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By: Madison Ashley
Legal Intern, SILMEXICO
A Bridgewater State University student, Legal Intern, and currently a member of the Research Center of SIL MEXICO.

What is patrimony?

Patrimony is all the things bought and owned in a person’s life. It is a collection of all possessions. Patrimony can be in the form of real estate, vehicles, clothing, jewelry, and several others. When a person dies, their possessions need to be determined who or where they will go. This is a succession that can either be determined by a will or a person deemed close to the deceased. There are ways to protect patrimony and allocate the possessions accordingly. For example, wills are the best way to detail where all belongings will go upon the death of the owner. This way, the possessions are not up for debate, and it makes the probate process faster.

Breakdown of inheritance

Inheritance is decided by a specific principle. The relative that is deemed the ‘closest’ is first in line to the inheritance. There are numerous examples of exceptions: 

    • “Where there are surviving children of the deceased but no surviving spouse: the estate is divided among the children in equal portions.
    • Where the deceased has a surviving spouse and surviving siblings: two-thirds of the estate is received by the surviving spouse, and the other third is divided in equal parts among the siblings. 
    • Where the deceased has surviving siblings only: the siblings inherit in equal portions.
    • No closer relatives survive: the closest relatives up to the fourth grade inherit in equal portions.” (Pavon, 2017) 

This is another example of why wills are helpful. If the breakdown of inheritance is specified in the will, the wishes of the deceased can be honored, instead of acted upon what is standard. 

What happens if I die, and I don’t have a protected vehicle? And if I do?

When you die, any non-land assets will be passed through an estate. This procession goes through the same process as any other patrimony. Additionally, if the car is unprotected or has a loan, it will become part of the estate of the deceased. The assets from the patrimony can be used to pay off the debt of the loan as well.

What is the best option?

The best option for foreigners who own property in Mexico, or have other assets in Mexico, is to create a Mexican will. Even though they could be a resident of another country, having a will for the assets per country will save lots of time and money. Without a Mexican will, the foreign will is going to have to go through a double-probate process. This is really expensive and can take years for Mexico to recognize. Instead, the better option is to have a Mexican will that handles Mexican assets, to avoid double probate expenses.  

To obtain a Mexican will there are three steps. First, an official court-approved translator must translate the will into Spanish. It also must be apostilled in the country where it is. Lastly, since Mexico does not have survivor rights, the surviving spouse might not automatically inherit the property. Therefore, it is important to outline specificities accurately (Pavon, 2017). Another important piece of information is that “property held through a bank trust is not included or referred to in a will made in Mexico. For other property including real estate that is not held within a bank trust, a Mexican will identifies the beneficiaries and specific legatees and appoints an executor who administers the property until it is transferred to the heirs and assist the notary with the process.” (Pavon, 2017). 

Overall, the best option is to obtain a Mexican will for any assets in Mexico.


Pavon, M. (2017, September 14). Who Will Inherit Your Property in Mexico? MEXLAW.

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