A husband, wife, or even a partner, suddenly disappears from civilization without a trace. Despite volunteers and police investigations, there are no developments and the body cannot be found.
After a disappearance, loved ones go through a lot of anguish, sadness and grief, but also financial and legal implications of this unfortunate event.
If a loved one quite suddenly goes missing to never be seen again, what are the consequences to his immediate family that is left behind?
How will the life insurance be handled? Will you keep paying for the premiums or not? Will you receive the amount of insurance?
A very sad incident was featured on June 2, 2018, by le Quotidien which shows just how difficult life can be sometimes.
What are your rights in case of a disappearance of a family member?
Continue reading to learn more.
Let’s look at the example of Cedric Gouillart, male, 48 years old, who was missing for 2 long weeks. A close friend of Cedric Gouillart launched a fund-raising campaign. As a good friend, she witnessed the extreme distress of the spouse of the missing Mr. Gouillart and decided to do what she could to help out.
She wanted to help her friend who was overcome with anguish regarding her missing husband and still needed to keep up with the bills and take care of the family and the mortgage.
For in the case of a disappearance, the spouse or partner must take responsibility for the bills and their payments.
The insurance benefits cannot be collected since there is no proof of death. As far as the insurance company is concerned, Cedric Gouillart is alive. Even the disability insurance is unattainable and the premiums remain in force since the missing person is considered to be simply absent.
The spouse cannot sell her husbands possessions since these constitute part of his estate.
The wife sought the help of a lawyer but it was unsuccessful because nothing could be done.
Cedric Gouillart’s wife said she had no more options open to her. The law protects the missing, but not the families left behind. Families cannot grieve properly because they need to worry about the bills. She further stated that the insurance policy they had taken out and paid for many years ago cannot help because the law is vague in the case of a disappearance. She says there is an enormous void regarding this. She finds herself in a desperate situation and that she and her husband had planned things to ensure that everything is in order in case one of them dies to avoid financial problems.
The couple has 3 life insurance policies. Unfortunately, for a disappearance, they are really useless. She thought she could sell the camper or their vehicle, but she discovered she could not since they were under the name of the husband as the owner. She cannot dispose of them until such time that he is declared dead. In short, the assets of a missing person are protected, but the family must suffer and lose everything. She knows that is probably what will happen. After having worked hard all her life to gain material possessions, she does not want to lose them all. She cries for help and continues to work without benefitting from salary insurance if she cannot go to work. Moreover, with everything that is going on, she is not in the best condition to work.
She has accepted the fact that, after missing for 2 weeks, her husband is probably dead and may never be seen again. She and her daughters have lost hope. The investigators have also given them little hope. When the search stops and no new leads surface, all that remains is trying to find the means to lead the family to survive. The spouse of Cedric Gouillart finds it difficult to sleep, feeling all alone and hopeless.
Soon, the spouse and the family will need to get together to consult a notary.
A conservator will be appointed by the family council to administer the affairs of the missing person.
Even with the appointment of the conservator for the missing person, it still doesn’t change the fact that according to the law, the estate of a missing person cannot be liquidated for a period of 12 months.
In all cases, the court needs to approve all decisions, further incurring expenses.
WAITING PERIOD AFTER A DISAPPEARANCE
FOR LIFE INSURANCE IN QUEBEC
Unless the death is established within this time, the provincial government stipulates that an individual is alive for 7 years from the time of the disappearance.
An individual living in Quebec in his home who fails to appear anywhere without communicating with someone or without anyone knowing his whereabouts is considered a missing person.
There are other circumstances related to a disappearance. A person can be declared dead before the waiting period of 7 years has passed. The Directeur de l’état civil, under certain conditions, issue a death certificate.
The conservator of the missing person, married in a civil union or in a common partnership, after only 1 year after a disappearance, can request before the court for permission to sell the family assets or to end the union.
Some extraordinary cases happen when the insured person disappears and it is impossible to locate him. One may think of amnesia, a runaway, a ship capsizing, a plane crash, an abduction: all these scenarios are earthshaking, more so because there is no confirmation of the death of the insured. What happens to the face amount in life insurance?
A judge officially declares the death of an insured, for example, in the case of a plane crash, if the authorities issue a death certificate. The insurer must then pay the compensation as set forth in the insurance contract to the designated beneficiaries.
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