Monkhood and Inheritance in Thailand
Rationales of Section 1622 of the Thai Civil and Commercial Code (TCCC)
A Buddhist monk is prohibited to claim inheritance as an heir by this provision, but he can be a legatee. Once he leaves monkhood, he has the right to claim for inheritance.
There are several justifications on this provision:
- A person who enters monkhood, is deemed to renounce his passion, lust, and greed in life. Inheritance is a source of wealth in providing prosperity for the person, in which it creates unrelenting greed to gain riches excessively. Thus, this goes against Buddhist tenets on renouncing and forgoing worldly desires, if the monk would have the right to claim for inheritance.
- Prior to entering monkhood, the person must clear out all of his businesses in order to pursue Buddhism in his best capacity. Otherwise, he will not be able to reach enlightenment, according to Buddhist teachings.
Loopholes in Section 1622 of the TCCC
Section 1622 has multiple interpretations that could be misconstrued per the following:
- It allows a Buddhist monk to be a legatee, in which he can inherit legacy by the testator’s designation.
- Once a Buddhist monk becomes a legatee and is entitled to a legacy under a will of the testator, he has the right to file a complaint with the court without leaving monkhood within 1 year, or 10 years after the death of the testator, as stipulated by Section 1754. With such, he can manage the legacy.
- The intention of distributing the legacy to the monk is subjected to personal, not public interests.
- This provision subjects only a Buddhist monk, not a Buddhist nun or any monk from other religions. Thus, anyone not subjected to this provision can claim for inheritance and legacy during ordination/priesthood.
Acquisition of Property Prior to Monkhood
Properties owned by a particular person before entering monkhood belong to that person who can dispose of them through a will or during his life in any means, as stipulated by Section 1624, which contradicts Section 1623 of the TCCC.
Acquisition of Property During Monkhood
Section 1623 of the TCCC determines the consequence for a Buddhist monk acquiring properties during monkhood. Once he dies, all of the acquired properties will belong to the monastery where it is located at his domicile. However, if he disposes of all of his properties by will or prior to his death, they will be owned by the designated owners by will or his decision before death.
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