Lord Lucan: Son makes High Court bid to have father declared dead after 40 years

Year Published: 2015

The son (George Bingham) and heir of Lord Lucan, the British peer who has been missing since 1974, is making a new High Court bid for his father to be declared ‘presumed dead’. If accepted this could lead to the issuing of a death certificate and Bingham inheriting the title.

Helen Kelly, Partner and Head of Trusts at SAS Daniels Stockport

Helen Kelly, Partner

Mr Bingham’s father, whose full name was Lord Richard John Bingham, the 7th Earl of Lucan, sensationally vanished without trace following the murder of his three children’s nanny Sandra Rivett, who died after being bludgeoned with a lead pipe in the basement of the Lucan family home in Belgravia.

The case has remained a cause of public fascination ever since, and the subject of numerous books, television dramas and films.

Lord Lucan, who if still alive would be in his 80s, was last seen soon after Ms Rivett’s death at a friend’s house in Uckfield, Surrey. Thereafter, he was never seen again and no body has ever been found.

He was declared dead in 1992 for the purposes of probate and the distribution of his estate.

However, due to England’s law at the time regarding presumption of death, no death certificate was issued and other matters remained unresolved – in particular the succession of the title. The coming into force of the Presumption of Death Act 2013 in October 2014 has eased the process of obtaining a presumption of death certificate for wider purposes. Lucan’s son now wishes to succeed to the full title in preparation for his marriage.

Bingham, who lives in central London, has placed a notice in the West End Extra local newspaper announcing his intention to apply to the England & Wales High Court for a presumption of death certificate. This gives members of the public 21 days to notify the court of any objections. Lucan’s case serves to highlight the Presumption of Death legislation, which was introduced last year to reduce the legal and financial burden on the families of long-term missing people. The charity Missing People is currently working to ensure that more families, legal and accounting professionals are aware of the legislation.

For more information on presumption of death or anything other matters, please contact Helen Kelly in the Trusts team on 0161 475 7685.

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