If you saw The Dark Knight Rises, you know that at the end of the movie... [SPOILERS FOLLOW]
Bruce Wayne is declared legally dead, despite there not being any body. Law and the Multiverse tackles the thorny question of having someone declared dead, in a guest-post by
James Daily Mike Lee:
As is Law and the Multiverse’s convention for Gotham, let’s look at New York law.
By statute, New York has reduced the common law’s seven-year period of required continuous absence to three years. N.Y. Est. Powers & Trusts Law § 2-1.7, available at http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/nycode/EPT/2/1/2-1.7. Alternatively, the statute establishes that exposure “to a specific peril of death” might suffice to establish death in absentia, even if the three-year statutory period has not yet run. Id. at § 2-1.7(b).
New York’s three-year timetable doesn’t help the Wayne estate much. So the question is whether Bruce has been “exposed to a specific peril of death” so as to meet the requirements of § 2-1.7(b).
Now, Batman clearly meets the requirements—a plane exploded with him apparently in it, so he could easily be declared dead without a body. This is the classic scenario for “specific peril”: missing planes, wreckage of boats found, houses burned to the ground, that sort of thing.
But this doesn’t help us much with Bruce Wayne, because the courts don’t know he was in the nuclear explosion that consumed the not-a-Batwing-Bat-plane. So what might count as “specific peril of death”?