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Problems in Heritage Management

When a person passes away or the court order a person as a missing person. Such person's heritage is passed on to his/her heirs. Therefore, there is a problem with how the heirs will manage a heritage.

Heritage may refer to property, debts, rights, duties, and liabilities of the deceased, such as ownership of houses, cars, bank accounts, firearms, copyrights, patents, claims that a creditor has over a debtor, etc.

Heirs who have the right to inherit may be statutory heirs or testamentary heirs. The law stipulates that there are 6 classes of statutory heirs: (1) descendants (2) parents (3) brothers and sisters of full blood (4) brother and sisters of half blood (5) grandparents (6) uncles and aunts. For spouses, if the statutory heirs are still alive, the class and division of the spouses for inheritance shall be as prescribed by law.

For heritage that does not have much property, debts or conflict among the heirs, heritage management is not difficult at all. On the contrary, if the heritage has both property and debts, that is, being both the creditor or the debtor, it may cause problems in the collection of heritage and debt collection which the heritage is deemed as the creditor. Therefore, there must be heritage management before dividing it among the heirs.

Problems in managing the heritage or collecting the debt that other persons owe the de cujus are often seen, such as land officers refuse to transfer ownership of the land to the heirs, or banks refuse to pay because there is no clear evidence that the person is a lawful heir. For this reason, it is important to request the court to appoint an administrator.

A petitioner has a stake in the heritage, and when there is an obstacle in managing the heritage, the petitioner has the right to request to be the administrator of the heritage him/herself. An application for an appointment of the administrator must be submitted to the court where the de cujus is domiciled at the time of his/her death. If the de cujus does not have a domicile in the Kingdom, the petitioner shall file the application with the court where the heritage is located. For heritage without heirs, although such heritage of the deceased will pass on to the state, the state is not an heir. As a result, the creditor cannot force to repay the debts until the administrator of the heritage is appointed. And without the administrator, the creditor is unable to receive the debt repayment at all. That is, how the creditor will receive the debt repayment from the heritage depends on whether there is the administrator of such heritage. In this case, the creditor must be regarded as a stakeholder and has the right to file the application to the court requesting the appointment of the administrator.

For a life partner of the de cujus who cohabits without a marriage registration, although he/she is not a statutory heir, he/she has a stake in their property. As a result, such life partner is also entitled to request to be the administrator of the heritage.

The important duties of the administrator include finding the heirs, collecting the heritage, as well as collecting the debts which the heritage is deemed as the creditor, do a heritage and management account, repay the heritage debt to creditors, and divide the heritage to the heirs, etc.

For the appointment of the administrator, the persons having the right to request the court to order the appointment of the administrator of the heritage are the statutory heirs of the de cujus, such as children, parents, spouses of the de cujus, testamentary heirs of the de cujus who could be a third party, stakeholders which mean the joint owner of the de cujus’ property, for example, in the case where a husband and wife do not register their marriage and share property, or prosecutors can also request the court to order the appointment of the administrator.

After submitting the application to appoint the administrator, the court will conduct an inquiry. In general, the court will conduct the inquiry after receiving such application for about 1 month due to the process of publishing newspapers in case any person raises any objection. For the inquiry, the petitioner has to come to court and bring another witness, such as other heirs, to investigate whether they will give their consent for the petitioner to become an administrator. A juristic person may be the administrator because there are no laws forbidding to do so, such as in the case of temples, an abbot or the Thai Red Cross Society who is a juristic person can act as the administrator.

When the court orders the appointment of the administrator, the administrator can present the court order as evidence to the bank to withdraw the de cujus' money or submit it to the officers or related persons to allow the management of the heritage to continue.

If the administrator ignores, fails to manage the heritage, or manages the heritage badly, carelessly or dishonestly, such as misappropriation of the heritage. Such administrator may be withdrawn from being the administrator, and it is also deemed as a criminal offense for embezzlement. Withdrawal of the administrator must be performed before the division of the heritage is completed. The law on the appointment of the administrator aims for the division of the heritage to be done in an orderly and fair manner, transparent and verifiable. If the deceased has made a will on his/her property by specifying the administrator or any person to appoint the administrator or to perform other acts that may be enforced upon the death of the testator, the management of the heritage must be following the will and intention of the deceased which are specified in the will.


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