When a loved one goes missing in Tennessee, you likely spend a large amount of time trying to find him or her. However, some missing people are never found. While the person is still technically alive, his or her estate remains in limbo. You cannot distribute assets, pay off debts or close out accounts because the person still has legal authority over those things. In a situation where a person is missing for too long, the law does stop in and allow for the legal declaration of that person’s death. According to the Gallatin News, this is the presumption of death.

Presumption of death allows for the court to declare someone as dead if he or she has been missing for at least seven years. You do not need evidence of a death. You only need to file a petition with the court requesting the declaration. This petition also allows you to request to be the person’s personal representative for estate matters.

The only requirements are that the person has been missing for at least seven years and that he or she has not been heard from in that time. The court will look over the case to determine if a declaration of death makes sense based on evidence of the disappearance. In many cases, the court will grant the request. However, it does reserve the right to refuse it if the court believes there is evidence showing the person may still be alive. This information is for education only, and it is not legal advice.