An  Act concerning presumptive death, relating to persons absent after catastrophic events
and disasters; amending K.S.A. 59-2704 and 59-2705 and repealing the existing sections.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Kansas:

      Section  1. K.S.A. 59-2704 is hereby amended to read as follows: 59-
2704. (a) An absentee shall be presumed to be dead for the purposes of
this act if:

      (1) The absentee shall remain unheard from by those persons most
likely to hear from such absentee for a period of not less than five years,;

      (2) one or more persons who had a bona fide motive for locating the
absentee have conducted a diligent search for the absentee in all places
where such absentee's presence could reasonably be expected.

      (b) If no such search has been made with reference to an absentee
who has been unheard from for more than five years and for whose estate
a trustee has been appointed in accordance with this act, the district court
may on the court's own motion order the trustee to conduct such search
under the direction of the court and pay the reasonable expenses thereof
out of the estate.

      (c) Absentees missing as a result of a catastrophic event or disaster
shall be presumed dead under section 2, and amendments thereto.

      New Sec.  2. (a) In cases of catastrophic events, disasters, states of
emergency or states of war emergency, the death of persons whose bodies
could not be found or identified shall be established according to the
following procedure:

      (1) The governor or president of the United States or both shall have
declared a state of emergency or state of war emergency.

      (2) An absentee shall be presumed dead immediately after the cata-
strophic event if:

      (A) The absentee's body could not be recovered due to the nature of
the catastrophic event; and

      (B) evidence presented to a court of proper jurisdiction places the
absentee at the site of the catastrophic event on the date and at the time
of the event.

      (3) Upon a finding of presumptive death, the district court shall order
the coroner in the county in which death occurred to prepare a death
certificate with the cause of death identified as due to the catastrophic
event in accordance with K.S.A. 2001 Supp. 65-2412(c) and 65-2414, and
amendments thereto.

      (4) Upon receipt of the death certificate the office of vital statistics
shall register and make available for issuance certified copies of the death
certificate in accordance with K.S.A. 65-2401 et seq.

      (5) If pertinent new information is received by the court, pursuant to
a court order, the presumptive death certificate may be amended in ac-
cordance with K.S.A. 65-2422c. In a case where the absentee is found to
be alive, the presumptive death certificate shall be rescinded.

      (6) The secretary of the department of health and environment may
by rule and regulation prescribe forms and procedures to implement the
provisions of this act.

      (b) For the purposes of this act:

      (1) ``Catastrophic event'' means a disaster that will require massive
state or federal assistance, or both, including immediate military involve-

      (2) ``Disaster'' means any natural, technological or civil emergency
that causes damage of sufficient severity and magnitude to result in a
declaration of a state of emergency by the governor or president of the
United States or a state of war emergency by the president of the United

      (3) ``State of emergency'' means the declaration of the existence of
conditions of disaster, catastrophe or extreme peril to the safety of persons
or property within the state caused by air or water pollution, fire, flood,
storm, epidemic, earthquake, resource shortages or other natural or man-
made conditions other than conditions causing a ``state of war emer-
gency'', which conditions by reasons of their magnitude are or are likely
to be beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment and fa-
cilities of any single county or municipality, or both, and requires com-
bined forces of the state to combat.

      (4) ``State of war emergency'' means the condition which exists im-
mediately, with or without a declaration by the governor, whenever this
state or nation is attacked by an enemy of the United States or upon
receipt by the state of a warning from the federal government indicating
an action against persons or society including but not limited to, emer-
gency attack, sabotage, terrorism, civil unrest or other action impairing
the orderly administration of government is probable or imminent.

      Sec.  3. K.S.A. 59-2705 is hereby amended to read as follows: 59-
2705. (a) At any time, upon petition signed by the absentee or on a pe-
tition of an attorney-in-fact acting upon an adequate power of attorney
granted by the absentee, the court shall declare the absentee alive and
order the state registrar to rescind the presumptive death certificate and
direct the termination of the trust estate and the transfer of all property
held thereunder to the absentee or to the designated attorney-in-fact.

      (b) Upon the petition of any person interested in the estate of an
absentee presumed to be dead, and on proof thereof in addition to all
other matters required by law to be proved for the appointment of an
administrator or executor, the district court shall proceed to administer
the estate of such absentee as if such absentee was known to have died
on the date of the filing of said such petition.

      (c) Upon petition of any person interested in the estate of any person
reported by the United States department of defense as missing in action
for over three (3) years, the district court, upon proof that such person
has been reported as missing in action for over three (3) years, shall
proceed to terminate the trust estate of such absentee in the same manner
as the final settlement of a decedent's estate. The district court shall
proceed to administer the estate of such absentee as if said such absentee
was known to have died on the date of the filing of said such petition, but
the district court shall not declare the absentee to be deceased.

      (d) All laws now or hereafter enacted for the administration of estates
of known decedents shall be applicable to absentees declared presump-
tively dead under section 2, and amendments thereto, and subsection (b)
of this section, except:

      (1) No administrator, executor or personal representative of such ab-
sentee shall make a final distribution of the assets of such estate until the
expiration of three years after the date of presumptive death, provided
that assets in the estate of such absentee which are exempt from attach-
ment by creditors, including moneys paid by the United States of such
nature and other assets of any such estate which would otherwise be
available for the support of the spouse, children and other dependents of
such absentee, if such absentee were alive, after allowance for debts and
costs of administration, may be paid for the support of the spouse and
children and dependents of such absentee upon order of the court until
such time as distribution may be made or administration terminated. If
the absentee has not appeared after the period of three years the court's
finding shall become effective to permit final distribution of such person's

      (2) Upon final settlement of the absentee's estate the provisions of
subsection (e) shall apply.

      (d) (e) All laws now or hereafter enacted for the administration of
estates of known decedents shall be applicable to the settlement of estates
authorized by subsections (b) and (c), (c) and (d) except:

      (1) If such absentee should return within five (5) years after entry of
the order of final settlement, any order made during such administration
shall be subject to being set aside on such absentee's application for good
cause shown and filed within three (3) months after such absentee
learned, or reasonably could have learned of such order; but setting aside
any such order shall not prejudice the rights of any person who has ac-
quired an interest in any property for value, or of any trustee, executor
or administrator who has acted in good faith in accordance with the pro-
visions of this act.

      (2) No distributee of a share or interest in the estate shall receive or
be assigned the same on final settlement until said such distributee shall
have filed a bond conditioned that if said such absentee shall return within
five (5) years from receipt or assignment of the same and make claim
thereto, said such property, or the reasonable value thereof if it has been
disposed of, together with the net income therefrom, shall be returned
to the absentee.

      The court may require sureties on said such bond, which sureties shall
be subject to the approval of the court. No action shall be brought on
such bond more than one (1) year after the absentee learned of such
distribution nor in any event more than six (6) years after the date of such

      Sec.  4. K.S.A. 59-2704 and 59-2705 are hereby repealed.

      Sec.  5. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its
publication in the statute book.

Approved April 15, 2002.