Estate Planning in Mexico ( Part 1 of 5)

Recently I have been asked with great frequency “what happens when, and if I die in Mexico”, this may be due to the influx nationally of “newbies”, new residents that are growing our “guest community” through either spending more time in Mexico, expatriation due to the political landscape in their country of origin or just the celebration of a new home purchase in Mexico. This will be the first article in this five-part “mini-series” spanning the next five weeks to help acquaint our guest community family members with the terminology, the process, and the benefits of having the appropriate planning for things such as medical advocacy, living inheritances, legacy bequeathments, estate planning, and the *AfterLife™ program now available nationally in Mexico. 

In between the weekly articles I will answer all questions in the biweekly “Q&A with Angel” about estate planning, legacy bequeathments, and how to create a peaceful, legal transition of assets, and explain the differences between estate planning in Mexico and the country where one holds citizenship.

Let us begin with some of the terminologies:

The Living Will is a legal document used to state certain future health care decisions only when a person becomes unable to make the decisions and choices on their own. Durable Power of Attorney for healthcare, also known as medical power of attorney, is a legal document in which you name a person to be a proxy or agent to make all your healthcare decisions if you become unable to do so.

Do not resuscitate (DNR) orders mean that if you stop breathing or your heart stops, nothing will be done to try to keep you alive. If you are in the hospital, you can ask your doctor to add a DNR order to your medical record.

Advance Directives give specific directions on what types of treatments and medications you refuse to accept. There are many advance directive formats. Some follow forms outlined in state laws, others are created by lawyers or even the patients themselves.

Last Directive (Advance Directive) and Will are a direct line of guidance and executions the patient, once deceased, wishes to be carried out by specified executors, administrators, and inheritors. 

These are the terms and definitions as we are aware of them in the USA and Canada.

Some items to note about the differences between these documents and how they are interpreted in the USA and Canada versus the Mexican counterparts are mainly, but not limited to the fact that we do not recognize in Mexico the DNR. The Mexican constitution takes a strongly Catholic purview on this document and states that (in essence) life is to be preserved by the medical field at all costs. 

However, while Mexican constitutional law will not allow one to be “unplugged” we are able to build into the Advanced Medical Directive specific guidelines where one may decline to be “plugged in” to artificial life support, refusal of feeding machines or respirators, thus creatively and with great specificity support legally one’s end of life wishes.

Another substantial difference is the Mexican version of the Durable Power of Attorney, in the USA and Canada this document as mentioned above relates to medical advocacy (proxies and such). In Mexico, this document under Article 2600 of the CDMX code leaves a time frame- sensitive POA for posthumous decisions that are needed to be made by the empowered party. Some of the powers that can be bestowed are the power to sign medical releases, (very handy when there is a hospital stay before death), administration (bill paying), powers of dominion (the ability to sell the deceased assets) as well as the power to represent the deceased wishes in the probate process.

It is extremely important to take note that all directives and wills prepared in another country will not be recognized in Mexico.

To be effective in Mexico, all documents must follow specific protocols which include, but are not limited to, being legally drafted under the legislated guidelines of each state, notarized, and translated by a certified translator as well as be registered in the various municipal, state and national registries to be valid throughout the entire Mexican Federation. Before you set out to put your wishes to paper always make sure your legal representation is completely familiar with your wishes and needs, is able to communicate with you clearly in your native language, and most important of all…has experience in these very specific and ultra- sensitive areas of the law. 

**AfterLife™ is a national program available exclusively through Inmtec™ that see´s to the professional production of all the documents needed to oversee issues such as Medical Advocacy, pre and post-death planning, the care of physical remains and transport, as well as all issues regarding probate and emergency contact communicatio

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