The Thai usufruct is one of the most common legal means to protect your property in Thailand. When you do a due diligence then you would check to see if the house or condominium has a usufruct registered over the property. The usufruct is there to allow occupation of a property as well as the fruits of the property. There are some examples below to understand why it is used in Thailand by expats as well as the use of superficies.
When you buy property in the name of your wife in Thailand you will need to protect yourself in the event of a divorce. Most would register a usufruct while others prefer superficies. The usufruct is registered against the title deed in Thailand. If would be very difficult to sell a property with a usufruct registered over the property. This Thai usufruct will allow you to live in the house which your Thai wife owns.
The Thai usufruct is limited to 30 years in Thailand. When you die the usufruct ends unless you had placed the usufruct in your name as well as that of your wife. If you are going to lease land this way, then you should take proper legal advice on the issues. If you die your wife who should also be registered on the usufruct will then still have a usufruct over the property. Having both people on the usufruct avoid the problem of the main party dying before the usufruct expires. Note that as the holder of the usufruct that you will need to maintain the property or you could very well be sued for damages or have an application brought to court to cancel the usufruct because of damage or lack of maintenance of the property.
Some expats do not wish to buy land in the name of their wife and opt for a usufruct over the land. Again speak to an attorney about your options in this regards. If you take a usufruct as an example over a small farm then you are allowed to the fruits of the farm, be this produce or income from the farm. An example is a small fruit farm which you took a usufruct over. You are allowed to make use of the fruits on the trees. Note that foreigners are not allowed to farm in Thailand as it is a prohibited occupation in Thailand.
There are other options you can look at such as lease agreements or superficies if you wish to own the property. With the superficies you own all the buildings but not the land. Lease agreements can also be done however there are limitations as well with regards to these. People who take out a usufruct normally would want to work the land so to speak and it is rare to find a usufruct over a property that is not owned by the husband of the owner, being the Thai wife normally.
Consider all your legal options in Thailand before you decide.