Mexican Living Wills, a new option in Yucatán
For years, clients have approached us requesting a Mexican Living Will, either as a part of their existing will or as a separate document, and in all honesty we didn’t know exactly what they were talking about.
At first, it took a great deal of research and asking around to understand exactly what they were requesting, just to confirm what we originally thought: “It can’t be done.” Mexican living wills simply didn’t exist
At the time, that was true. Back then, nothing similar existed under state or national law, and there was no indication that a document like a Living Will would ever be a reality in Mexico.
We used to recommend that clients state their desires in a handwritten document and appoint a proxy, through a power of attorney, who would carry out the person’s wishes. But that proxy wouldn’t have enough authority to contradict the direct family: Parents, spouse, daughters, sons etc., who legally and at the end of the day are the ones who would be in charge during a client’s final moments, regardless of their wishes.
That changed in 2016 after that discussion was brought to the table in the state legislature: What are the rights of an ill person in their final hours? How can we make sure they can go with dignity? And ultimately, what does it mean to die with dignity and humanity?
All the answers came in the form of a law published in the official gazette on June 18, 2016, called “Ley de Voluntad Anticipada (Law of Anticipated Will).” Finally, our own version of the Living Will.
In it, the state recognizes the right of the person to express their desires regarding medical treatment when they are no longer able to express themselves. Ultimately, the Mexican Living Will tells us how they wish to leave this world.
The law recognizes and defends two major points: Death with dignity and the right to choose how we die.
It states in its first clauses: “A death without dignity is the one that extends, without any mercy, life by artificial means, where the life slowly goes away and the physical body is the one receiving attention (by being biological) but not the human being. The human person has the right to have his/her own life at his/her disposition, in special situations, simply out of respect for human dignity. We recognize that the possibility to decide what to do with our own life is a sign of respect for the very human side of it, our freedom and our own life.”
This law opens a huge door of possibilities to the people. The only problem is that nobody gave the law proper publicity and most people don’t know it exists; in fact, many notaries still don’t know it exists or how to make a Living Will. Mainly because it is not in our culture, but also for religious reasons.
The process is quite simple: You have to request a Mexican Living Will (Declaración de Voluntad Anticipada) before a notary public.
You must provide:
- Your name and general information.
- The name of the person(s) who will be the executor(s) and their general information. They will be the ones who make sure the desires expressed in the Living Will are respected and who will make all the decisions in situations not anticipated in the Living Will. Needless to say, it is very important to choose the right executor; he or she won’t be able to do anything contrary to what it is established in the Living Will BUT they can do something against your final wishes if that specific situation is not specified in the document.
- The name of the person(s) that CAN’T make any decisions regarding your health or life. This part was created especially for the persons who due to a blood relationship (spouse, parents, son or daughter, etc) would otherwise have rights in the decision-making process. This document supersedes those rights and the mention of their names in this clause makes it even clearer.
- A detailed description of your desires in health care, palliative care, artificial life support, etc. It could be as general or as detailed as desired. All the scenarios that are not included will be decide by the executor(s).
The document is signed in front of the notary public in the presence of two witnesses, inscribed in the notary’s archives and recorded with the Secretary of Health. After that, a hard copy will be given to you.
It is important that the copy is well-secured as it needs to be presented to the hospital, health institution or authority at the moment the person enters the institution, so from the very beginning, and especially at the end, they know who to approach for decisions.
Easy Legal Mexico is proud to be one of the few who are offering and using this relatively new option to provide our clients a very important service: A right to choose. Contact us for more information, we will be happy to assist you and address your questions and concerns.