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Searching information about disappearance laws in 1850

Discussion in 'Other Family Law Matters' started by Vero, Aug 24, 2019.

  1. Vero

    Vero Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hello everyone,

    I am new here, I am from Spain and I am searching information about disappearance laws in United States in 1850 for a university project. I'm looking specifically when a missing person was considered deceased in 1850 (time lapse for example: Five years...seven years). It doesn't have to be exactly 1850, it can be the first half of the 19th century.

    Thanks to all people that who read this message and sorry if this is not the appropriate site for this question and for my english.

    Regards
     
  2. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    The information you are seeking would vary from one location to the next, city to city or state to state. There won't be any one clear answer. If you choose a specific location perhaps you could focus your research.
     
  3. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Active Member

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    An interesting quest. The problem though is that in the U.S. such laws are done at the state level (e.g. Pennsylvania, Virginia. Georgia, etc) not at the federal (national level). Also, during the 1800s the U.S. continually added more and more states, so the time period matters in part because it will affect which states you have to choose from.

    Without narrowing it down to a specific state you'll have to look at all the states that were in the Union at the time you select. So you'll want to be more specific in your choice of state.
     
  4. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    ========================================

    The U.S. Constitution provides that all powers not expressly or implicitly assigned to the federal state are reserved to the 50 unitary states. The declaration of a missing person as legally dead thus falls under state jurisdiction unless there is a reason for the federal government to have jurisdiction (e.g. the party was military personnel who went missing while on active duty). Otherwise, there are 57 U.S. jurisdictions that comprise the United States, each of which has its own law on the question.

    People who disappear are typically called missing, or sometimes absent. Several criteria are evaluated to determine whether a person may be declared legally dead:

    The party normally must have been missing from their home or usual residence for an extended period of time, most commonly seven years
    Their absence must have been continuous and inexplicable (e.g. the person did not say they had found a new job and were moving far away)
    There must have been no communication from the party with those people most likely to hear from them during the period the person has been missing
    There must have been a diligent but unsuccessful search for the person and/or diligent but unsuccessful inquiry into their whereabouts.

    Declared death in absentia - Wikipedia

    ========================================

    According to Edgar Sentell, a retired senior vice-president and general counsel of Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company, almost all states recognize the presumption of death, by statute or judicial recognition of the common law rule.

    Some states have amended their statutes to reduce the seven-year period to five consecutive years missing, and some, such as Minnesota and Georgia, have reduced the period to four years.

    If someone disappears, those interested can file a petition to have them declared legally dead. They must prove by the criteria above that the person is in fact dead. There are constitutional limitations to these procedures: The presumption must arise only after a reasonable amount of time has elapsed. The absent person must be notified. Courts permit notifying claimants by publication. Adequate safeguards concerning property provisions must be made in the case that an absent person shows up.

    A person can be declared legally dead after they are exposed to "imminent peril" and fail to return—as in a plane crash, as portrayed in the movie Cast Away.

    In these cases courts generally assume the person was killed, even though the usual waiting time to declare someone dead has not elapsed.

    Sentell also says, "The element of peril accelerates the presumption of death." This rule was enacted after the attack on the World Trade Center, so that authorities could release death certificates.

    Although people presumed dead sometimes turn up alive, it is not as common as it used to be.

    In one case where this occurred, a man named John Burney disappeared in 1976 while having financial problems, and later reappeared in December 1982.

    His company and wife had already received the death benefits—so, on returning, the life insurance company sued him, his wife, and his company.

    In the end, the court ruled Burney's actions fraudulent.
     
  5. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    In another case, James Douglas Pou, an Air Force deserter, convincingly faked his own death in New Mexico in 1987 and led a secret life in San Diego for 5 years.

    Bigamist, Deserter Escapes From Air Force Brig : Military: James Douglas Pou, awaiting court-martial on bank robbery charges, had warned officials he could 'just walk out.' He staged his own death in 1987.

    Made into a TV movie: The Lies He Told.
     
  6. Vero

    Vero Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hello,

    Thank you very much everyone for the responses, now I have a more clear idea about how to route my searching :).

    Regards
     
    Red Kayak likes this.
  7. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    In 1850, the United States had 31 states, and it's likely that each of them had different laws about this (if, in fact, all of them had laws about this subject, which I wouldn't assume).

    You didn't ask a question.

    If the intended question was whether anyone here knows about these sorts of laws from 1850, the answer is almost certainly no. Researching current laws on this issue would probably take several hours. Trying to figure out the laws nearly 175 years ago will be exhaustive. If I had a need to research this, I might try finding a law student to pay to do the research. Otherwise, I think you're going to have to spend some time at a large law library.
     
    Zigner likes this.

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