The usufruct is a right over a property to use and benefits from its ‘fruits’. Most foreigners in Thailand opt for a usufruct over a property as a safety net during a divorce. The usufruct can either be used to negotiate a better divorce settlement or provide you with a roof over your head until you die. Usufructs are usually registered for a period of 30 years or for the lifetime of the usufruct holder.
If you die that is the end of the usufruct even if it was registered for a period of 30 years. The usufruct can also be given to more than one person. When expats are married to a Thai they would normally register the usufruct in the names of both people. In the event that one dies the other can still live out the usufruct.
Outside of divorce in Thailand the usufruct also offers protection in the event of death of your Thai wife. Since foreigners cannot own land you can have the usufruct for your lifetime. If you have Thai children then when your wife dies the children or child will hold onto the property. The usufruct will still be valid and allow you to stay on in the property until you die. It is one of the most common rights used by expats when they buy property in Thailand in the name of their Thai wife and offers better protection than a prenuptial when it does not involve divorce.
Under Thai law the usufruct holder has to maintain the property in good order. This is no different to a servitude where the right when exercised has to be maintained to good order. The owner of the property can have the usufruct cancelled on the bases that the property is being neglected and that it is losing money because of this. This is not very common in Thailand unless you have an angry ex-wife who wants you out of the house on this bases.
Speak to a property lawyer in Thailand and consider all your options after you have married. There is also the superficies which many foreigners prefer as much as the usufruct and these are all issues to consider. View all your options in Thailand with a clear mind and proper legal advice.