Mexico: Death in Mexico
Death: No thank you. Dying: Gives me a panic attack. Burial: Not today, please. Of all the subjects I could write about, this one is my least favorite. It, in fact, could easily send me into the mother of all anxiety fits. Nevertheless, it is necessary to visit the subject since I now live in another country.
Death is a topic that I managed to avoid most of my life until January 2003, when my mother passed away. No more than seven months later, my youngest brother died of undetermined causes. Easter Sunday 2004, my best friend died of kidney cancer.
Was God trying to tell me something?
So, here I am, living in Guanajuato, Mexico, with my wife and I have no "arrangements" in the event of my demise. Maybe God was trying to tell me to wake up and smell the tacos.
Therefore, I decided to investigate this. After all, what if something happened to me and left my wife as a survivor? What would or could she do? I did not want to leave her holding the bag (or coffin), so to speak. How horrible would that be?
Therefore, I did what any red-blooded American would do-I called our lawyer.
Our Mexican lawyer is not only our abogado but also our friend. His name is Jesus but is called "Chucho". Don't ask me to explain this because I haven't the answer. His son, who is also Jesus, is called "Chuchin". They don't use "junior". Again, I cannot explain this.
Anyway, here is what Chucho told us:
a) Just as in the U. S. A., you can contact the services of a funeral home that will offer you several packages for burial or cremation. This makes sense.
b) Depending on your immigration status, you can make a statement of "arrangement" (I am translating this from Chucho's Spanish so bear with me). In other words, you will make a sworn statement regarding your "arrangements" in front of a "Notario Pщblico". This is not the same as a Notary Public in the United States. This is more like a legal representative-not a lawyer but close.
c) Leave precise instruction with your Mexican bank. When we opened our bank account in Mexico, we not only had to designate a beneficiary but we also took out an insurance policy that covered death, accidents, and dismemberment (Can you see why I hate talking about this?-sheesh!).
Now, that's what Chucho said and, if I am getting the translation right, then I hope this helps. If it doesn't then here is more morbid prose you can read.
According to the U. S. Embassy in Mexico's website, "When a U. S. citizen dies abroad, the Embassy can notify the family at home and provide information about the options and costs of disposition of the remains. Costs for preparing and returning the remains from Mexico City to the U. S. are high and the family must pay all costs. The Embassy also prepares a Report of Death based on the local death certificate. This Report can be used as proof of death in most legal proceedings in the United States."
What we plan to do is, well, die in Mexico. Why spend a small fortune that could conceivably be enough to wipe out the national debt of Guatemala in sending our remains to America? The insurance that we have with our bank will cover the costs of a Mexican funeral and cremation (our preference-it's cheaper!).
The point is don't wait until something happens. Make arrangements as soon as you expatriate to Mexico. Call a local lawyer and get this little unpleasantness taken care of and then you can go into total denial (as I do) that anything will ever happen to you.
My next phone call will be to a local shrink.