The number of long-term foreign residents in Mexico is rising and yet a remarkable number of foreigners living here have never considered the implications on their loved ones and their estate if they die in Mexico. And of those that have, many have applied the manaña principle to addressing the matter.
Estate planning for legal residents in Mexico
The estates of tourists and temporary visitors who come to Mexico for a short period are not affected by this issue as they are most likely to be legally domiciled in their home country, where their will would be read and interpreted, regardless of where in the world they die.
However, for residents living in Mexico (and those planning to make Mexico their primary residence, or legal domicile), it’s important to ask the question: How will my estate and loved ones be affected when I die in Mexico?
It’s a simple question with complex answers, and taking the time to consider your present circumstances and plan for your passing in Mexico will ensure that your loved ones will not be left dealing with complex legal matters, and that your assets and other interests are dealt with according to your wishes when you die.
If you already have a living will set-up in your home country, you also need to consider how that might be affected by your legal residence in Mexico; you might have to take steps to ensure that your wishes are legally enforceable under Mexican law. Mexico’s legal system is markedly different from places such as the US, Canada, and other European countries, hence the importance for foreigners living in Mexico to acquaint themselves with local laws and customs—and prepare their estate accordingly.
Who needs to make estate planning arrangements?
Planning for your estate to be properly administered after your death is especially important if you:
- have legal residency in Mexico;
- own a home in Mexico;
- hold a bank account(s) in Mexico;
- have savings and investment plans in Mexico;
- own a company in Mexico;
- hold any trusts in Mexico;
- have assets split between Mexico and other countries.
Professionals who can help
You will need to hire some professional help to get this done properly.
We have explained in these pages before now the importance of the role of the Notary Public in Mexico, and this person should be your first port of call as you begin to plan your estate. Even if you use other services to structure your estate (e.g. financial planner), you will need to hire a Notary Public in order to get the necessary legal instruments in place.
If you have business interests in Mexico, you should also consult with your accountant about matters related to any business accounts or assets, especially where these are held in company names, trusts, or jointly owned with others.
If you have a financial planner or investment manager, you should also involve that person in discussions about planning your estate.
Your country’s consulate
As we mentioned in our article about consulate support, your home country’s consulate can only provide limited support in relation to personal matters, and in the event of a natural death, they will usually help to identify and contact the person’s next-of-kin in their home country. They cannot and won’t become involved in any matters related to estate disputes, probate or any issues in relation to your personal assets in Mexico.
Don’t delay your estate planning work
If you’re living in Mexico and have any significant assets here or abroad, and have been procrastinating on matters related to your estate, or if you plan to move and create a new lifestyle in Mexico and want to ensure that your assets and personal interests are protected if you die when you’re here, you need to stop thinking about it and start taking some action. By making adequate plans for the inevitable, your loved ones will be grateful and your assets will be properly administered.
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