Like most in Miami, you might assume that estate matters deal only with the disbursement of property and assets in accordance to one’s wishes. Typically, those wishes are honored after one has died. Yet, as crazy as it may seem, we at The Law Offices of Frye and Vazquez, P.L. can attest to the fact that part of dealing with an estate is actually proving that a testator is dead. You may consider this to be a simple matter, yet as is the case with any aspect of probate and estate administration, the potential for complications exists.
According to the Florida Probate Code, presenting a copy of your loved one’s death certificate is sufficient to verify his or her death. If you have a family member who is presumed dead (like one lost in an area where finding his or her person or remains is unlikely), a record stating that presumption created by a government agency is enough to officially list him or her as being dead.
However, what if you have a family member or friend who simply abandoned his or her life for no explicable reason and has not been seen since? In such cases, he or she must have been missing for a continuous period of more than five years before the issue of declaring him or her dead can be approached. The only exceptions to this would be if it was known that he or she was subjected to a specific peril of death, or if you have other evidence suggesting that he or she has died. If this is the case, you must initiate the petition to declare death in the same county where he or she resided.
More information on this and other issues involving estate administration can be found on our site.