A Break from the European Trip for a Serious Discussion

I am interrupting my train of thought right now to discuss something that happened two years ago, after realizing that I had left out some important information. One month after moving here in January 2016, my mother passed away in the U.S. I had written two posts about this – one which detailed the reactions of my students and neighbors here and one a general discussion about health care proxies.

This morning I was emailing back and forth with a friend from New York, describing my blog, detailing how I not only talk about my adventures but also include unexpected situations in which ex-pats might find themselves and how I handled those problems. Then I went back and re-read my posts and realized I had forgotten to share the legal aspects of having a relative pass away when you are living in another country.

Back in Maryland, my youngest sister had been taking care of my mom – her daily activities, her needs, handling her financial stuff such as paying bills, etc. Perhaps any arrangement was made null and void upon her death, but, being the oldest child, I was held legally responsible for making any necessary arrangements after her death.

Because my sister had been handling everything all along, she was more aware than any of us about all aspects of our mother’s life, and so I wanted to let her continue to be in charge. For this, the lawyer in the U.S. stated that I had to give written permission for my sister to continue with these duties legally – and they needed to have the original, notarized forms in their hands, not a copy or fax.

So first my sister scanned and emailed me the forms, which I printed,  and filled out. In the United States, this would have been a very simple procedure. For where I had been living in New York, I would have driven 5 minutes to my bank, told them I needed a document notarized, shown them my ID, signed it and then the notary would have also stamped and signed it.

Well, no, it does not work that way here in Mexico.  First, a notario here is a lawyer, so my friend Anilu helped me find a notario and together we went to Colima to his office. When it was my turn, we explained the situation and they said, no, this document has to be translated into Spanish, so we went away and Anilu translated it for me and typed up another document.

When we returned, they asked me for practically my whole life story – besides name and date of birth, my marital status, occupation and any other question they could think of. That done, they said – OK, come back in 3 hours.

Three hours later, we returned and everything was signed and witnessed officially,  including a 2-sides-of-a page document that THEY had drawn up – and I had to pay….. well, I don’t remember exactly how much but it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 pesos, more or less (in today’s pesos, that’s about $30 USD).

Now I needed to send the original to the lawyer. Mail from Mexico to the U.S. takes anywhere from one month and I’ve had mail arrive up to three months after mailing. It takes the same amount of time in the other direction as well. So we headed off to the FedEx office to FedEx the documents to the lawyer.

So what would have taken about 5 minutes with no cost except a postage stamp to mail the document to the lawyer ended up taking 6 hours with unexpected twists and turns. I am grateful it didn’t take longer, as it would have if I didn’t have my Mexican friends who knew where to go to get everything done.

And so I will end this post, and you can add it to the list of unexpected occurrences in which travelers might find themselves and my experience in handling it. So hope you all have a good day, and my next post will continue to share my European trip.

In case anyone is interested in my earlier posts about my mom and about health care proxies, there are two articles which were posted in March 2016.  Take care, and adios until next time.

Oh, snap – one other things regarding documents that I might as well talk about while we’re here. Voting in U.S. elections. The year 2016 was Presidential Election Year and I wanted to make sure I voted. Before leaving the U.S. I signed up for an absentee ballot. At the proper time, the Board of Elections emailed me my ballot.

I printed out the ballot, filled it out and now it had to be mailed. First, as I said, it takes 1 – 3 months to arrive at the U.S. address, which means it would have arrived way after the election. Second, the address of the Board of Elections where I lived was a post office box, and FedEx does not deliver to PO boxes. Third, the ballot had to be placed in a sealed envelope addressed to the Board of Elections.

So this is what I did:

Printed out the ballot and filled it out.

Placed it in a sealed envelope with a U.S. postage stamp and addressed it to the Board of Elections PO box.

Went to FedEx in Colima and placed it in a documents envelope to be sent to my sister.

Sister received it, opened the FedEx envelope and then dropped my addressed, stamped, sealed envelope into the mailbox on her street.

And this is how we ex-pats do it……

Now – ‘bye-‘bye for real this time……………… Adios!

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