The last will and testament is a document that is legislated here in Mexico, meaning that strict protocols exist that must be followed in its construction including, but not limited to, its format, notarial seals, and registration in order for it to have legal effect.

An Office Depot prefabricated generic will, even when signed, will not suffice for the proper transmittal of real property and/or liquid assets or possessions.

Some common misnomers are:

1) “I don’t need a will as I am covered with the clause in my deed that the home will go to my wife when I pass.”

While this clause is helpful in terms of only one of the co-proprietors passing in drawing a line to the spouse for probate, it is not sufficient to avoid a potentially contested probate case if and when both parties pass away.

2) “I had my will done in September (or I am waiting till September to have my will done) to receive the ‘will discount.’”

While it is true that wills are discounted every September, this is a government subsidy that is given to notarios for Mexican nationals. The idea is that with an overwhelming amount of probate cases seen annually by the court system, and in most cases presented by large families, a will can and does give guidance to what should be done with assets and property, speeding the process, and unclogging the court system.

I would like to add that the “discounted wills” are generally the most generic and least specific document, just barely fulfilling the minimum criteria to remain legal.

These are a few items that you should make sure are listed in your last will and testament:

Executor: Choose who you want to be responsible for the proper execution and following of your wishes.

Supplemental executor: List a second executor in case your first choice becomes unavailable or passes.

Heirs: Be specific about who gets what and list supplemental heirs in case your first choices become unavailable or pass.

Bank accounts: Always list your Mexican accounts and investments even if you have listed beneficiaries on the actual accounts.

Lastly, be sure to ask that your will is registered locally (municipal level), as well as on a state level and federally so as to be included in the national database in case of an incident while in another area of Mexico.

Before you set out to put your wishes to paper, always make sure your legal representation is completely familiar with your needs.

For all your estate planning, legacy bequeathments, notarial services, or more specific questions and information, contact the author, Angel Marin Díaz, at, 415 121 9005.

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