The Death Café – Advance Care Directives

In previous posts, I have described my journey through the Mexican legal system in my hunt to discover the documents needed if someone should die while in Mexico. This included obtaining an official replacement for my birth certificate, obtaining an apostille, presenting those two documents along with my marriage and divorce decrees and then having all of them translated into Spanish by a certified legal translator.

Following that, taking all of the documents to a justice and having a certificate drawn up and witnessed. The certificate states that the person listed on the birth certificate, and the person (me) holding my current legal name are the same person.

All of these efforts are required to ensure that my death certificate will be valid in both Mexico and the United States, saving my family and beneficiaries a mountain of grief when dealing with the insurance and other companies in order to obtain their benefits.

Only one document remained, and after much time investigating, along with many false leads, I finally have my Mexican Advance Care Directive, also known here as my Voluntad Anticipada.

Various states in Mexico have their own forms, just as it is in the United States of America. I was finding forms for other states, but not for Colima. Eventually, a friend found one for Colima, yet there was not much space for me to clarify my wishes. First, I filled out the Colima form in addition to a form from the U.S., thinking that the lawyer would combine the two into one form. What resulted was a translation of both stapled together which was totally inadequate, confusing and cost a lot of pesos for their trouble.

At that point, the lawyer explained that it would be best if I just created my own document, which I did with the help of a bilingual friend. We then took it back to the lawyer, along with my passport and another form of ID, which she photocopied to prove that I am who I said I was.

Now comes another twist to the story – specific to Colima State, where I live. With the final document prepared, the lawyer signed it to make it a legal document. However, no witnesses were needed. While it is a legal document, designating who can legally make healthcare decisions for me if I become mentally unable to do so, the document is not entered into the nationwide system, which is why no witnesses were required.

For other documents, such as my Mexican will, they are entered into a nationwide database. So, if I should die in another state, authorities would be able to enter my information into the system, and they can access my will. For a Voluntad Anticipada, that is not true. While Colima State has a document, the health department of Colima was supposed to also have a document prepared to be a part of the V.A. However, the health department has not yet created this document, so my V.A., while legal, cannot be registered with the government.

So for those of you living outside the U.S., or visiting other countries, please be aware that your documents such as Last Will and Testament and Advance Care Directive (also known as Healthcare Proxy) will probably not be valid outside of your home country. It is important to make sure you have accurate information and correct documents for your country of residence, so that there will be no problems for you or your loved ones if those unfortunate events come to pass.

If you wish to see a copy of my Directive (minus my personal information, of course) to use as a template, please write a comment with your request. My next post will be general education about Advance Care Directives, what they are, why they are important, and points to consider when creating one for yourself. I and some colleagues have created a presentation, which I can give on ZOOM, to educate the public on this topic, with possible modifications depending on your country of residence.

Or maybe way too much more than you want. If you don’t make your own decisions and put those decisions in the hands of someone you trust, those decisions will be put in the hands of an arbitrary person who may not share your values.

Until then, stay safe and have a great day……

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