Estate Planning in Mexico: Part 2 of 5. You can read part 1 Here.
By Angel Marin Diaz
Thank you for all your questions last week; this week, we are looking at the delicacies of preparing properly for the eventuality of death in a foreign country. This is an acute situation we speak of as we consider it to be not described as an “if” but a “when” issue.
The last will and testament is a document 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 for it to have legal effect.
As a will is a legal document granting rights of ownership over liquid assets and real property, it is considered one of the most delicate and personalized documents in the legal system and, as such, is treated with extreme care.
When we have planned properly and responsibly, our wishes will be followed judiciously and expeditiously, decreasing the time and cost spent in probate as ALL wills and testaments are sent to probate court. A properly written will also protects us from complications that can arise from a will that is often contested by a gardener or domestic help.
Often we are not fully aware of the importance of a will that expresses with specificity all the qualities of the rights and responsibilities that are conveyed to our loved ones and, as such, with uncanny flippancy, are willing to have the most simplistic version of one of the most important documents that we will sign in our lifetime, which will ensure the longevity of our legacy of protection and abundance for the people we love and care for most—our family.
Having said this, some of the risks we enter with nonspecific, universal, or generic wills are time frames from 6-24 months of probate court, costs from US$8,000-35,000 for probate fees, plus the transmittal of real property costs. In the worst-case scenarios, contested wills by the state or federal government, domestics, and/or family result in increased time frames, costs, and the possible loss of assets.
An Office Depot prefabricated generic will, even when signed, will not suffice to transmit real property and/or liquid assets or possessions properly.
Here are some common misnomers about wills in general:
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 away in drawing a line to the spouse for probate, it is not sufficient to avoid a potentially contested probate case or 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 government subsidy is given to notarios for Mexican nationals. The idea is that with an overwhelming number 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 up 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 be registered locally (municipal level), as well as on a state level and federally 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 ensure your legal representation is completely familiar with your needs and fluent in your language.
Thank you all for your questions this week. For more specific information on Inmtec Legal Services™, Inmtec Title Services™, Inmtec Insurance™, Estate Planning, Asset Protection, and AfterLife™ Medical Advocacy by Inmtec™, please contact Angel Marin Díaz at firstname.lastname@example.org, 415 121 9005 or www.inmtec.com
*AfterLife™ Medical Advocacy is a national program available exclusively through Inmtec™ that sees to the professional production of all the documents needed to oversee issues such as medical advocacy, pre and post-death planning, the care and transport of physical remains, and all issues regarding probate and emergency contact communication with friends and family for the peaceful transition of assets.