End of Life Decisions in Banderas Bay
This is a summary report from the informative seminar held on 5 November 2014 at the offices of O&A (O’Rourke & Associates) at Marina Vallarta, organized by Pamela Thompson. The panel comprised: Patrick Courcelles (Canadian Consular Agent); Kelly Trainor (American Consular Agent); Jazmin Perez Cisneros (Celis Funeral Service);attorney Rolando Romero; Dr Fernando Marquez (Amerimed Emergency Physician); Leslie Swindle (Cardiologist, office at Amerimed); Dr Antonio Matilla (Immune Diseases, CMQ Premiere & Amerimed); and Dr Daniel Velasco (Oncologist office at Advance Medical Clinic). In order to save time, questions were submitted in advance by email, and were addressed to the appropriate members on the panel. A few remaining questions were asked at the end.
Power of Attorney:
A marriage certificate is required to create a legal Power of Attorney locally in case of critical illness or accident, as a married man and wife couple appointing the other spouse. Otherwise any person can designate anybody. A PoA (or Will) drawn up outside of Mexico is recognized here but might need to be translated, and sometimes to have an apostille. Canada is not party to the Hague Convention governing apostilles: you need to get your PoA or Will legalized by a Mexican Consulate or Embassy in Canada. (See Essential Info: Legal: IMSS & Apostille.) Both Agencies here can notarise documents (USD $50) you need official ID and two witnesses.
It is a good idea to get a notarized Mexican document if you are a full time resident with property – especially if you do not want some family member interfering in your affairs. You can only leave your property to a physical person, not to an estate or corporation. You can create a Living Will – or include it in your PoA, the cost will be in the region of US $150 – $200 if you provide your own translator – the notario’s translator will cost more. You need to think carefully beforehand as to all your wishes and ensure they are translated correctly.
Affidavit of Your Wishes:
The American Consular Agency have a standard form for this which you can use it as an extension to your PoA for your health care wishes (& give a copy to your Doctor). It needs to be signed, two witnesses, and notarized. It also acts as your authority as to who can receive your remains and belongings. As a single person it is very important to authorize the receiver of your remains as a well meaning friend cannot just go along and do this. The Executor of your Will is not necessarily responsible for receiving the remains, unless specifically nominated.
It is important to register with your Consular Agent/Embassy regarding your Next of Kin, (you can do this online) as they will endeavor to contact them, and you should advise your NoK of your Affidavit of Your Wishes, even if this names somebody else to act on your behalf. Any NoK not here will need to send confirmation that the deceased can be cremated/interred. If you do not have a NoK you should make arrangements for a friend to act on your behalf, seeing to your wishes and dealing with, and paying, the funeral expenses.
It is a good idea to take a photocopy of your passport photograph/details page and on the back note your NoK and emergency contact number – and carry this in your wallet/purse at all times.
If your property is held in joint names there is no need to remove the name of the deceased from your Escrituras (bank trust). When you sell the property this will be taken care of at that time. If your property is held in trust there is no need for a Mexican Will, it passes to the named beneficiary, a simple process and there is no Probate. Whoever is dealing with the matter needs to go to a notary who takes the documentation (bank trust deeds, death certificate, ID) to the bank who holds the Escrituras – of course taxes will need to be paid and also the notary. The money in your bank account likewise goes to the named beneficiary. If your property is not in a trust then you will need a Mexican Will. (See: Essential Info: Legal: Your Will).
This is not legal here.
The ventilator can be reduced to minimum requirements and sedatives administered.
A person can be removed from a ventilator as long as certain circumstances are met and the physicians and family member(s) are in agreement. You can create a written letter “I do not want advanced manoeuvres” sign and date it and have it witnessed, and liaise with your physician, and this will be honoured. And you can also carry this with you in case of an accident. Some people have Do Not Resuscitate as a tattoo. But you should carefully consider that life support equipment is intended to be curative, it is giving the body time to survive. This is a decision that should be made individually at the time according to the prognosis.
Cardiac arrest/serious accident:
First call for help – call one of the many private ambulance services and name the hospital of your choice.
If you are trained in CPR you should perform this for as long as you are physically capable or until professional help arrives. The “hands only” method requires 100 compressions per minute. You can check online how to do this. In the Emergency Room they will continue for up to 20 minutes additional to previous efforts but will stop if there is absolutely no sign of any electrical activity at all. It is taken into consideration the quality of life if the patient should recover after such a lengthy period. Brain dead tests including response to pain may be included.
It does not matter what your immigration status is, everyone is treated equally. The ER will do their best regardless of your financing: “an emergency is an emergency.”
In case of death:
At home: If the person has been ill for some time, call your local Doctor who will confirm the death and if you have made arrangements with Celis Funeral Service call them. They will deal with everything. (see below). If you have an elderly visitor die then the Mexican judicial authority will be involved and you should contact your local Consular Agent. If there is no foul play, there is no need for an autopsy. If it is criminal then the police will be involved.
In hospital: Call the funeral home. The attending Doctor will sign the death certificate – in order to do so the passport of the deceased is necessary.
The death certificate will be in Spanish. You need to provide the exact name as on the person’s passport. You should request 10 copies. Translations can be done here. America (not Canada) issues a “Death Abroad Certificate”.
Calling the ambulance:
Learn – and practice – how to give the directions to your property in Spanish! Write it out and put it by the phone/on the fridge.
Celis Funeral Service:
You can pre-pay the funeral package, you receive a numbered certificate. The cost for cremation is US $1,050. (November 2014) (Check with Celis direct for the cost for burial – private or Government ground.)
The cremation fee includes: 24 hour service removal of the body from the residence/hospital within a maximum distance of 50 kms. Cremation with a simple urn for the ashes. Counseling available 24/7 to obtain medical & legal death certificates as well as receipt of remains for out of town transfer. As a married couple you can deal directly with Celis, they will liaise with your Agent. If the contracting person decides to leave Mexico, the package is not refundable, but it can be transferred to somebody else here.
Call Jazmin for further details: cell 322 105 0751
24/7: Tel: Pto Vallarta: (01) 322 222 1671 / (01) 322 222 0544
email: [email protected]
A family member/Next of Kin can carry the ashes back to your country but any other person will need a facilitating letter from your local Consular Agency. Many people have their ashes scattered in the Bay – not strictly legal, but… The ashes should be scattered, not just drop the container over the side.
Embalming can be carried out if there is no disease. The body can be returned to, ie, USA or Canada if it is in good condition and with the permission of the authority. Depending upon the destination the cost is in the region of US $3 – 4,000. It is important to get confirmation that the destination airport/country will receive the body.
There is a new company starting up in Vallarta. Especially valuable for people living on their own, you can wear this and get 24/7 assisted living service. For full details: email: [email protected] or call: Cell: 322 139 2704
Pamela has been here for many years liaising between residents and medical specialists. If you have a problem and don’t know who to call – call Pam !
Cell: 322 107 7007 Office: (01322) 226 2080
Email: [email protected]
This information correct as 15 November 2014. If you encounter differently, please: Contact Us
Disclaimer: This information is not meant as legal advice. It is for educational and informational purposes only. Government policies vary between States and offices, and Mexican Government officials have broad discretion in how they individually enforce policies, so, your personal experiences may vary. See a professional for advice on important issues.