Free counselling for foreign retirees

Free counselling for foreign retirees

A man takes a stroll in Benchasiri Park on Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok. (File photo by Bangkok Post)

Thailand is stepping up its assistance for foreign retirees and their Thai spouses by providing free counselling on inheritance and other legal issues under international laws.

This support is being carried out by the Office of International Peoples’ Rights Protection, which falls under the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).

The kingdom has become a popular destination for foreign retirees to spend the rest of their days, where they can enjoy its advanced healthcare system, low cost of living, good weather and culture.

In cases where the foreign retiree tends to marry a Thai spouse, they can face problems including inheritance issues when they divorce or if their spouse dies.

To deal with such matters, Charkrawan Saengkhae, executive director of the aforementioned office, said the OAG is now providing a free counselling service.

Apart from inheritance issues, they can consult about matters related to their children’s nationality, conscription for male offspring, and domestic violence.

As a basic rule, Mr Charkrawan said all healthy males with Thai citizenship who reside in Thailand are required to report to a conscription officer when they reach age 20.

“Most Thais don’t realise that our regulations prohibit children who are born in the kingdom from holding multiple citizenships. The Nationality Act states that when they turn 20, they must decide whether to keep their Thai citizenship or not,” Artra Khunthongjan of OAG said, adding foreign spouses are more likely to take their adopted children or stepchildren back to their home country before reaching this age.

“Many foreigners have asked the Consular Affairs Department for help in numerous cases. We have also provided assistance in the event of deaths or road accidents, and also transferred cases to their country of origin,” Mr Artra added.

Pol Capt Tippiroon Suwannakul of the OAG referred to a 2019 case when the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service asked the office to search for a tourist who had gone missing on Koh Samui, as his wife also had inheritance issues to deal with. The office asked a local court to grant her the rights she needed to resolve this, she said.

“We don’t provide help to Thais who live in other countries, but we do for foreigners in Thailand in accordance with international human rights laws and related human rights conventions,” Pol Capt Tippiroon said.