Tomb Raider – Missing and Presumed Dead



The remake of the beloved action movie series, Tomb Raider, delivered a great mix of action, myth and suspense while interweaving some pretty advanced Estate Planning concepts that we deal with every day.  Playing in theaters worldwide, the film begins with Lara Croft, played by Alicia Vikander, struggling with her father’s absence and possible death.  Lara’s life, like many of today’s youth, seemed to lack a clear direction until she was put in a board room to review her father’s Last Will and Testament and was made to come to grips with his death.

This brings up an interesting question: When someone goes missing, how long is it until he/she is presumed dead? The Connecticut General Statutes Sec., 45a-446 gives us some indication as to how a Connecticut Court would handle the situation.

Sec. 45a-446. Distribution when heir, legatee or distributee is presumed to be dead. Liability of fiduciary. (a) If, at any hearing before a court of probate on an application for an order for the distribution of the estate or for the payment of legacies provided for in the will of a deceased person whose estate is in process of settlement in the court, it is found by the court that any person who if living would be an heir at law of such decedent, or a legatee or distributee under such will, has been absent from his home and unheard of for a period of seven years or more next prior to the date of the death of the decedent and until the date of such hearing, the court shall find as a presumptive fact that such person died prior to the death of the decedent whose estate is in settlement, and shall order such distribution of the estate or payment of such legacies as would have been made if such person was known to have died prior to the death of the decedent whose estate is in settlement.

In Connecticut, Lara would have had to wait 7 years to file in probate to close her father’s estate.  At that point, assuming no one had heard from him, there would be a presumption that he is deceased. In the case of Tomb Raider, there ended up being more to Lara’s father’s situation than meets the eye. Let’s just say there is a bittersweet reunion in the movie, and Lara has her father’s Last Will and Testament to thank for that.

Estate Planning plays a big role, especially in the lives of the loved ones left behind.

If you think your loved one has gone missing, or if you are struggling with any situation or following the death of a close family member, contact Wiley Etter, LLC, and we will help you navigate through this tricky process.

(Read about how a proper Guardian Angel Trust can be designed to motivate your heirs to become accomplished adults in our next post.)