Larry Amsden, 76, is a charter member of the Rotary Club of Patong Beach, which was started in 2000 and chartered in 2001. He has been a witness to the tragedies and joys that have developed on the island over the past 19 years.
Here, he talks about the importance of a last will and testament for all adult expats – even those who have yet to come to terms with the inevitability of death.
PHUKET: One of the items auctioned off at the Rotary Club of Patong Beach fundraiser earlier this month was a last will and testament. It is such an important document for island expats to have. If you don’t have some instructions for after your demise, a last will and testament being the most common, then it’s very possible that your estate will be tied up after your death, leaving your wife and children in limbo. It can also make it hard for those left behind to decide what is to happen with your body.
A lot of people in Phuket are young – not myself – and they say, “Ah, that’s something I’ll worry about later in life.” But at the same time, people drown, fall off motorbikes and kill themselves – it’s not wise to say, “I’ll put that off until I reach Larry’s age.”
If I was here at the age of 20 or 25 years old, I would address the possibility that something might happen to me. The more you can prepare for it, the easier it’s going to be for your family and children.
I was one of those that put it off. I think I drew up my Thai will [Larry has both a Thai will and a United States of America will to handle separate assets] maybe five years ago or less – even then I wasn’t exactly young. I finally decided that it was time to address the possibility. If you are in a situation like myself, married to a Thai, it’s important to draw up your wills together so they are compatible.
It took me maybe a few hours over two or three days, but it will be invaluable if I pass on. There are many kits and programs online that can walk you through all the steps, passwords for computers and bank information – these can be nightmares for someone trying to manage your estate.
People do put it off, because there is a state of denial. If I don’t do anything, then I’ve denied the possibility of my death. However, last I heard, we all face it at some point in time. No matter what, you’ll want an attorney to draw up the last will and testimony to ensure it is legal.
If you have wishes as to how your body should be disposed of, they should be spelled out.
As is pretty well-known here, the Thai court system isn’t the fastest in the world. So things can sit in limbo for a long period of time. Last will and testimony will expedite that process.
Another issue is what happens if you become incapacitated, mentally unable to make decisions. What do you want to happen? Is there someone you trust to step in and make that decision?
For example, there was a man here from Singapore who wasn’t wearing a helmet when he crashed his motorcycle and bashed his head. He was in a coma, and the prognosis was uncertain. Meanwhile, medical expenses piled up, which had to become somebody’s responsibility eventually. You need someone in a situation like that to step in and say, “His desires were that he not be held on a life-support system for an indefinite period of time.” Or whatever your choice may be.
If you don’t have these things legally written out, then someone could step up and make a decision you wouldn’t have made yourself.
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