end of life 1 - issue 40

Cuenca Expats Magazine, Issue 40

Life in Ecuador is wonderful! However, making health and death directives in Spanish may not be so easy for many expats living in Cuenca, Ecuador. If your spouse dies, what do you do? Or if you are single and find yourself in a hospital unable to direct someone to take care of you, what are your options in Ecuador? The required documents are similar to those “back home,” but the process is a little different here.

End-of-life directives in Ecuador are written by a lawyer and are called Minuta, which are then legalized by a notary and called The Sworn Declaration.  Attorney fees range from $200 to $300 for each person’s End of Life Plan.

First, you will need a representative to be in charge of all your directives related to health and death in Ecuador. If you are married, a spouse is the obvious person to appoint as your representative. If you are single and have no family here, you should appoint someone locally as your representative.

Anyone can be legally elected to represent you.  Next, decide how you want your end of life to happen. Do you want special measures to be taken on your behalf? Or would you rather sneak away without any machine keeping you alive? Do you want to be cremated? Buried? Cremation and burial services are offered in Cuenca, and they will also facilitate the purchase of a burial plot or a columbarium place in a cemetery for the ashes, depending on the decision of the relatives or those responsible. Cremation and burial services can be purchased at any time prior to illness or death. If you are a member of the IESS, this system offers a basic burial service free of charge. Instructions for repatriating the remains to a burial plot of choice anywhere may also be designated.

end of life - issue 40

All these elements will be specified in the Minuta. Will you need an autopsy? If the details of the death are unknown (for example, if you are found unconscious or dead in your home), an autopsy is required. If you have a family doctor, he may be called to come to your home to declare death for a minimal cost. If an autopsy is required, the family or representative is responsible for the cost. After all the decisions have been made and the lawyer has written the directives, the final step will be in a notary to legalize your Minuta as a Sworn Declaration. This legalized document is kept forever at the notary’s office, but you will be given an original signed and stamped copy of the document to be used when necessary.

And finally, depending on the decision of the relatives or person responsible the procedures can be personally carried out at the Consulate General    of the United States

of America in Guayaquil, including such things as the death report of an American citizen, processing for the expatriation of ashes to the United States or any place that the person in charge decides, and obtaining 20 legalized death  certificates from the Department of the State of the United States; or you can hire the services in Cuenca to obtain consular procedures at a reasonable cost without the need for you to move to Guayaquil and so avoid accommodation, transportation and food costs. The US State Department’s American Citizen Services (ACS) strongly recommends end-of-life planning for expats in any foreign country, should the unexpected occur.

LOGO MEMOPAZ - end of life - issue 40

Cuenca expats should consider contacting Julio Cabrera, General Manager of the funeral home MEMOPAZ (atencionalcliente@memopaz.com).

MEMOPAZ has been helping the expat community for over 20 years, and Sr. Cabrera who is also an attorney can walk you through all the steps required by Ecuadorian law (very different from the US).  MEMOPAZ has also introduced a special reduced priced funeral plan with financing just for expats.  So, you’ll have the peace of mind everything will be taken care of.