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SETTING UP A LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT IN BAJA

1. What is a Will?

A Will is the document where the wishes of a person are expressed with respect to his belongings and property and the designated people who will receive it at the time of his death. Its basic purpose is that the ownership endures despite the owner’s death.


 

2. A Will in Mexico

In the United States the law is determined by each state and certain rules must be followed. The same is true in Mexico. So you have to make sure that you are following the rules of the Mexican state that the property is located in.

In either country you have similar laws that will be followed upon someone’s death. But the main difference between the two countries is that there is NO right of survivorship in Mexico. Make sure that you make out your Will in Mexico and that you get it processed by the Notario.

 

3. Process of a Will in Mexico

Upon the death of a person that has prepared a Will, their Will will be presented to the Notario and a letter will be given to the heirs documenting that they now own the property described in the Will.

There are certain documents that you may already have in place, like your Fideicomiso and your bank account, that have designated beneficiaries that will be able to take possession of the property or the money in the bank.  But without a Will there may be possessions, like motor vehicles, boats, art and jewelry, which will not pass the way you would want or expect. The answer is to make sure you have the correct documents in place before you need them.

When it comes to married couples there is no right of survivorship. When the death of one of the couple occurs, an undivided half will be transferred pursuant to either the decedent's Will or pursuant to state intestacy provisions. Without a Will, if there are surviving children, the distribution could find the surviving spouse disinherited.

There is not a consensus of what the law requires so we advise you to get a legal advisor if you have valuable property in Mexico and you want to control what will happen to it in the event of your death. Estate laws are governed by each Mexican state and there are differences among them.  Wills are not under Federal jurisdiction so the state laws governing Wills prevail.  

 

4. Setting up a Will in Mexico

It is very easy to create a legal Mexican Will.  All you have to do is present your wishes to an attorney to make sure what you want to do is legal. The attorney will prepare the document in Spanish and have it signed by you, the witnesses and the Notario.

You need to be prepared with the following:

  • Fill out a form provided by the Notario
  • 2 Copies of your Will
  • 2 Manila Folders
  • Original ID and 2 copies
  • Two witnesses with their respective ID and 2 copies of their ID


You will then receive the final documents. This will give you the security that your wishes will be respected.


5. Cost of a Will in Mexico

The cost to setup a Will in Mexico varies by State and Notario, however, during the month of September the cost greatly reduces by at least 50% due to a National Campaign called “The Testament Month”. As of the time of writing the price range in Baja California during the Campaign was between $1,100 and $2,200 Pesos. Price varies depending on the complexity of the Will.