One of the most interesting people I have ever met is a client, now a friend, who I will call Max (to protect his true identity).

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Max came to retire in Costa Rica some 15 years ago. He and his wife chose a property right in front of the ocean, where they built a house, and have followed all the paperwork applying for the “concession” of the maritime mile right that, as usual is still far away from being approved.

Over the years, I have spent hours chatting with Max and laughing about his amazing stories of how he survived in the war; several the fist-fights, one of them – a very memorable one – in an Escazú Bar, and lately how he has survived in the beach coast.

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Two or three weeks ago, Max’s wife called me, very worried about him. He had been carried to the ER of the nearest hospital after an encounter with a viper. Her main worry, apart from her husband’s life, was that they did not have a will in place, and needed him to sign one … just in case. Should he pass away, their cash in the US would be impossible to reach for her.

After 3 weeks in a Social Security hospital, Max was admitted into a private clinic in San José, where they gave him the final treatment he needed to solve a life threatening blood clot problem.

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Finally he was able to come to my office, and when he walked in the first thing I notice was a black elastic bandage in his leg, from his ankle to his knee. He did not have a chance to say hello, when I laughed and told him he look exactly like a “jamón pata negra” which means a dry-cured Spanish ham, which is one of the best hams in the world, made of black hooved Iberian pigs. Max laughed, though not much.

He told me about his encounter with a “toboba chinga” snake (Porthidium ophryomegas or, the Western Slender Hog-nosed Pit Viper). He was doing some gardening work in the patio of this home, when he saw the snake and moved fast enough to avoid being bit, however, the viper’s fangs touched his leg, without breaking the skin.

He immediately washed the area with abundant soup and water, until being at ease that –he thought– it was just a scare.

No feeling anything abnormal, he went to bed that night only to wake up few hours later, with an excruciating pain in a horrendously swollen leg … A pre-condition and a wrong diagnosis made his situation life threatening, to the point of having to be in a hospital for 3 weeks.

He is fine now, he signed a will appointing his wife his heir and he no longer risks having all their assets, both here in Costa Rica and in the US, caught up in a legal limbo for several years

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However, his nickname “patanegra” will be a bitter sweet reminder of how close his wife and daughter (who lives in the US) were to a terrible financial and legal situation due to the lack of a will, had he not survived.

And you, do you have a will in place? do you know how do you want your inheritance to be handled for your hard earned assets? Do you know how a will can be stipulated to cover your property in Costa Rica or abroad?

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