Why You Might Need a Mexican Will and Why Now Is the Best Time to Get it Done

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If you have any assets in Mexico (e.g. personal property, bank accounts, vehicles, and real estate not in a fideicomiso), it’s a good idea to get a Mexican will.

The good news is that you can get one done easily at any notaría (notary’s office) and the price for the service will be up to 50% less during the months of September and October.

This is all part of a government campaign designed to educate people about the importance of having a will and to offer financial incentives to get one done.

Why You Might Want One

If you don’t have a will, your property and assets will be divided up according to Mexican law. That option may not work out well for your surviving partner or spouse because 50% of the shared property can be claimed by other relatives.

Even if you have a will in your home country, it’s still a good idea to get a Mexican will because it will save your family the time, expense and hassle of getting your foreign document recognized in Mexico.

Once you have a Mexican will, the entire probate process is much faster and can normally be handled entirely in the notary’s office without requiring involvement from the courts.

Another huge advantage of getting a Mexican will is that it will make it easier for your intended heirs to find the document because it will be logged into a national database called el Registro Nacional de Avisos de Testamento.

Where to Go

You can have a private attorney draft the document and then file it with a notaría (notary’s office), but this option is more expensive and unnecessary. You can skip the private attorney and go directly to the nearest notaría and have them do everything.

It’s important to point out that notary in Mexico is nothing like the job of the same title in the United States. In Mexico, notaries are attorneys who are tasked with, among other things, ensuring the validity of legal documents. In other words, you can trust them to get the job done correctly.

You can check the database of the Colegio Nacional del Notariado Mexicano to find the office closest to you. Just enter your city (ciudad) or state (estado):

http://www.notariadomexicano.org.mx/directorio/notarios.html

Costs

The price will vary depending on where you are in the country.

Here are the discounted prices (in pesos) obtained from the Colegio Nacional del Notariado Mexicano:

Some jurisdictions, like Mexico City, offer additional discounts.

Let’s Wrap This Up

When my wife and I moved to Mexico, getting a Mexican will wasn’t one of the things on our to-do-list; however, that all changed when we started talking to expats whose spouse or significant other died in Mexico.

The ones who had a Mexican will in place, said they were glad they did, and the ones who didn’t, said they wished they had. The consensus among them was that the document makes things much easier for the people who are left behind.

We decided to heed their advice, and last September, Linda and I both got them done.

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About the Author

Q-Roo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. In 2016, they started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) sharing their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border. The blog has been viewed over two million times and the articles have been republished in numerous periodicals across Mexico.

43 Comments on "Why You Might Need a Mexican Will and Why Now Is the Best Time to Get it Done"

  1. We put our daughter who lives in the US as the beneficiary of our Mexican Home. Do you still think we need a Mexican will?

    • It depends what else you own here. That doesn’t generally cover the contents of the home, other personal property, vehicles, bank accounts etc.

  2. Hi, just to add to your great article…it extends into October. And we definitely paid 50% less when we did my husbands, to when I did mine. This was a bit of rush job before going into hospital.

    • I saw that the federal website only shows it extending through September, but other state sites show September and October. I did some checking and it looks like the federal site needs to be updated…lol. I amended the post to show that the sale extends through the end of October.

      Thanks, Lis 🙂

  3. Suzanne Knowlton | September 8, 2018 at 12:08 pm | Reply

    I really enjoy your information. Thank you. I am moving to Merida next week and this has been so helpful.

  4. Great info! This is something I always wondered about ! Very reasonable too! Thank you!

  5. Angela Saunders | September 8, 2018 at 1:12 pm | Reply

    Hi Paul, great info. Do you know if MexLaw can do a will?

  6. If we have our house in a mexican corporation, do you think that changes anything?

  7. Dorothy Kaytor | September 8, 2018 at 2:16 pm | Reply

    We live full time in the Yucatan and our lawyer indicated that our Fideicomiso would easily transfer our property ( house and furniture etc) to the heirs as specified in the fideicomiso… . while a will would be a good idea if we had certain belongings that we wanted to specify go to certain heirs… As we live simply, the fideicomiso is sufficient according to him… Also he indicated that it is much simpler to execute than a will , because here it will involve a trip or two to court. He suggested that when any of us is talking to a lawyer about a will we ask them to describe what exactly happens for the heirs should the will need to be executed. What is the process and timeline!…

    • As it was explained to us by two separate attorneys, the fideicomiso is unaffected by the testament and the real property will be transferred to the heirs listed in that document. The testament will cover any other personal property and/or assets that you might have.

  8. I gotta say —- i really enjoy reading your blogs – a waelth of information. Thank you!

  9. Paul, is there a template for what we should put together to take to Notario? Also do you know if this can be used to designate rights to unmarried partner in event of emergency or death?
    Great suggestion, I wasn’t aware we could do this.

    • The notary will give you a form to fill out with all of the required information that they will need to complete the will.

      The testament mentioned in the article only applies to what happens after death; however, I imagine the notario or an attorney could assist you in creating a document that grants someone the authority to make decisions for you in the event of an emergency.

  10. Good advice. As a wills and probate attorney, I would also recommend that the will either meet the requirements of the state in the US where you may have property. Having two wills is not a great option because they could be seen as conflicting even if in two different countries.I can tell you that Texas will accept a Mexican will. I cannot say as to whether the opposite is true.

    • Mexico will recognize a foreign will but there is time and expense involved getting them to do so. That’s why we were advised to have a Mexican will that didn’t conflict with our U.S. will in order to make probate much easier in both countries.
      If we both pass away, our heirs can simply go to a notary’s office in Mexico to get everything taken care of quickly without the need to hire an attorney.

  11. Re: Doroty Kator’s reply. I believe your lawyer is correct. Here is some info I received from my trust.

    Continuity. The trust provides the ability to appoint Trustees Substitutes for the case of his death may be
    your children, parents, spouse, siblings, etc.., Charities or any person or entity with legal capacity to
    acquire, granting the right to be recognized as heir of such beneficiary rights in the succession avoiding
    problems such as:
    • The need to go to court to make it recognized as such.
    • The attorney fees for the processing of such succession.
    • Eliminate friction between Substitute Trustees.
    • It protects the assets of abuses by third parties

  12. Which notary did you use as I’m looking for one who’s fluent in English? Thanks for the information. Great job!

  13. Given the great price differences, can one own a home in one state and have the will done in another, or would one need to file in the state where one owns property? Thx

  14. Once again, you’re ahead of most, Paul. Well done. However, I wonder if there is such a thing in Mexican law as a Trust. In California, where I live, my wife and I have all our assets in a Trust, with the intention of avoiding probate at the time of our deaths. A trust specifies who the successor trustee is and is presumed to be any person designated by the Grantor who is generally considered by the Grantor to be a trustworthy individual whether a relative, a friend or ?. In CA, a trust is not subject to probate while a will is. So, I’ll wrap this up: does Mexican law provide for trusts or does a will serve the same purpose?

  15. Having a will in Mexico is a more than a sensible idea. I have two friends whose husbands passed away recently. One lady is a Mexican national, and the other is not. Both of their husbands were Mexican and relatively young when they passed. Both surviving wives lamented the fact that their husbands had not made a will. Both wives spent months of anguish, and expense going thru the courts to straighten out transfer and legal possession of assets, including the homes where they have lived for years. All of that legal wrangling could have easily been avoided with a will. It’s inexpensive to make a will, and will save your surviving loved ones a lot of problems and complications.

    • however, our notary told us it is not needed if you have a fideicomiso because it is stipulated in the fideicomiso who gets your property not your car or savings just the physical property so we don’t have a bank account and the car is in joint ownership with family in Canada

  16. Cathy Virgenock | September 9, 2018 at 8:01 am | Reply

    Great information .. always, but especially this post. Thanks!

  17. I have been told that my house purchased through a trust has a will covered in the trust text for just the house. Cars, bank accounts etc. another matter.

  18. Paul, I’m getting conflicting information from the article and then from reading these comments. We are buying property in your same Condo Complex. So it will be in a fideicomiso if I’m understanding everything correctly. Does that mean, as I understand from this very article, that we do NOT need the Mexican will? Sounds that way to me, as per your opening sentence: “If you have any assets in Mexico (e.g. personal property, bank accounts, vehicles, and real estate not in a fideicomiso), it’s a good idea to get a Mexican will.” Thank you.

    • Chuck, the fideicomiso will address who will inherit your condo. The will will cover everything else like cars, bank accounts, personal items.

  19. Suggest you recheck your sources. We were advised by two notaries and a lawyer that the price is $13,000 pesos per person since we are not Mexican citizens. Also advised that if we have a trust (which we do) there is no need for a Mexican will!!!

    • Then find another notary’s office. We have taken advantage of the discount and so have many of our neighbors who are non-citizens.

      The trust (fideicomiso) only addresses your property, not all of your other belongings (cars etc).

      • As a follow-up to this, I wrote several different notary offices around Quintana Roo and asked specifically if I would get the discount as a resident, not a citizen. Every notary office that I contacted said that I would.

  20. This has been a great exercise, because it got a lot of us thinking about what needs to be done in the end…. I am getting the same information from our lawyer that we don’t need a Will because our fideicomiso will cover us for the beneficiaries and the September/October deal is only for Mexican’s – not Gringos. He went on to say that even bank accounts require a beneficiary so that should be covered. The case in which he explained that a Will might be worth it is for the other assets such as cars, furniture artwork etc… So, we’ve decided to let the relatives figure out how to share the estate… and put the $5000 pesos in our pocket. But, thanks for keeping us informed!

    • We received the discount, and so did our neighbors. I also wrote several other notary offices and asked if we would receive the discount since we were only residents, not citizens. Every office that we contacted said that we would get the discount.

  21. Madeline contini | September 16, 2018 at 8:33 am | Reply

    Paul we need help finding a rental for one year condo or home as of December 15; please help us out!

    • I don’t know anyone who has a long term rental here in Akumal; however, my friend has a 3 BR house in Puerto Morelos in a gated community for around $700 + utilities. If you want to learn more about that place, send us a message via the contact form.

  22. Hola Paul … I also live in the same community as you and your wife. Do you know if the Fideicomiso Trust will protect the property in Mexico in the event of US lawsuit or do I need an additional Mexico Trust?

    Really enjoy your posts!!

    • Hi, Dennis. I haven’t researched that particular topic yet; however, my guess is that it will not provide the level of protection that we normally associate with trusts in the U.S.

      I’m basing my “guess” on IRS Revenue Ruling 2013-14 regarding Mexican land trusts (i.e. fideicomisos). In the majority of fideicomisos, the bank has no function other than to hold the title. In these cases, the IRS ruled that a Mexican land trust (MLT) is not a trust within the meaning of § 301.7701-4(a).

      I would suggest that you reach out to an attorney who is well-versed in liability issues that may extend beyond the border. In this area, I would recommend Mexlaw.

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