How do you prove missing man is dead?

This is a bit of a Catch 22. In Edmonton, Alberta a judge has ruled that Robyn Comey has not proved that her husband, Mark Comey, is dead. Until she proves he is dead she cannot settle his estate or collect on a $2 million life insurance policy.

Mark Comey was last seen on October 25, 2008 on a beach in Mexico. He disappeared from the Royal Playacar Hideaway Occidental Resort and has not been seen or heard of since.

The Mexican Attorney General's office has determined that Mark Comey has drowned and they are no longer attempting to locate him. Mexico does not issue death certificates in absentia. Robyn Comey has to apply for a death certificate in Canada.

The insurer, Manulife has stated it is unable to complete its ‘contestable review’ of Mark’s life insurance policy because it has not yet received complete business, financial and medical records.

Justice Denny Thomas’ judgment says: "This is a decision on an application by Robyn Comey (“Robyn”) for a declaration of death under Rule 94 of the Surrogate Rules, Alta. Reg. 103/95 (the “Rules”) in respect to her husband, Mark James Comey (“Mark”) who was last seen on October 25, 2008 on a beach in Mexico. The Applicant advises that the declaration is necessary for the family to obtain closure, resolve Mark’s estate and obtain benefits under a $2,000,000.00 life insurance policy with The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company (“Manulife”). Manulife opposes the application and argues that this Court lacks jurisdiction to grant the relief requested on the ground that where a life insurance policy is involved then ss. 592 and 593 of the Insurance Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. I-3 (the “Act”), provides the procedure for the seeking of a declaration of death. Manulife argues the preconditions for s. 592 of the Act have not yet been met, and that the application is premature."

Though Manulife does not explicitly allege fraud in the present matter, Mark Comey's disappearance remains under investigation by Interpol and the RCMP.

The bottom line is that Robyn Comey still has to prove Mark Comey is dead, but as well the insurance company has to continue investigating his disappearance or death.