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Can a will/trust be successfully challenged from Mexico if it was drawn up in California?

Los Angeles, CA |

Father was a USA citizen. He retired to Mexico and lived there for about 15 years. He had a will/trust drawn up in California where he owned quite a bit of real estate. He also owned quite a few properties in Mexico. He passed away in California. If the will/trust are not "favorable" to my brother and myself (we live in the United States), can it be successfully challenged from Mexico? He was a resident there and does not have a Mexican will or trust.

If you need more info let me know.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. The simple fact that a will and trust are not "favorable" to you and your brother will not be grounds for successfully challenging these documents. You will need to prove that your father:

    a) lacked testamentary capacity at the time that he executed these documents; and/or
    b) was under undue influence when he signed the documents.

    Please retain an experienced probate litigator who can review this situation and determine whether you have any grounds for challenging your father's estate planning documents. Good luck to you.

    This information is presented as a public service. It should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor considered to be the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. I am licensed in Connecticut and New York and my answers are based upon the law in those jurisdictions. My answer to any specific question would likely be different if I were to review a client's file and have the opportunity to interview the client. Accordingly, I strongly urge you to retain an attorney in your jurisdiction with respect to any legal matter.


  2. You would have to consult with an attorney in Mexico, but with respect to the California property, the court will not be compelled to follow a ruling by the Mexico court. In addition, it is doubtful even if you could get into a Mexico court that they would want to get involved in this matter.

    The general advice above does not constitute an attorney-client relationship: you haven't hired me or my firm or given me confidential information by posting on this public forum, and my answer on this public forum does not constitute attorney-client advice. IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: In order to comply with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. While I am licensed to practice in New York and California, I do not actively practice in New York. Regardless, nothing said should be deemed an opinion of law of any state. All readers need to do their own research or pay an attorney for a legal opinion if one is necessary or desired.


  3. You need a Mexican lawyer to answer a question like that. But a will of a non-resident decedent can be probated in American courts under certain circumstances which will be stated in state laws, and if it can be probated here then perhaps it can be challenged here as well, depending on the laws of the jurisdiction.

    Ownership of Mexican land situate within a certain distance of a coast or border, by foreigners, is limited by the Mexican constitution; but in those regions I am told that it maybe owned by US citizens via a trust format known as the fideicomismo, which involves a bank typically acting as trustee and owner of record for the American's beneficial interest. Whether or not such trusts can have a testamentary element I do not know, but that would probably be something you should ask if you are hiring advice in Mexico.

    No legal representation exists by virtue of this answer. Consult your attorney. Licensed to practice law in Indiana and Illinois. Circular 230 Disclosure: any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code, or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any matters addressed herein.

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