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It might depend on the state or country you live in. I think in California (U.S.), it is seven years. * In the US the rule of common law applies. After 7 years from the date of the last known contact with the individual, persons who have just cause can file a petition in state court to have the missing individual declared "legally dead." The court will require that evidence be submitted to prove that an earnest attempt was made to discover the whereabouts of the missing person. Such evidence would be a search of public records, statements from relatives, friends, co-workers, police reports, etc. If the individual disappeared under unusual circumstances, for example after a threat was made upon their life, then the process becomes even more complicated, especially when it relates to life insurance benefits and other financial matters. The decision, as in the majority of civil matters will be determined by the court according to the laws of the state in which the missing individual resided.

2006-08-23 12:51:38
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