As I’ve written before, under Florida law you don’t need to actually produce a dead body to have someone declared dead. If someone’s missing for over 5 years or there’s direct or circumstantial evidence of death, under F.S. 731.103 a court can enter an order declaring that person dead.
According to an AP report entitled Son of wanted Nazi wants him declared dead, the son of notorious Nazi doctor Aribert Heim is apparently relying on a similar statute to have his father declared legally dead so he can take control of a bank account with $1.78 million and other investments in his father’s name and donate some of it to help document the suffering that occurred at a former concentration camp. Here’s an excerpt from the linked-to story:
Ruediger Heim told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that his father — dubbed “Dr. Death” and atop the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s list of most-wanted suspected Nazi war criminals — should officially be declared missing and then dead.
He reiterated he has not had any contact with his father since he fled Germany in 1962, save two short notes in his family’s mailbox.
“Between 1962 and 1967, two notes appeared in our mailbox. There was a single sentence written on them, ‘I am doing fine.’ But if those letters were really from my father, I do not know,” the paper quoted him as saying.
Heim also said that he has no idea if his father, who would be 94, is alive or dead.
He told the paper he is working with a lawyer to see how he can have his wanted father declared missing and then dead so as to get control of the man’s bank account. [Watch the video].
He said he, his brother and sister only discovered in 1997 that a bank account in his father’s name existed. If he could get control of the money, he told the newspaper he would donate to help document suffering in the Mauthausen concentration camp near Linz, Austria, where his father worked as camp doctor in October and November 1941.
So far, Heim’s children have made no claim to a bank account with $1.78 million and other investments in his name. To do that, they would have to produce proof that their father is dead.
Credit goes to the estate lawyers of Hull & Hull at the firm’s Toronto Estate Law Blog for bringing the CNN article to my attention in this blog post.