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By Cholla Charli
Retiring in Mexico is a dream come true for many of us U.S. and Canadian citizens. But if we die while we’re here in Mexico, our dream will likely become a nightmare for our family members who don’t live here and are suddenly faced with a gauntlet of duties in a completely unfamiliar environment.
Imagine this: You live alone. You die unexpectedly. Your friends or neighbors discover you have passed and call the authorities. When your body is removed by the coroner, your home and belongings are vulnerable and there may be no one close who knows your last wishes or what must be done to settle your affairs.
When your family does arrive, they have no idea what is required, where to go or how to communicate with the many agencies that are involved. The hurdles they will face are numerous and frustrating; but it doesn’t have to be that way, thanks to the efforts of three local, non-national residents of Puerto Peñasco.
Linda Mottle and Kori Bonini wanted to save their families and the families of their Peñasco friends, from the challenges of making after-life arrangements while they are grieving. So they began to explore just what must be done.
“We were trying to find a solution to protect people,” said Mottle. “We soon realized we needed someone who could be an advocate when you die. Someone who could secure your assets and have the authority to tell people they cannot enter your home, and who could handle everything required.”
The women realized there was a need to create a legal document that would designate a conservator, a protector or guardian, with the legal authority to act on the part of the deceased and their heirs.
“There’s nothing like the provision of a conservator at this point in Mexico law. It’s not in the legal lexicon,” Mottle said. “The arrangement couldn’t be a contract because in Mexico, a contract is void when a person dies. It had to be a specialized will, which would give someone the legal authority needed.”
Mottle and Bonini sought out a person who had the compassion, commitment, ability and respect of local authorities to get it done. They soon zeroed in on Georgina Ross, the owner of Puerto Peñasco Bilingual Services who has operated successfully here for more than 11 years.
“Georgina got it. She knew this was huge and badly needed,” Mottle said. “She is fully on board and has invested time and money to increase her all-bilingual staff and expand her offices behind City Hall.
“The most gratifying part has been the help and support from both sides, Mexico and USA, to expedite and help the relatives when the time comes,” Mottle added.
In Mexico, not one but three death certificates are needed from various agencies, along with birth certificates, passports and marriage certificates, which must be sent to the Consulate which makes up the Death of a Foreign National certificate needed by insurance companies back in the U.S. The death certificate is only one step in this gauntlet that must be run when a non-national dies in Mexico.
To simplify the process, they created a data sheet for clients. The client completes the data sheet, providing all the information that will be needed to make after-death arrangement. Those arrangements could include funeral arrangements, contacting the USA consulate, getting the death certificate and securing the property.
Additional services, include the disposition of personal items, sale of real property, closing utility accounts, contacting insurance companies, can be arranged for additional charges.
This Conservator Service can help non-national residents of Sonora and their families protect assets, and assist with any associated services the family desires. There will be a one-time fee to sign-up for the service and a small annual data update fee. People living together who are not legally married are considered individuals and will be charged the individual rate. To get started, clients will need to complete the data sheet and state their wishes for disposition of remains and personal property after their death.
To learn more about the service, attend one of the upcoming short presentations. The first presentation will take place on Friday, Jan. 20th at 3 p.m., at Playa Bonita Restaurant conference room and another will be offered on Thursday, Jan. 26th at the same time and place. February presentations are set for Wednesday, February 15th at 1PM at Pink Cadillac with appetizers provided, and at the American Legion on Tuesday, February 21st at 1PM, before bingo.
If any group or HOA is interested in having a presentation, they can contact Georgina Ross at (638) 388-5322 (MX phone) or (520) 265-3789 (US phone). MX Cell 638-112-0922. firstname.lastname@example.org