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Discussion Thread Forum

Posted by Louise Lander on Marzo 21, 2000

If I’m living in Mexico, with no traces of a residence in the U.S. other than a past history, do I need to have a Will drawn up in Mexico? Or do I need a Mexican Will for my Mexican assets and a U.S. Will for my U.S. assets? Mil gracias.

Posted by Bill on Marzo 21, 2000


It will be interesting to hear what Jennifer Rose offers as advice. I have often been asked by American friends of mine, who are full time residents of Mexico, to witness changes to their Will. I go with the friends to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City and witness the Will in front of an Embassy consular official who registers the document. I am told that with this procedure accomplished, the Will is valid in the United States. My friends also have considerable real estate assets in Mexico, the disposition of which is contained in the Will I witness. This is a very good question; the comments will be equally interesting I am certain. With something as important as this, why not consult your attorney at home, before coming to Mexico. You may also wish to execute certain Powers of Attorney and leave them with family, or your attorney, in the event you are taken ill, or (perish the thought) something happens to you. Good luck!

Posted by jennifer rose on Marzo 21, 2000

Bill’s right (except for the part about the interest in my response). An American Will can be drafted and executed here in Mexico, but you’ll want to consult an attorney who’s admitted to practice in at least one U.S. state to draft it. You may also want to consider a durable health care Power of Attorney and a Living Will lest the ultimate moment befall you while you’re Stateside. The American consulate here in Mexico is the appropriate authority to verify signatures. A U.S. Will should be drafted to provide for the probate of your US-situated assets, and a Mexican Will drafted for the disposition of your property in Mexico.


Posted by Louise Lander on Septiembre 07, 2000

I put this post on the LWR Forum without much luck, so I’m trying this one. I have recently moved from New York City to Guanajuato, where I intend to live year-round and permanently. I am shortly going to visit NY and want to get a will written while I’m there (most of my assets are US assets). The lawyer I’ve been exchanging emails with, however, says that if the will states that I’m a resident of Mexico, she doesn’t think it can be probated in New York State. How have other people addressed this problem? (I have a sister living in NY State, whose address I could use as a fictional residence, if necessary.) Muchas gracias.

Posted by Dutch on Septiembre 08, 2000

Here’s another insight on the subject, for what it is worth…The woman who had the courage to marry me and I bought a home in the Laguna Chapala area last year. We decided to take title with a deed, rather than using a bank trust (whose annual fees for doing basically nothing are escalating each year). The one advantage a trust has, incidentally, is in property transfers, as deeds take a LOT longer to process in event of a death (our broker has had experiences with sales that took over 9 months to close). There is also one other potential problem: if your current marriage is not your first, and you take title as husband and wife, each is considered by Mexican law to have an equal interest in the property. So far, so good. But if one partner has more kids than the other, they may not be able to share their inheritance in the property equally. Each partner can only name their natural kids as secondary beneficiaries. So in the case of one having two kids and the other having one, if both parents die at about the same time, one kid gets 50% and the other two 25% each. There is a way around this. After the initial deed is recorded, have another deed drawn up that supercedes the secondary beneficiary clause (and reiterates your spouse as primary beneficiary) and distributes the inheritance equally. Sounds mickey mouse, but it works. We found out about this when purchasing a second property in the area and were told Mexican law requires that we have a Mexican will. Then the issue of beneficiaries raised its ugly head. Cost more, but now all of our bases in Mexico are covered and our intent can be legally enforced. Point of the above – ask lots of questions of as many people as you can. There are also differences in National and State (Jalisco, in this case) law that need to be considered when dealing with wills and deeds. Buena Suerte!

Posted by Bob in Ajijic on Septiembre 07, 2000

Like Jim B. I have come up with a solution of sorts. My wife and I have exited Canada for tax purposes but left a will in place there with a lawyer. At his suggestion, when we settled in Ajijic I consulted a lawyer here. After review he said I didn’t need a Mexican will because… We own our house in trust with our kids named. We have our kids named as co-signatories on our accounts at Lloyd’s and the bank. Our other assets (elsewhere) have access arranged for our kids in case we check out together. Hope this helps… just one more way.

Posted by Ralph on Septiembre 07, 2000

You do not need an attorney to write a Will and Last Testament!! You can do your own on a paper napkin. What you must be concerned with is, will that Will endure the Probate, or Court process. If anyone, family or not, protests the Will, it had better be written….NOT ON A NAPKIN….but, with the assistance of an attorney, complying to all legal standards. It would seem to me that the best way to assure the validity, and respect of your last wishes, would be to have a Will drawn up by an Attorney in both countries. The Court in the jurisdiction of where your U.S. assets (Estate) are located are only going to be concerned with what is in their jurisdiction. Likewise, the Court, and Authorities in the jurisdiction of your Mexican assets are only going to be concerned with what is in their jurisdiction. Additionally, a concern is whether the named Estate Representative may encounter problems with local Authorities (and nosy neighbors) when trying to take possession of the Estate. It would seem to me it would be much more assuredly done, if there was documentation from the local Court to permit the Representative to perform his/her duties. I would presume one could name the same individual to act as Estate Representative in both wills. I would caution, though, that one should be certain the two wills not contain wording which may be deemed to be contradictive of one another, and thereby give cause to rightful challenge.

Posted by Jim Bentein on Septiembre 07, 2000

In our case (my wife and I), we had a lawyer put together an international will for us. We are Canadian and we also went non-residential for tax purposes (which Americans can’t do) but I see no reason why you couldn’t have an international will prepared. Check with a good lawyer or check an Internet space called escapeartist.com

Posted by Hank Duckman on Septiembre 09, 2000

One previous post summed it up nicely. You need a U.S. will for assets located in the US and a Mexican will for assets located in Mexico. The Mexican government/authorities have no claim on what you own in the US. Hank

Posted by Larry Burch on Mayo 24, 2000

I am a resident of San Miguel de Allende and have a Living Trust and Will in the U.S. My only Mexican assets are a lot, home and car. I would like to learn if it is necessary for me to have a separate Mexican will to cover my Mexican assets. If so, can anyone recommend a good lawyer to draft one. Also, how much should it cost.

Posted by jennifer rose on Mayo 24, 2000

Yes, you do need a Mexican will to properly transfer title to those assets upon your death. I’m sure that there are plenty of competent Mexican lawyers in SMA, but I can’t come up with any recommendations. The charge for drafting a Mexican will won’t even come close to what you would pay an American lawyer up North, but for your peace of mind, ask up front what the costs will be.

Posted by Andy in Dallas on Mayo 24, 2000

In the Dallas area, a simple will (all the stuff to wife, no kids) costs about $75 USD to have made. Also NOLO has forms for this on the web that allows one to do the simple stuff, as above, for only the cost of a notary and two witnesses, and many banks will do that service for free for their customers. (A more complex will has too many variables to estimate a price for.) So, I was wondering if anyone has a ball park range of what the simplest will (everything to wife, no kids) would cost in Mexico? I am NOT suggesting that it can be done without a lawyer since the Mex law probably has some quirks that NOLO hasn’t put the forms out yet (grin).. Thanks,
Andy in Dallas

Posted by Andy in Dallas on Mayo 25, 2000

My thanks to those who sent me price information for the Ajijic area. It seems that a SIMPLE will, typically “everything to the wife and no one else” will cost between $150 USD and $200 USD in the Ajijic area, based on estimates from several lawyers there….That’s in the neighborhood of what the same kind of will costs in the Dallas area, but it’s cheaper in Dallas if a legal clinic is used….I hope this lets readers estimate if they are being quoted a fair price…You know how lawyers are…… (grin) Andy in Dallas
P.S. If the will is not SIMPLE, has a lot of heirs and property divisions and stuff, it could cost a LOT more, and you need a lawyer more than ever. Darn!!!

Published or Updated on: March 1, 2000
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