did try but the OP could not be bothered until now that the piñata is hanging overhead.

 

So now all that nice wealth is in the grandfather’s hands and it looks like best thing OP can do is try to get along with the grandfather because all he needs to do is stir grandpa up and grandpa will just make a will that cuts him out.  As opposed possibly to the opposite if he talks nice.

 

This might seem harsh but thats the way it looks...

That's one risk I have thought over. But I really don't think I will get it, we are not his closest Grandchildren and he has other children too. I feel I will be near the bottom of his list.

 

On 10/12/2018 at 10:08 AM, johnmcc6 said:

No expert here but I was under the impression a Thai must hold 51 percent-as farrang not allowed to own anything. Same as a condo complex must be owned by 51% Thai.

Yes as posted I think that's why it's in the Thai peoples name that I mentioned as "Bob".

 

On 10/12/2018 at 11:05 AM, BritManToo said:

Under Thai law, you are not his legal son, and aren't in line for inheritance.

(unless you previously had a ruling in Thai family court to legitimize your birth, or there's a will)

 

Thailand doesn't automatically recognize children out of wedlock.

I have been informed that I would need to apply for something along the lines of administration of his assets. Not sure if it's a common thing but luckily my father registered me at birth on my birth certificate so there is that proof. Because of this I have been told by a Thai lawyer that wont be an issue and the assets should be split evenly between me and my Grandfather (as parents also inherent by Thai law, my Fathers mother died 10+ years ago.) Is it a common thing for Thai lawyers to request a % of winnings? they want to go down that route rather than a fixed fee. It kinda of makes me confident that they think we will win but obviously they gain more too.

Edited by HarmonyP

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Tax and reporting rules for Americans overseas -- especially those who own foreign businesses -- are very complicated. If your father was not exceptionally diligent in complying with those rules, then putting his estate into compliance with those rules will be difficult and costly. As administrator, you'd be personally responsible for US tax compliance. Point is, before undertaking to administer his estate, take a close look at everything it would involve.

 

As to the shares, if your father transferred them to your grandfather before his death, then the shares are no longer part of his estate. Perhaps the transfer can be attacked and set aside on various grounds, but this is usually a very difficult task.

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