By Lannette Phipps (2012)

I wrote this article because a number of residents of Mexico and Rocky Point are retirees who may face the death of a loved one someday and need to think about these things in advance, and be more prepared than I was. It’s not pleasant, but it needs to be done and if done ahead of time, it saves a big headache and possibly a lot of confusion.

If your loved one is ill, or at the final stages of his or her life, I would suggest the following…please keep in mind I am no expert, and rules and processes may vary in other cities, but this will give you somewhere to start to be more prepared.

1. Make sure you have a local doctor who is familiar with your medical condition and make sure that he or she has a 24-hour phone number where they can be reached.

2. Find out the cost for burial and cremation by visiting the funeral home (there are two in Rocky Point) and asking. You can purchase a burial plot locally – the funeral home will guide you through this.

3. If you need to make a report to the Ministerio Publico about an imminent death, please take someone who is fluent in English and Spanish unless you are. Even if you think your Spanish is good enough, I urge you to have someone by your side so there is no miscommunication. And make sure that you have a note from the doctor, on their letterhead or prescription pad that states the condition of the ill person and that is the wish of the dying person to pass at their home in Mexico and not at a hospital or facility of any kind.

4. If your loved one is to be buried in the U.S. or some other country, inform your doctor and the funeral home and ask about the expense of transportation. If transportation or airfare is required to get your loved one home, find out in advance what the procedure is in the U.S. Same with cremation. Some insurances and VA’s offer this service.

5. Have a conversation with your doctor about what will take place once your loved one passes. Find out what your role is and what the doctor can take care of.

6. Never, ever transport a deceased person in your personal vehicle anywhere in Mexico. Bodies must be transported in authorized and licensed vehicles.

7. Make sure you have all personal information in one place, such as place of birth, date of birth, mother and father and their maiden names, retired date – anything you can think of that may help ease the process of the paperwork.

8. Make sure that you have a legal Will and that everything is spelled out clearly if property or assets are in one name only.

These steps should save you a lot of grief if you are caring for someone that is terminally ill, and wishes to die at home in Mexico. The process is a little more complicated for foreigners living in Mexico, but if you are prepared in advance there should be no problems…or maybe just a few tiny snags. I have no experience with a sudden death, but I would follow step No. 1 and speak with your doctor and find out what happens if your loved one has an unexpected death. Definitely not a fun subject, but if you are a foreigner living in Rocky Point, you don’t have to fear what will happen when you or a loved one dies.