Cray fisher; missing, presumed drowned.

On 15 December 2017 after completing work on his farm Rodney Peter Green (“Rodney”) left home intending to drive to Hall Bay on the Eyre Peninsula to set cray pots to catch crayfish for Christmas. The boat Rodney was in capsized; his wife Susan Lee Green (“Susan”) has not seen or heard from him since.

Susan reported Rodney’s disappearance and presumed death to the State Coroner on 19 December 2017. Susan was informed that, as the Police investigation into Rodney’s disappearance remained open and he is listed as a missing person, the Coroner cannot determine that he is deceased.

Will

In May 2006, Rodney executed a will (“the Will”) appointing Susan executor and the sole beneficiary of his estate. r 28(1) of the Probate Rules 2015 (SA) (“the Rules”) provides that a death certificate must be lodged with every probate application to confirm death and/or date of death.

The proceedings

Under s35(1) of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 (SA), (“the Act”) the Court may, on application by an interested person or on its own initiative, order— 

(a) the registration of a death; or 

(b) the inclusion of registrable information about a death in the Register.

In South Australia r 68 of the Rules provides that an application for permission to swear to the death of any person in respect of whose estate a grant is sought may be made to the Court, supported by an affidavit setting out the grounds of that application. 

Susan’s affidavit filed in support of her application affirmed that Rodney disappeared when the boat he was in capsized in Hall Bay on 15 December 2017. Similarly, there is no evidence of anyone attempting to access Rodney’s assets, and no claim has been made against the life insurance policy in Rodney’s name.

Police Detectives have found no evidence to suggest that Rodney’s death was in any way suspicious and not as a result of the marine accident; or that Rodney did not die as a result of drowning at Hall Bay on 15 December 2017. 

Similarly, there has been no reported sighting of Rodney since 15 December 2017 and his body has not been recovered. Rodney and Susan’s sons Douglas and Tom have each filed an affidavit deposing that they assisted with the search for Rodney and that they have not seen or heard from Rodney since he disappeared on 15 December 2017. 

Decision

The Court ordered probate of the will be granted to Susan, upon making an application for a grant of probate in a form acceptable to the Registrar of Probates, the Court directed that the Registrar issue the grant.

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