Washington Law Review


Kenneth Cox


The doctrine that seven years' unexplained absence from home will raise a presumption that the missing person is dead has proved a troublesome one to apply in the insurance cases in which, modernly, it is chiefly called into play. As long as it is merely employed to establish the death of a missing spouse, in order to allow remarriage by the survivor, or in order to permit the distribution of the missing person's estate, or in many of the other situations where it is relied upon to establish the fact of death, the courts have little difficulty with the presumption. But when it is used to establish the death of an insured person in order to entitle the beneficiary to the proceeds from the policy of insurance, complications soon appear. The Statute of Limitations (which in many states is shorter than the period necessary for the presumption of death) raises perplexing problems as to the proper time for suit, and the same is true as to the effect of nonpayment of premiums during the period of absence.

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