Family Money: Trusts are for ordinary folk too! - Part 1
Managing director of Westminster Portfolio Services (Thailand) Ltd.
Mention the word ‘trusts’ and people think of large
trust funds created by the very wealthy to protect their wealth from their
spendthrift children. In fact trusts are now widely used for a variety of
purposes. They are so common that people encounter them on a daily basis
although they may not realise it.
Trusts originated in English law at the time of the
crusades: wealthy landowners leaving for the crusades left their assets to
trusted individuals to safeguard them while they were away on the crusade.
To protect the assets from “trusted” individuals who unscrupulously
galloped off with the assets, rules of equity were developed. Over
hundreds of years the rules of equity have developed a complex trust law
incorporated into Anglo-Saxon legal systems and, through the Hague Trusts
Convention, into some civil law jurisdictions.
The trust has been a very successful and enduring legal
concept because of its ability to adapt to accommodate new functions.
While it is still used in the family succession context to hold assets for
future generations, it has successfully been adapted to become an
indispensable tool in the armoury of the tax adviser.
What Is A Trust?
A trust is a legal relationship between a settlor and
one or more trustees. The settlor transfers assets to the trustees. The
trustees hold those assets for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries or
for a charitable purpose. The trust is created by the settlor either
during his/her lifetime (an inter vivos trust) or by their will on death
(a will trust).
This is a very general definition which understates the
variety of different types of trust that can be established. Further, it
does not refer to implied trusts (constructive and resulting trusts) which
can be imposed or implied on a relationship in circumstances where some
inequity may arise. Implied trusts are frequently invoked in litigation.
In order for a trust to be valid somebody must be in a
position to enforce its terms. Generally this means that a trust must have
beneficiaries. The principal exception to this rule is charitable trusts
which need not have any beneficiaries; however, the terms of the trust are
enforced by the Attorney General. Under English law non-charitable purpose
trusts (assets held by trustees for a purpose rather than for
beneficiaries) may be void.
Trusts other than charitable trusts cannot last
indefinitely. Different jurisdictions have different rules as to the
duration of a trust. Under English law a trust can last for either 80
years or a life or lives in being plus 21 years; that is, for the duration
of a lifetime of an identifiable person alive at the date the trust is
created plus 21 years (the life in being which is usually used is the last
survivor of the descendents of George VI living at the date the trust is
The Different Types Of Trust
Let us look at the differing types of trusts most
commonly used in the family succession and tax planning context.
The ‘Interest In Possession Trust’ (Aka ‘Fixed
Interest Trust’ or ‘Life Interest Trust’). The beneficiary (known as
the life tenant) has a right to the income from the trust fund (the
beneficiary’s interest is referred to as an “interest in
For instance, Major Watkins leaves his assets to his
wife for life and the remainder to his children. His wife has a right to
the income of the trust fund (and to live in any properties owned by the
trust); on her death the capital passes to the children. It is possible to
have successive life interests. So if Major Watkins does not want his
children to receive the capital of the trust fund they could have life
interests after their mother.
As Mrs Watkins is entitled to the income, the trust
capital will be subject to an inheritance tax charge on her death (as if
she were the owner of the asset). The life interest trust in this context
provides no immediate tax benefit; Major Watkins used a trust to ensure
that his children received the assets on his wife’s death; as Mrs
Watkins is only entitled to the income she cannot give the capital away
and so the capital will be preserved for the Major’s children.
Some trusts fall outside the UK inheritance tax net -
for example if the settlor is not domiciled or deemed domiciled in the UK
and the trust assets are not located in the UK.
These trusts are referred to as “Excluded Property
Settlements”. There will be no tax charged on the death of a life tenant
if the trust is an excluded property settlement “ even if the life
tenant is domiciled in the UK. Excluded property settlements provide
considerable tax planning opportunities but have limited application given
that the settlor must be non-UK domiciled or deemed domiciled.
(To be concluded next week)
Personal Directions: Get smart and set SMART goals
By Christina Dodd,
founder and managing director of Asia Training Associates
Last week we talked about goals and I shared some insights
of well-known author and much sought-after speaker, Shiv Khera on this topic.
To go further into the chapter on goal-setting in his book, “You Can Win”,
I would like to continue with his thoughts this week as he offers such a
no-nonsense and very simplistic approach to this task, which is seriously
lacking in the lives of most people.
“Goal setting is a series of steps. When you buy a plane
ticket, what does it say?
*Starting point *Destination *Class of travel *Price
*Starting date *Expiry date
If you ask most people what is their one major objective in
life, they would probably give you a vague answer, such as, “I want to be
successful, be happy, make a good living,” and that is that.
They are all wishes, and none of them are clear goals. Goals
must be SMART:
S - specific. For example, “I want to lose weight.”
This is wishful thinking. It becomes a goal when I pin myself down to “I
will lose 10 pounds in 90 days.”
M - must be measurable. If we cannot measure it we
cannot accomplish it. Measurement is a way of monitoring our progress.
A - must be achievable. Achievable means that it should
be out of reach enough to be challenging but it should not be out of sight,
otherwise it becomes disheartening.
R - realistic. A person who wants to lose 50 pounds in
30 days is being unrealistic.
T - time-bound. There should be a starting date and a
Goals must be balanced
Our life is like a wheel with six spokes.
1. Family. Our loved ones are the reason to live and make a
2. Financial. Represents our career and the things that
money can buy.
3. Physical. Our health without which nothing makes sense.
4. Mental. Represents knowledge and wisdom.
5. Social. Every individual and organization has social
responsibility without which society starts dying.
6. Spiritual. Our value system represents ethics and
If any of these spokes is out of line, our life goes out of
balance. Take a few minutes and just think. If you had any one of the six
missing, what would life be like?
More about balance
In 1923, eight of the wealthiest people in the world met.
Their combined wealth, it is estimated, exceeded the wealth of the government
of the United States at that time. These men certainly knew how to make a
living and accumulate wealth. But let’s examine what happened to them 25
1. President of the largest steel company, Charles Schwab,
lived on borrowed capital for five years before he died bankrupt.
2. President of the largest gas company, Howard Hubson,
3. One of the greatest commodity traders, Arthur Cutton,
4. President of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard
Whitney, was sent to jail.
5. A member of the President’s Cabinet, Albert Fall, was
pardoned from jail to go home and die in peace.
6. The greatest “bear” on Wall Street, Jessie
Livermore, committed suicide.
7. President of the world’s greatest monopoly, Ivar
Krueger, committed suicide.
8. President of the Bank of International Settlement, Leon
Fraser, committed suicide.
What they forgot was how to make a life! It is stories like
this that give the readers a false impression that money is the root of all
evil. That is not true. Money provides food for the hungry, medicine for the
sick, clothes for the needy. Money is only a medium of exchange.
We need two kinds of education. One that teaches us how to
make a living and one that teaches us how to live.
There are people who are so engrossed in their professional
life that they neglect their family, their health, and social
responsibilities. If asked why they do this they would reply that they were
doing it for their family.
Our kids are sleeping when we leave home. They are sleeping
when we come home. Twenty years later, we turn back, and they are all gone. We
have no family left. That is sad.
Quality not quantity
It is not uncommon to hear that it is not the quantity of
time that we spend with our families but the quality that matters. Just think
about it, is it really true?
Supposing you went to the best restaurant in town where
they gave you white-glove service with cutlery from England, crockery from
France, chocolates from Switzerland, and on and on. You picked up the gold
plated menu and ordered a dish of barbecued chicken. The waiter within minutes
brought back a small cube of the most deliciously prepared chicken. You ate it
and asked, “Is that all I am going to get?” The waiter replied, “It is
not the quantity but the quality that matters.” You said that you are still
hungry and he gave you the same reply.
I hope the message is clear. Our families need both,
quality and quantity.
Scrutinize your goals
A person who aims at nothing never misses. Aiming low is
the biggest mistake. Winners see objectives, losers see obstacles. As Henry
Ford once said, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take
your eyes off your goal.” Our goals should be high enough to motivate yet
realistic enough to avoid discouragement. Anything we do, either takes us
closer to our goal or further away.
Goals without action are empty dreams. Actions turn dreams
into goals. Even if we miss our goals it does not make us a failure. Delay
does not mean defeat. It only means that one has to replan to accomplish
Just like a camera needs focus to take a good picture, we
need goals to make a productive life.”
I hope you have enjoyed these writings and that they will
bring some benefit to you. Until next time, stay focused! For further details
on our Personal Development and Professional Skills Programs contact me at
The Doctor's Consultation by Dr. Iain
Corness: Breast Cancer, Chemotherapy and the Quality of Life?
by Dr. Iain Corness
Cancer treatments do differ all over the world. Some of
these differences may be due to non-medical factors such as cost of treatment,
while others may be due to differing medical points of view.
However, when looking at treatment options there are two
sides to look at. Firstly, the treatment regime should be based upon EBM -
Evidence Based Medicine - and secondly should take into consideration the
Quality of Life of the patient. I have deliberately put Quality of Life in
capitals. It must never be forgotten by the patient, or the patient’s
doctor, but unfortunately is often ignored by medical “science”.
Breast cancer in women is an emotive issue at the best of
times, and treatments have swung from radical, remove everything surgical
treatments to remove only the lump (lumpectomies) plus or minus radiotherapy
With ‘Chemo’ there are also wide ranges of opinion.
Some researchers have come up with the concept of using doses of chemotherapy
so high in an attempt to stop the cancer or its recurrence that it destroys
the patient’s bone marrow, so the patient ends up needing a transplant of
blood-forming stem cells.
One reason that this was undertaken was that it had been
seen that the cancer cells had escaped from the breast tissue and had gone
into the lymph glands in the armpit. The rationale was that if it had got this
far, you would have to really hit it hard. Well, that was the theory at least.
Fortunately, we are in this era of EBM, and some
researchers have been keeping the scores. Normal chemo or high dose chemo?
Studies have found that the intensive treatment did not improve the outcome
for women whose cancer had spread to other parts of the body. In fact, there
was little difference between the two approaches in survival after five or six
years or in the rate of cancer recurrence.
Dr. Harmon Eyre, chief medical officer of the American
Cancer Society has now said, “I think the evidence of benefit is so minimal
and the toxicity is so substantial and the cost so high that by and large
people are going to say this approach is now no longer worthy of pursuing in
any major way.”
Dr. Martin S. Tallman of Northwestern University Feinberg
School of Medicine, who led one of the studies into the high dose treatment,
said the results could make it difficult to pursue the high dose technique.
“It will be hard to generate enthusiasm and resources when, in general, the
results have been disappointing - and there are other alternatives,” he
said. It was also noted that five deaths in a Dutch study were caused by the
high dose treatment and nine in the U.S. study were related to the bone marrow
transplants. Side effects included nausea, vomiting, mouth sores and
Dr. Tallman said initially the belief was that high dose
chemo worked better, but the latest findings illustrate how important it is to
do controlled studies to prove whether promising looking approaches really do
work. In other words - EBM!
What also must be taken into account is the “Quality of
Life”. I used to have a sign on the wall of my consulting room which simply
said, “An increase in the length of life may not equal an increase in the
Quality of Life.” Doctors and patients should not forget this.
Perhaps Noi is a girl I sent $ to for several years.
She taught me a lot such as never to sell my body to someone who doesn’t
love me, especially if there is someone else who does love me who gives me
enough $ to live on. She taught me never to think I am smart enough to
fool someone who loves me just because that person accepts me as I am. She
taught me that people find it impossible to see outside their own country
and culture and that I’m in that boat too.
If this is the Noi I knew she was kicked in her back
when she was two by her father who soon after disappeared never to be seen
again. She quit school at grade two and went to work building houses at 12
or 13. At 18 or 19 she went to Malibu to earn her living. Her culture
impairs the development of individuality though the people are friendly
and likable. She had a lovable child, a boy, who she disciplined too
harshly because her own harsh past drove her to it. When she was 12 or 13
she was thought to have killed a boy of 14 or 15 who bullied her with a
karoti (sic) kick to the central nervous system.
She had dark hair with streaks of orange she put in it
and often tied it in a ponytail with a chartreuse band. With all the gold
hanging on her that she loved to wear I couldn’t wait to take her home
to meet my mother who would be extremely excited to meet her. She stayed
in a house with a man she said was her brother and they had regular
arguments and he seemed never to be able to find steady work and I think
she took care of him and her other brother who stopped by from time to
time with the $ I gave her. The father of her son of about 6 had
disappeared when the boy was about 2, the same as the mother’s father
before him had. The boy was a lovable child.
But alas, love is not slavery and neither is slavery
love. Perhaps one day our spirits will grow large enough to bridge the
differences between us so the love between us is constructive.
I’m sorry, my Petal, but Noi, your karate kicking
killer complete with chartreuse banded pony tail sounds just like someone
I don’t want to know. Nor should you. Bury your grief and stop sending
money. The situation isn’t worth it, believe me!
I am from the UK. I have settled down in Thailand with
a young Thai lady many years younger than me. My friends ‘back home’
do not understand this association and I’m afraid have branded me as a
cradle-snatcher, but that is their problem. As well as the loving side of
things, (which I had thought were over) being together has been very good
for both of us. I have a companion that I still don’t believe I have,
while she and her family has someone that they can turn to for help when
needed. Unfortunately this is the reason why I am writing you this letter.
The need for financial help seems to increase every week. I don’t mind
helping out with the expenses for her three children from a previous
marriage to a Thai bloke (he got killed in a motorcycle accident, not
running away) but the family seems to get larger all the time. There are
more brothers and sisters that need this and that, and while I didn’t
mind to start with, I am on a pension too and have to watch what I spend.
I don’t want to see my nest egg that I saved for disappearing too
quickly. I have asked my young lady to tell her family they are killing
the goose that laid the golden egg. What should I do about all the
I also would like to take my Thai girlfriend to England
for a holiday, is this very difficult? Some people have told me that Thai
women can’t get a visa.
First, the visa. All visa applications are dealt with
on their own merits. The British Embassy deals with the applications to
the UK and it seems that provided the application is genuine and the
relationship is stable, there would be very few problems.
Now about her family, which no doubt by now includes
the local buffalo herd. You have to deal with this yourself, your Thai
girlfriend cannot. It is part of her culture, that the more well-off look
after the needy. You are more well-off (at this stage) so the begging hand
goes out to you. You will have to decide which family members and which
needy causes you are going to support. You will probably then be thought
of as ‘keeneow’ (stingy) by the family, but you can add that to
‘cradle-snatcher’ in your resume! You will never be able to please
everyone on both sides of the globe. Live your own life as you see it,
Spencer, I think you’ve still got your head screwed on.
Camera Class: Soft Focus Filter for sale. 1 baht!
by Harry Flashman
I am a great believer in DIY. Not only can it be fun, but I
enjoy the thoughts about all the money I save. Photography is no different. You
can spend oodles of money on filters, especially when in actual fact you can
easily and inexpensively make your own. Remember that the first rule of DIY
living is NEVER BUY ANYTHING, IF YOU CAN MAKE IT YOURSELF!
This week is a small project that can give you some very good
photographic results, and costs one baht. Yes, one baht! On top of the
sacrificial one baht coin there is a mild misappropriation of somebody’s hair
spray. Do not buy a can!
While the use of filters can be overdone by anyone, there are
times when filters do help, and the center-spot soft focus filter is a great one
to have in the bag. It will enhance portraits, particularly of women, giving a
soft dreamy look to the photo. Using this filter this just means the centre is
in focus and the edges are nicely soft and blurred. This effect is used by
portrait and wedding photographers all over the world to produce that wonderful
The good thing is that to produce this type of picture is
exceptionally simple and you can do it, no matter what kind of camera you use! I
don’t care if it’s a Nikon state-of-the-art F whatever or the cheapest and
nastiest pocket point and shooter. The romantic portraits are yours for the
The secret is in the filter used. It is literally a clear
piece of glass or plastic over the lens that is clear in the middle and opaque
(but translucent) around the outside. This week’s project (great for school
kids too) is to make one.
You will need one can of hairspray, a one baht coin and a
clear piece of glass or plastic (perspex) around 7.5 cm square. This piece of
perspex needs to be as thin as possible to keep it optically correct. One supply
source can be hardware shops, glaziers and even picture framers.
Having cut out your square, put the coin in the centre of the
perspex and then gently wave the hairspray over the lot. Let it dry and gently
flick the coin off and you have your first special effects filter - the centre
spot soft focus.
If you have an SLR (single lens reflex) camera you actually
look through the lens when you are focussing and what you see is what you get
(the WYSIWYG principle). For the compact camera users it needs a little more
imagination, but do not worry (worry is bad for the soul and produces camera
SLR people first - set your lens on the largest aperture you
can (around f5.6 or f4 is fine). Focus on your subject, keeping the face in the
centre of the screen. Now bring up your magic FX filter and place it over the
lens and what do you see? The face is in focus and the edges are all blurred!
You’ve got it. Shoot! Take a few shots, especially ones with the light behind
your subject. Try altering the f stop as well, as this changes the apparent size
of the clear spot in the middle. Remember that film is the cheapest part of
photography (other than making one baht filters) so use plenty and experiment.
Now for those with the compact point and shooters, what you see is not what
you get, as you are not looking through the lens. What you have to do is
position the centre of the filter over the lens and, while keeping it there,
bring the camera up to your eye, compose the shot and then shoot. Takes some
fiddling and manual dexterity, but all those with at least two hands should be
able to master it. Just make sure you are not blocking the light sensors on the
camera. Backlighting the subject helps here too. Try it this weekend.
Recipes from Rattana: Oysters Kilpatrick
Oysters are plentiful and cheap, provided you buy the local ones! These
generally come without shells, but to serve Oysters Kilpatrick, you will need
some shells. Buy some unshelled as well (or beg for the shells from your local
restaurant). There are many variations of this item, but this is a very popular
one. To make this successfully, you do need a griller.
Oysters on the shell 24
Worcestershire sauce 1 tspn
Cream 1 cup
Salt and pepper to taste
Bacon, chopped finely 250 gm
Remove oysters from shells and put aside. Put shells on a
baking sheet and heat in a moderate oven. Mix Worcestershire sauce and cream.
When shells are hot, return oysters to shells. Use tongs to handle the shells,
as they get very hot. Add a little of the cream mixture to each shell; sprinkle
with salt and pepper. Note that if the oysters are small, you can put more than
one in the shell, using some of the cheaper local market oysters.
Top each oyster shell with chopped bacon and fine
breadcrumbs. Place baking sheet under a hot griller and grill until bacon is
crisp but not burnt and oysters are warmed through. You can also give them
another splash of Worcestershire sauce just before serving. For a final touch
place the hot shells on a bed of rack (sea) salt.
Dr Byte's Computer Conundrums
In this issue I am going look at SMS (pronounced Ess Emm
Ess or Short Message Service to give it its proper name). So just what is
SMS and what has it got to do with my computer I hear you ask? Well, some of
you have written to me about SMS’ing and I know for many, it’s a useful
little tool which has been around for some time, but usually associated with
our Mobile Phone. Bear with me and you will read why I also associate SMS
with a computer.
Q. Dear Dr Byte,
I keep hearing about SMS. When I was with family in
Manila a couple of months ago, everyone (from Nona down to my 8 year old
niece) seemed to be playing SMS. “Meet me in 10mns at the Lobby
entrance” ... “I’ll be late, meet me at the hair dressers at
10.30...” “Jamie says he has tickets for the concert ...” “The boss
is upset because the delivery is late ...” and so on and so on.
What is SMS and can I use it here in Thailand? I can see
T. Chompoo, Sarapee
A. SMS has been around for many years now. Essentially an
SMS is a small text message of usually up to 130 characters in length sent
to someone else who has a mobile phone. Instant messaging is another way of
thinking of SMS. Nokia, Samsung and Motorola screens are large enough to
receive up to 5 lines of text. Erikson usually 3 lines. It’s an ideal way
to keep in touch without the expense of making a real call.
Australians for example discovered SMS in the mid
1990’s. Young and not so young people discovered that this was a great way
to message friends, family and so on. Schools now have to ask students to
turn off all mobiles in class ... or even worse, hand them in before exams.
One can only wonder why?
Apart from Australia, SMS messaging took off in a big way
in many parts of Europe as well as here in Thailand, the Philippines,
Singapore and Hong Kong. I use it for messaging our technician when he is
out on site here in Chiang Mai. It’s an easy way to tell him where to go
An interesting bit of trivia is the Australians have been
holding the only World Championship since 1996 or 1997. Just how fast can
someone send an SMS message? Well, recent winners achieved speeds of 170
characters or so a minute. Now that’s faster than my addled brain can
think, I think. It’s surprising to find out that they have yet to really
discover SMS in the USA.
Here in Thailand, you can SMS through your mobile phone.
AIS, DTAC, 1800 and Orange all offer this facility with their plans. Its not
always free, so check first. Also, some providers don’t like you sending
an SMS to someone on another service. So also check if you can send an SMS
to someone on any of the other service plans.
Now here is the fun bit, considering my right thumb does
most of the tapping, I am pretty slow. But many years ago I discovered a
South African Web Site that allowed you to send a free SMS message to almost
any mobile telephone user any where in the world. Personally I like to use
websites to send SMS messages rather than my mobile. It’s so much easier
on a keyboard and faster than I can type with one thumb.
It’s sad but true, Money No 1 Syndrome has set in and
now this South African service has decided to change to user pays. Also,
many mobile telephone providers seeing the potential revenue in SMS services
locked out the ability to receive an SMS from any but their own service.
However, it’s not all bad news for newbies.
SiamZone.com offers free SMS sending service in both Thai
and English language at www.siamzone.com/mobile/sms.php. It provides up to
135 characters, but one Thai character is counted as three characters,
therefore SiamZone advises users to consider using the English alphabet. The
service guarantees only 70% success for those who send message to post-paid
services of AIS and Dtac. This service does not support Orange users.
KunPhone (www.kunphone. com) provides various SMS
services, including sending free SMS messages to any mobile phone user for
which it has a service option for you to select from. If you don’t know,
you can make it “not-sure’’. KunPhone offers up to 50 Thai characters
a message and 140 English characters. However, sometimes messages cannot be
eSMSZone (www.esms zone.com) offers SMS service to only
AIS and Dtac users whose number begins with 01 and 09. You can send messages
of up to 149 characters and add your name in another sender’s box. It also
offers links to World SMS services where you can select the country and area
code of the recipient. Another service is QuickSMS, with options of numbers
beginning with 01, 06 and 09.
You can also use ICQ to send SMS messages to your target
phone numbers anywhere in the world. ICQ is now owned by the same company
that provides most of our computer operating systems. Yes, Microsoft.
You can also send a message to AIS customers from
www.ais900.com/t/cms/home.htm while for DTac users, visit their web site at
www.dtac.or.th and for Orange users, you can access its SMS service at
That’s it for this week. If you have any tips or tricks
that you’d like to share, or any questions about your internet or pc
experience, contact me: Dr Byte, Chiangmai Mail.
Ask your local US Consul
I used to satisfy the requirements for the Thai visa
extension by supplying my local bank statements, along with a letter from
the institution, which I had translated into Thai. In the past, there has
never been a problem, but this time an officer had questions. She said that
she would recommend that the extension be granted (implying that her
recommendation guaranteed it being granted!), but strongly suggested that
next year I obtain a letter from the Consulate giving the source and amount
of my income. She also said that with said letter, I would receive the
extension in one day from the Chiang Mai office instead of the normal two
months required to send it to Bangkok. The fee she quoted was 3,500 baht
instead of the normal 500 baht. I highly suspect that a receipt for 500 baht
will be received.
Provided that the officer was correct and that the
Consulate will issue some sort of letter, what is it? What do I have to
bring to show you that I am really being paid the amounts I say I am? (By
the way, are the letters you print really received by you or are they made
up to introduce a topic you wish to discuss?)
- Please change my name if you mention the thing about
Dear Mr. PCMNIYMTTATR,
Been in Thailand a while, eh?
First things first. The letter to which you refer is, in
fact, a notarized statement. You think I WANT to discuss notarizations,
certifications, and authentications? I get much more of a kick, believe me,
out of the fascinating and never-ending parade of what is technically known,
in the lingo, as “Americans Behaving Badly.” But are you asking, if I
did want to discuss notarizations, certifications, etc., would I stoop so
low as to actually make up questions? Well ... yeah, probably. (Would I make
up a question asking if questions are made up? Hmmm. We may make this
Let’s start with the dull stuff. The Consulate does
notarizations and certifications during American Citizen Service hours, on
Monday and Wednesday afternoons. Authentications, for all practical
purposes, we don’t do. A certification is simply a statement that an
officer has witnessed an original document and its copy, and that the copy
appears to be genuine. These are useful if, for instance, you need to send
your passport to Social Security, and don’t want to send the original (a
A notarization is a legally recognized record that an
officer has checked your identity, you appear to be who you say you are, and
you affirm that something is true. You affirm it, we don’t. So how do we
know whether what you affirm is true? We don’t. (This is also why we
don’t generally perform authentications.) Why would someone require such
an act of apparently marginal value? Because, crucially, your signature
before us indicates that you affirm your statement under U.S. penalty of
perjury - meaning that if it later turns out there was some
misrepresentation involved (not in YOUR case, of course, but, speaking
generally) then there is a prosecutable offense (what is the penalty for
perjury? That depends on what “is” is, I guess).
So ... long story short, Mr. PCMNIYMTTATR: bring your
passport. Your statement covers the rest. We won’t ask to see your
financial records, because we aren’t the ones affirming the substance of
what you’re saying.
And, as to the rest ... I was about to remind you that
Thai Immigration sets rules as it deems proper, and that you may have just
been riding the crest of a rule change. Then I got curious, and called to
make some inquiries. Here are the answers: you can match them to the
questions as you see fit: (a) can be done in Chiang Mai, (b) 30 minutes for
a short-stay visa, up to four months for a one-year extension, and (c) 500
baht per case, regardless of length of extension.
I would love to say that there was a miscommunication or
misunderstanding here; one of many that every farang encounters on a daily
basis (and I’ve committed doozies - another time, another column). And
perhaps there was. Perhaps you got a bad apple, or any one of a dozen other
possibilities. In any event, as in so many other circumstances in which
language and culture may muddy perception: if an answer seems “off,”
thank the person and inquire again with someone else the next day.
And watch for semi-annual sales,
Have a question about visas, passports, travel to the United States,
services for American citizens, or related issues? Ask the Consul. Send your
e-mail to acschn @state.gov with “ask the consul” in the subject line.
If your question isn’t selected, you can get an answer by calling the
Consulate at 053-252-629, from 8 am. - 4 pm.