In Nevada we have a statute which provides for the probate of a person who has been missing for a period of time. According to NRS 156.120 if any person owning property in this State has been absent from his or her last known place of residence for a continuous period of 3 years, with his or her whereabouts for that period unknown to the persons most likely to know thereof, he or she shall be deemed to be a missing person, and all property of the person in this State may be administered, as though he or she were deceased.
A case recently surfaced about an insurance company that refused to recognize that the Insured had died and they would not pay out the policy proceeds. The Florida Times-Union recently reported about a United States citizen who was traveling in Venezuela when he reported to have died and was subsequently cremated. The (alleged) Decedent owned a furniture business which was heavily in debt. He also owned a $2.5 million life insurance policy which he had pledged as collateral for a loan. Upon his purported death, the Lender attempted to collect on the policy but the Insurance Company refused, claiming the Insured is still alive!
Sounds like something out of a mystery novel. In Nevada, the Estate must wait one year after it is opened to determine if anyone files a petition claiming they are the missing person. If not, a conclusive (irrebuttable) presumption arises that the person is dead and the Court will order the distribution of the estate. In other words, if the Lender in the above scenario waited 4 years in Nevada, a Las Vegas probate attorney would likely be able to establish the Insured is legally deceased and obtain an Order that the Insurance Company must pay on the policy.
Drizin Law is providing this information for educational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion as to any specific facts or circumstances. This information is based on general principles of Nevada law at the time it was created and you should be aware laws frequently change. Moreover, the laws affecting you may differ depending on the circumstances. You should consult with a qualified attorney in your own state or jurisdiction concerning your particular situation. Review of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.