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  1. Please feel free to comment or point out errors or suggest comments or oversights How to Die in Mexico While many focus on coming to Mexico to live a relaxed lifestyle, nothing lasts forever and old age and bad fortune can befall us all one day. As Benjamin Franklin said the only two sure things in life are death and taxes. The reality is that the narcos won't get you (loose animals in the road at night are a bigger danger) and the vast majority of the deaths I see are from illness and a few auto accidents. Planning ahead will allow your heirs, whether family, friends or charities to have fewer hassles when administering your estate. Planning ahead means having a will as well as beneficiary clauses for your assets wherever possible and know who will handle things when you are gone as well as have your cremation prepaid and have a good relationship with a doctor who will be able to come and issue the death certificate. Here in Jalisco for real estate people can put a beneficiary clause to avoid probate and make the property transfer easier, the only restrictions are that you can only name as beneficiaries your spouse or parents, grandparents or children and grandchildren. You will have to prove this relationship when you want to change the deed by providing marriage or birth certificates along with apostilles or legalizations depending on where the certificates are from. Other states do not have provisions for beneficiary clauses in property deeds so you will need to leave a will. Most banks allow you to leave your account to beneficiaries if you die. It is a good practice when designating beneficiaries to name replacements as things happen and you may live a long life, longer than the first person you named as beneficiary. A will serves to dispose of your assets, both assets you have now and others you may later acquire. Also an important part of having a will is the naming of an executor. Many people put off making their will as they say they have beneficiary clauses or have few assets but an important part of a will is the executor who will fight for you when you are gone, as powers of attorney expire upon your death and the will then kicks in. If someone steals your property or embezzles your funds or if your death was related to an auto or other accident, the executor of your estate will be the legal representative to pursue your case with the insurance companies and in the courts. While naming your children as executors may make you feel comfortable, do they speak Spanish and will they be able to travel down to Mexico to properly take care of your affairs if needed and if there is a prolonged legal matter? A Mexican will, to dispose of property that has no beneficiary clause, if done through a Notary Public is registered in the national will registry so nobody can change it after the fact. A few US and Canadian attorneys living in Mexico offer to make wills but they are not registered and suspiciously in many cases the heirs never find the wills and later find out that friends and families of the attorneys now have the deceased's property. A will made in Mexico in front of a Mexican notary is valid in Mexico as well as in other countries. The only requirement may be an apostille and translation although we work with notaries who do dual column wills in both English and Spanish so that way all involved know exactly what each part of the will says. You may choose that your will is only valid in Mexico or worldwide. Generally speaking it is best to have a will in each country where you have property to avoid having to validate a foreign will and it is also better when having to transfer real estate. When naming people as beneficiaries, heirs, leaving them bequeaths or other items or assets, please be sure and check their full legal name to avoid problems when they come to receive the asset. Mexico is very strict with names and Billy Smith is not the same person as Billy James Smith. In wills and property deeds you can place name variations to clarify that a person is one in the same such as Ana Valeria Salas also known as her married name of Ana Valeria Mac Gregor. Also if you wish to leave property to a charity or legal entity, it is best to ask them for their corporate documents to see their exact legal name. Many people know entities by their nicknames or names in English but are ignorant of their true legal registered names in Spanish. Be sure to specify which office or branch will receive the money, merely naming the Red Cross may cause problems as there is the national Red Cross, Mexican Red Cross, Jalisco State Red Cross and one office in Chapala and another in Ajijic. Being specific will avoid disputes later on. After having a will you need to have a personal doctor. This will prevent your being taken to the morgue for an autopsy if you are found dead alone unless foul play is suspected then you will want to call the police. Your doctor can come to where you are found and see if you died from natural causes, avoiding having to make others fill out forms to claim your body. Your doctor should also know your full legal name (best to give him a copy of your birth certificate and passport) as well as your parents names and spouse´s name. This will ensure that there are no errors on the death certificate which are harder to change after the fact and which could cause problems or delays in the probate process. Your doctor will need to do something with your cadaver so best to pay a prepaid cremation plan with one of the funeral homes so that way no person or authority is storing your body until someone comes to claim it and pay the fees to take it to the funeral home. We have seen cases where the family or friends went on vacation and the body went unclaimed for weeks and had to be taken out of refrigeration. A prepaid plan where family, friends and neighbors know about it will make sure the doctor knows where to have the body sent and will not have to pass the collection plate around in order to pay for it. The funeral home will usually coordinate with the doctor, your home country´s consulate and the civil registry for the death certificates and the report of citizen death abroad. As soon as possible after the death the legal representative / executor / family needs to be notified in order to secure the valuables and important papers of the person. Police, "friends", neighbors and others many times feel it is their right to steal property of the deceased or that it is not unethical. Locks should be changed immediately and all property photographed and inventoried and nobody should be left unattended inside the property. It is amazing how many people abscond with property saying oh Joe told me if he dies to take all his jewelry and sell it. Getting it back is harder and if they bring items back, usually things are missing. Make sure nobody is left alone in the home and that it is properly secured and if police or others need to enter the home that it is on a strictly necessary basis and at no times should anybody be left alone in the home. To recap to die properly in Mexico you need to do the following: Prepare: 1) Make sure you have beneficiary clauses on your bank accounts and home (if your legislation permits) 2) Have a properly done will for each country where you have assets naming substitute heirs and executors. 3) Have a family doctor who knows you 4) Have a prepaid arrangement with a funeral home. 5) Have recently issued and apostilled / legalized copies of your birth / marriage certificates / adoption papers as well as those of any biological children who will receive property. 6) Have your executor / family / representative know where a copy of your will and other legal papers are as well as let those close to you know who these people are to notify them immediately. Let them know what you want done with your body or ashes. 7) Register that you are living abroad with your home country´s local consulate so they will have your emergency contact information. Upon your death: 1) Have somebody immediately notify your executor / family / representative / family doctor 2) Have your executor / family / representative notify your attorney and home country consulate 3) Have your executor / family / representative secure your property and assets and bar entry to everyone (except police and MP) to avoid theft of items or claims of possessory / squatters rights. 4) Have your executor / family / representative obtain copies of the death certificate, ashes, certificate of cremation and consular report of death abroad (first 20 copies are free so always request the 20). 5) Have your executor present copies of the death certificate to all banks with a request to freeze all accounts to avoid embezzlement and use of ATM cards, credit cards and checks tied to the accounts. 6) Prepare any probate filings and if necessary ask for a provisional designation of executor to fight legal battles in the courts.
  2. Mexico shortens waiting periods for some consular services Today in the Official Federal Register (DOF) Mexico published changes to the wait times for many consular services. This is the Mexican government's compliance with its National Development Plan for 2013-2018 and Goal V of "Mexico with Global Responsibility." The services where wait times have been shortened are services offered in Mexican Consulates outside Mexico. Examples of these services and wait times are: Certifications of Foreign Corporations, Legalization of Signatures and Documents and Powers of Attorney whose wait times have dropped from 30 days to 10 days. Menaje de casa for Mexicans and foreigners where wait times have dropped from 30 days to 10 days. Passport issuance where wait times have dropped from 10 days to 3 days. http://www.dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5434218&fecha=22/04/2016
  3. A client just informed me that he was turned away at the Laredo, Texas Mexican consulate because he didnt have an appointment and that they said the visa process now takes 3 days. This seems to be a drastic change from before. Has anybody else experienced this?
  4. As many of you may or may not know my office has been taking US passport renewals personally to the consulate in Guadalajara due to the payment issue as they cannot accept cash when they visit Chapala so people have not been able to turn in their renewals to the consulate when they visit the area. When I went today they said that they will probably not come in August due to their inability to provide services as there is no way for them to receive payment after CI Bank stopped issuing US Dollar checks and they cannot accept cash or credit cards when they visit the Chapala area. As the issue of how they can receive payment is not resolved there is doubt about when future visits will resume until the issue is resolved. People who have passports expiring soon will need to go personally to the consulate to present their renewal or have our office do it and you or we can pay cash in US Dollars or Mexican pesos (if you go personally you can pay by credit card). Then the next issue is receiving the passport. Previously we had turned in renewals and had them flagged to be brought to Chapala / Ajijic on the next visit. As the "next" visit has not been defined people will need to personally pick up their passports at the US Consulate in Guadalajara, pay for Fedex to deliver it to their home, or contact the consulate and authorize me to pick it up when I do my weekly visit there. Today they were quoting turn around times of 6 to 8 weeks but also said that most come back in 3 to 4 weeks. People were asking about emergency passports and that is by appointment only and only for life and death matters so please plan your travel accordingly.
  5. US Passport and US Tourist Visa Issues Currently the US government has an issue worldwide with its computer systems and this is slowing down the time for renewing US Passports and visas outside the US. Visa applicants who applied prior to June 9, 2015 seem to be ok but those who applied on or after that date have had their appointments cancelled and the following email has been sent out: " The Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs is currently experiencing technical problems with visa systems. This issue is not specific to any particular country or visa category. We apologize for the inconvenience and are working urgently to correct the problem and restore full operability. U.S. Embassies/Consulates are currently unable to process new applications submitted on or after June 9, 2015. Nonimmigrant visa applications who submitted their DS-160 online application prior to June 9, 2015, should plan to attend their scheduled appointment. If you submitted your DS-160 online application on or after June 9, 2015, please reschedule your interview appointment by following the instructions located on www.usvisa-info.com Individuals with urgent travel should follow the instructions for expedited emergency appointment found on: www.usvisa-info.com Sincerely, The Visa Information Service" Lake Chapala area residents have also experienced issues for passport renewals starting with the bank who would issue US Dollar checks for renewals losing their agreement with their partner US bank to do so making it impossible to pay for passport renewals when the consulate does their monthly visits to the Lake Chapala area. The only way to renew is to pay in cash at the consulate. They have also said that they may not come in July although nothing is confirmed yet. Current turnaround times quoted on the State Department´s web site have gone up to 4-6 weeks for regular passports and 8 business days for expedited (these used to be done in a day or two). My office offers the service of turning in passport applications at the consulate in Guadalajara (being able to pay with cash in Mexican pesos or US dollars) and giving instructions to bring the passports to the applicants on their next trip to the Lake Chapala area. The best advice is to renew your passport now if it will expire in the next 8 or 9 months as it may take a month or two to get it back to you and many countries want to see 6 months remaining when you enter. This is also good if you plan to travel this summer. The original news releases can be found at the following links for passports and visas http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports.html http://travel.state.gov/content/travel/english/news/technological-systems-issue.html
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