Everyone is familiar with the story of Lord Lucan – he vanished after the family nanny was found dead at his family home in London in 1974. There have been various theories about what happened to him over the years, with many people believing that he killed himself shortly afterwards. However, from a legal point of view he was still considered to be alive.
But now the son of Lord Lucan, George Bingham, has finally been given permission to obtain a death certificate for him, some 42 years after he vanished. This means that he also inherits the family title. So, why has it taken so long and why has he finally been allowed to do so?
Until 1 October 2014, when the Presumption of Death Act 2013 came into force, it could be extremely difficult and sometimes impossible to obtain a death certificate if a body has not been found. This could cause difficulties for families when trying to deal with the missing person’s assets.
However, since the change in the law the Court can declare that someone is “presumed dead” where they have been missing for at least 7 years. This is binding for all purposes and means that any marriage or civil partnership will be dissolved and that the presumed deceased’s assets can be dealt with.
Under the new Act, the Court has the power to:
- Make a declaration of presumed death;
- Make an order varying or revoking a declaration of presumed death;
- Determine questions relating to interests in property and to make orders in relation to interests in property; and
- Require a person who is not a party to the proceedings to provide further information.
So, whilst we will probably never find out what actually happened to the (presumed) late Lord, at least his family, and others in similar circumstances, can move forward and deal with the administrative aspects of losing someone close to them.
If you wish to discuss this with a solicitor at Berwins please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01423 543102.
Written by Julie Hutchinson at Berwins Solicitors.