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It is over 40 years since Richard John Bingham, known to millions as Lord Lucan, went missing without a trace in extremely controversial circumstances. In 1974 the family nanny was found murdered in the basement of the Lucan household, where Lord Lucan’s separated wife was also attacked. Since that day in November the whereabouts of Lord Lucan has remained a huge mystery.

Despite this film-like story line, this has very much been a real ordeal for his family who have not been able to get closure for almost 41 years. There have been no substantiated sightings of the Lord and although he is presumed dead, no body has ever been found.

It is hard to comprehend how difficult this situation must be for the family involved who believe their loved one has died, but there is no proof to back this up. This is perhaps more common than you think. In the UK, around 30-40 families lose a family member in mysterious circumstances every year, but are unable to prove they have died.

This alone is a horrendous position to be in, but it is exacerbated when the family is unable to administer the estate because it hasn’t been proved that the missing person has passed away. If the family has been financially dependent or supported by the missing member, it could cause all sorts of untold hardship for the grieving family.

Lord Lucan was officially declared dead in 1999, but it had technically not proved death “for all purposes” leaving the process for the family still incomplete.

The Presumption of Death Act 2013

Families can now apply for a ‘Certificate of Presumed Death’, which in effect acts as a death certificate, allowing an estate to be administered. This greatly improves a families’ position as previously they would have to wait for seven years before probate could be dealt with, with all the finances of the presumed deceased locked up, unable to be touched by the family.

The Act also helps in other technical ways. Previously, a marriage or civil partnership could only be dissolved by making a separate application; however now the new Act means the dissolution of a relationship can be made in the same document helping to ease the burden on you.

Gorvins Solicitors standing out from the unaware legal crowd

The new legislation only came into effect in October 2014 and there is a shortage of solicitors who have familiarised themselves with the new rules meaning there is a grey area of confusion out there. There are some solicitors who don’t know the new Act exists, meaning they may be handing out the wrong legal advice.

However our experienced lawyers in the Wills, Trusts and Probate team at Gorvins have done their homework, are familiar with the new Act and are in the perfect position to help.

Our understanding solicitors are well aware of the double edged sword scenario that is likely to be pulling at your conscience. This new law can genuinely help to resolve the affairs of a loved one, but deciding to apply for the Certificate of Presumed Death is a highly emotional and overwhelming decision.

The Act doesn’t help with the emotional distress of the situation but it does help to obtain closure in a simpler, more complete way. There have been some occasions where a family have had to manage their application on their own because a solicitors firm they have contact are either not aware of the new law or not familiar with process.

Gorvins can provide you with the legal assistance you need to apply for a Certificate of Presumed Death. If you are going through a traumatic time in dealing with the affairs of a missing family member, contact us so we can try and make the process that little easier. Phone us on 0343 507 5151 to speak to an experienced solicitor or email us: enquiries@gorvins.com.