A couple of years ago we had a case where the deceased went “missing at sea”. His wife had to make a claim for a declaration of presumed death. Although he had not been missing for more than 7 years it was clear that he had died and that he went missing following a boating accident. But a missing person is not automatically presumed dead. You must make a claim for declaration of presumed death if you want to deal with the estate.
You can make a claim if you are the missing person’s spouse, parent, child or brother or sister, or a civil partner.
If you do not fall into one of these categories, for example, you are a more distant relative then you will need to prove to the court that you have enough of a connection to entitle you to seek a declaration.
One or more of the following must also apply:-
- You are the missing person’s spouse or civil partner and you are domiciled in England and Wales.
- You are the missing person’s spouse or civil partner and you have been living in England and Wales for the entire year before the date you make the claim.
- The missing person treated England or Wales as their permanent home (“domiciled”) on the date they were last known to be alive.
- The missing person was living in England or Wales for the whole year before the date they were last known to be alive.
It costs over £500 in court fees to get a declaration of presumed death.