Following an application made by Lord Lucan’s son, George Bingham, the High Court ruled on Wednesday 3 February 2016 that a death certificate be issued for Lord Lucan following his disappearance under controversial circumstances in 1974.

The High Court’s power to issue the death certificate derives under the Presumption of Death Act 2013, a relatively new piece of legislation enacted on 26 March 2013 and which came into full force on 1 October 2014.

Lord Lucan was previously declared dead in 1999 by the High Court when his family was provided a grant of probate confirming the legal authority for the executors of Lord Lucan’s estate to act in the administration of the same. While the grant of probate enabled Lord Lucan’s estate to be dealt in accordance with his will, no death certificate was issued and accordingly, the 1999 declaration of the High Court did not allow for Lord Bingham to inherit the family title of 8th Earl of Lucan.

As such, George Bingham an sought to have a death certificate issued for Lord Lucan through the Courts in order to be in a positon whereby the earldom could pass to George Bingham, who on 3 February 2015 inherited his father’s title and became the 8th Earl of Lucan.

As highlighted in the case of Lord Lucan’s estate, it is possible for a grant of probate to be issued without a death certificate. In practice, it is is rare that a death certificate will actually be required in order to administer an individual’s estate.

This highlights that although circumstances around the death of an individual cannot in every case be confirmed and as such, a death certificate cannot be issued, it is imperative that an individual’s estate be acted upon as soon as possible.

Ison Harrison’s head of probate Dominic Mackenzie said, “We occasionally do have to deal with estates where, for whatever reason, a death certificate may not be available. This does not normally cause a problem but relatives or executors should contact us so that we can advise them in such circumstances”.

If you require any advice in relation to the administration of an estate contact Ison Harrison Solicitors.

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