The last will and testament as an act of last will are efficient to transmit an inheritance after death. It is a very useful legal tool not only for Mexicans but also for foreigners. On this subject, it is pertinent to make some assessments of various situations.
FOREIGNER WITH A WILL IN COUNTRY OF ORIGIN.
In this case, it is important that a living will be drawn up in Mexico that does not contradict what is established in the foreign will. In the absence of the Mexican will, the foreign will (from Canada or the United States) must be homologated, legalized, or apostilled, in addition to accompanying the relevant documents that must be sent to the Mexican courts. It’s a very slow, and expensive process. In the case of joint ownership, between the spouses, the survivor does not automatically acquire the title of property with death. That is why it is suggested that they prepare a living will before a public notary.
FOREIGNER WITHOUT A WILL FROM COUNTRY OF ORIGIN.
Unlike the previous case, they are in a worse situation because there is no last will and testament document. The heirs are designated by law and in the order and proportion that is indicated thereof. Spouses and children are called to intestate succession, in equal parts. If there are none, the succession is transmitted to the relatives of the deceased who are still in the ascending grade (father and mother). The closest relatives exclude the most distant. Relatives of the same degree inherit equally. The straight-line excludes the collateral.
FOREIGNER WITH A REAL ESTATE TRUST “FIDEICOMISO” IN MEXICO.
Regarding the property held in trust, reference to property in the restricted area (borders and coasts) or outside the restricted area (rest of the country), the substitute beneficiaries will be left with a simple procedure with the collaboration of the notary public. As trustees substitutes, they are relieved of the need to pay property acquisition rights or registration rights before the Public Property Registry. If the foreigner owns personal property (boats, vehicles) or owns bank accounts within the Mexican financial system, it is recommended to foresee in the Mexican last will and testament who will be the heirs. In addition, particularly in the case of bank accounts, verify that there is no inconsistency with the designation that was made of beneficiaries at the time of opening the account.
FOREIGNER WITHOUT A REAL ESTATE TRUST IN MEXICO.
This applies to those who have decided to acquire real estate outside the restricted zone where ownership of real estate requires a fideicomiso, which is the majority of the Mexican territory (outside the 50km strips on the coasts and 100km on the borders). These types of owners must have their will, either abroad or in Mexico, but taking into account the high international procedural costs derived from the homologation that I referred to in the first case.
Succession without a will is not the end of the world, either. If there are no heirs, in Sinaloa for example the real estate will pass to the ownership of the Public Charity, for social assistance purposes. Thank you very much in advance for your generous decision not to make the will.
The recommendation is, therefore, to approach a notary public who knows the language of the testator and understands the functioning of the legal institutions of your country. A translator is not enough, but a true interpreter, in a context of notarial professionalism.