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General Laws

Section 1-107. [Evidence of Death or Status.]

In addition to the rules of evidence in courts of general jurisdiction, the following rules relating to a determination of death and status apply:—

(1) Death occurs when an individual has sustained either (i) irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions or (ii) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem. A determination of death shall be made in accordance with accepted medical standards.

(2) A certified or authenticated copy of a death certificate purporting to be issued by an official or agency of the place where the death purportedly occurred is prima facie evidence of the fact, place, date, and time of death and the identity of the decedent.

(3) A certified or authenticated copy of any record or report of a governmental agency, domestic or foreign, that an individual is missing, detained, dead, or alive is prima facie evidence of the status and of the dates, circumstances, and places disclosed by the record or report.

(4) In the absence of prima facie evidence of death under paragraph (2) or (3), the fact of death may be established by evidence, including circumstantial evidence.

(5) An individual whose death is not established under the preceding paragraphs who is absent for a continuous period of 5 years, during which the person has not been heard from, and whose absence is not satisfactorily explained after diligent search or inquiry, is presumed to be dead. The person’s death is presumed to have occurred at the end of the period unless there is sufficient evidence for determining that death occurred earlier.

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