Death and Dying in Mexico – the “Devil is in the Details”

Originally posted on the private Facebook group Yucatan Beach Friends on June 11, 2023
Copyright 2023 Mary Elizabeth Walberg
Reprinted by Beach Area News with permission of the author


This is a very grievous and sensitive topic, and it is so very important. Permanent residents, temporary residents and long-term snowbirds need to heed these guidelines and pre plan. So, fasten your seat belt as we dive right in.

This applies to married couples, common law relationships, same sex relationships and singles. The following is all pertinent.

The Basics.

Get your paperwork in order. The most important thing you can do for your loved ones is to prepare in advance. Here are the steps.

Step 1.
A Canadian or American will or a will from any other country is NOT valid in Mexico.  A Mexican will is important to bequeath your assets. A Last Will and Testament will cost between 6 000 to 10,000 pesos.

Step 2 .
A Living Will.  This document sometimes is called an “Advance Directive” and was passed into law in Yucatan in 2008.  This law grants people the right before they are sick to decide and express their feelings about medical procedures and care that prolongs life artificially. Hospitals do have a document for this purpose, but if you fall into a coma, or are unconscious well obviously you are are not able to sign. Please consider this thoughtfully, prolonged hospital stays are costly.

In Mexico, Assisted Suicide or euthanasia is not allowed.

Anyone of legal age can have a Living Will prepared. It is a short document prepared by a lawyer and stamped and signed in the presence of a Notary.

Step 3.
Any bank accounts or investment accounts, or fideicomiso in Mexico should have your beneficiaries’ names on the file.  Plus if you have a Corporation that holds your assets (house) make sure you have more than 2 names on it.  A corporation with one shareholder is invalid.  As I discovered, steps will have be be taken to introduce a new shareholder before the corporation can take any action, like perhaps selling the house. But do not panic, this is something you can address with your lawyer to introduce a new shareholder or 2 or 3 , in due time.

Also if the new shareholder holds Mexican Residency they will need an RFC number. If the new partner(s) do not hold Mexican Residency, then no.  I have a highly approved accountant to recommend for getting the RFC, his name is Jesus Celis Barco, 999 163 8823.  His business card will be posted at the end.  This revised Deed of Corporation will have to be notarized, and your lawyer will take care of that.

Step 4.
If you were married in a country other than Mexico you must have your marriage certificate apostilled if that country is part of an agreement called the Hague Convention and then in Mexico translated into Spanish by a certified translator.  For marriages in a country like Canada, which is not in the Hague Convention, the process is similar, but called different things.  A Canadian marriage certificate has to be authenticated, at a government office like Canada Services, then taken to a Mexican consulate for stamping ( sometimes called legalizing) and then in Mexico translated. It is recommended that all marriage certificates, then be taken to the Civil Registry office on Calle 74 X 39 to be “enrolled”. This is a preventative measure and a step recommended by a lawyer.

The marriage certificate is vital to proving Next of Kin. If you have no known Next of Kin, please talk to a lawyer.  Another important reason for providing an apostilled/ authenticated marriage certificate is that the surviving spouse’s name goes on the death certificate. This is necessary if there are pensions or other benefits you are entitled to.

Step 5.
A copy of your birth certificate, does not need to be original.
Snowbirds who are here part-time should bring this “long form,” from Vital Statistics to Mexico.  Not the wallet card. It will need to be translated by a certified translator.
It has been suggested that all these pertinent papers be kept in an easy to find file called, “Upon My Death”. Please include the contact name and number of the person designated to act on your behalf, Power of Attorney after your passing.

What to do at time of death.

If you experience the death of a loved one, friend or neighbor, do NOT call 911, the police or a firetruck but call 1 of 4 of these people:  your pastor , your doctor, your Mexican lawyer, or the funeral home.  The first three are all going to notify the Funeral Home in Progreso, especially if you live in one of the beach communities. You can call or WhatsApp the Funeral Home , Reyes Rodriguez, 24 hours a day, 999 970 2561 and they will explain what is necessary in regards to the paperwork, which hopefully you have in the “Upon My Death” file.

The Funeral Home has a wide selection of caskets and urns. If you wish to talk to the Funeral Home in person, I advise you to bring a translator. If you are not living in a beach community in the Progreso area, have the name and phone number of the Funeral Home of your choice included in your file.

The first thing is a doctor will be sent to your location by the funeral home. He or she will quickly arrive to examine the deceased and determine cause of death. A medical history and list of meds would be really helpful. This applies to a death from natural causes. Once the doctor issues a Certificado de Defuncion, (the death certificate) everything else will be handled by the funeral home, but you must have the paperwork.

In addition to the marriage certificate, you will need a copy of the deceased’s passport, birth certificate , proof of Mexican Residency, CFE bill or a bill to prove your address in Mexico. In some cases a copy of the Will.

If the death is suspicious, violent, or a suicide the cause of death needs to be determined by an autopsy and these bodies are not allowed to be cremated, and they could be retained for months, by the State.

You are never ever allowed to transport a deceased body in your car.

Second- the body will be picked up, promptly by the funeral home and transferred to a facility in Paraiso.  In accordance with Mexican health authorities a body should be buried, cremated or embalmed within 48 hours of death.  If there are delays, the funeral home charges per day to store the body.

If no preparation has been done, it maybe necessary to involve the American or Canadian consulate, (or consulate from your country) and will end up costing you much more due to these delays.  If a person dies with no known Next of Kin, their body will be placed in a common grave.

The purpose of this post is to encourage everybody to get started, on your “Upon My Death” file to make this experience less difficult and less painful. Many of you have been thru this, and you know how hard this is.

A word about Common law relationships.

In discussing this issue with lawyer Alexis Cepeda, (, who is also a certified translator, and the Funeral Home Director, Carlos Rodriguez Rodriguez, of Reyes Rodriguez Funeraria, both said it would be easier and faster for a couple to go to Quintana Roo and tie the knot, instantly providing a document that proves Next of Kin.  Of course I understand for some couples this is simply not possible.  Proving a common law relationship as a legal relationship could take up to a year to have it recognized in a family litigation court in Mexico. This applies to unmarried couples, unmarried same sex relationships as well.

So, the partners in these circumstances would have to each use a sibling or biological offspring as Next of Kin, like a single person.

A word for the Single community.

For you to prove next of kin, you can use one of your children or a sibling. Having the same last name would be ideal, but if not, both of your marriage certificates and birth certificates will be necessary to show the connection and how the chain of names have been changed.  (The marriage certificates need to be apostilled or authenticated and translated). Or if you are single possibly inquire about having a Power of Attorney, where upon your death, they act as Executor.  Have a discussion about this option with your legal advisor.

Due to the fact there is no refrigeration, cremation or burial takes place very rapidly.
Cremation has been growing in popularity because the cemeteries are full, even though the Vatican frowns on this practice.

If it is not possible to prove kinship the body must be embalmed. There is a fee for this service as well as storage fees until the correct papers are provided. This is not a joyful option.

Another option is to rent a burial plot, or a crypt for a minimum 2 years or there is also the option of purchasing a plot and resigning yourself to being interred in Mexico.

Most people are cremated, and either save the ashes or scatter them somewhere meaningful, discreetly, but it is possible to ship a casket out of the country. Only very occasionally is this service requested. An example of the cost of shipping a casket from Progreso to Dallas, Texas is 39,300 pesos, depending on fluctuating currency. This includes all expatriate paperwork, necessary consular procedures and translations. Do not travel across international boundaries with your loved ones ashes, in your luggage without getting a letter of authorization from the Funeral Home.


A basic cremation starts at 19,500 pesos. A basic casket funeral starts at 23,500 and goes to 59,000.  This model has strip lighting.  All wooden caskets are made in Merida. There is a selection of steel caskets as well. Extra things like transportation by hearse, and use of a reception room for visitation are extra. Pre paying is not recommended, by a lawyer I consulted with writing this.

Internment fees to rent a plot for 2 years is 7,500 pesos. To buy a plot 10,500 pesos. Maintainance is 250 pesos a year. These prices will fluctuate with inflation. This is at the Recinto Reyes Rodriguez Facility in Paraiso. Foreigners do not have access to being interred in the local cemeteries.

The Funeral home in Progreso, on calle 32 82×84 was founded in 1986, by Armando Rodriguez and Rosy Rodriguez. They had 2 sons Armando, who 2 years ago died at age 35 of covid complications, and Carlos who is now 30 and the General Director.

Helpful Tips for the Living Spouse, or legal representative.

  • Provide vehicle titles, extra keys to home and car. Itemize bank accounts, investment accounts, and Insurance policies, for car, property, and health . List credit cards and passwords you use to open your computer, phone, tablet as well as passwords for credit/ access cards and social media accounts. Provide the code to open your safe, if you have one.
  • Name the Funeral Home of your choice, list your lawyer , accountant, financial investment representative and Life insurance contact names and numbers.
  • If you have beloved pets, make a plan for their care.
  • Have your Corporation Deeds or Fedeicomiso documents and your Will in an easy to find location.
  • Do not get caught with being the “companion” on a joint credit card. As soon as the credit card is notified of the death the living spouse is blocked.
  • When the Funeral Home or Civil Registry office, on calle 74 in Progreso gives you the Official Death Certificate, ask for at least 7 or more copies. They are going to have to be submitted to Immigration, your consulate, governmental agencies, (like Revenue Canada) and banks etc.
  • Some people recommend the S.T.E.P. or Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, designed for US citizens. It can assist connecting family and friends in case of emergency. They do not finance any costs associated with this.

If you are wondering. ..

How to obtain your long form marriage certificate and long form birth certificates-
In Canada, contact the Dept. of Vital Statistics in the province you were married or born. You do this on line with credit card in hand. Take the marriage certificate to a government office like Canada Services, and have them authenticate it. Then take it to a Mexican Consulate in Canada and have them stamp and seal it. In Mexico, both it and the birth certificate must be translated by a certified translator.

For Americans or any nationality in the Hague Convention. Apply to the authority in the State, or county where you were married and born where the vital statistics are filed, and once you receive the marriage certificate, find a service that provides “Apostille”. This is a standard of line by line authenticating. Then in Mexico that and the birth certificate needs to be, translated by a certified translator.

More questions?

Please call Alexis Cepeda, who is not only a certified translator, and lawyer 999 159 1390 or Progreso lawyer Luis Miguel Palma at 999 292 0902 or book an appointment at the Reyes Rodriguez Funeral Home, and bring a translator. Questions about the RFC requirement, contact the accountant Jesus Celis Barco, 999 163 8823.

More information for US Citizens:

More information for Canadian Citizens (PDF download):

This is The Sunday Morning Story. This is an immense subject and there are many things not exactly black and white, but I have endeavored to share with you what the law says. Please feel free to share it liberally.