If you are looking to disappear and you don’t want anyone to look for you, faking your death might sound like a good idea. You may have other motives for faking your death, but, before you do, please consider the legal ramifications.
Faking one’s death, otherwise known as “pseudocide,” can be an alluring idea for any of a number of reasons, some of which are legal and others not so legal. In this article we will explore the question “Is it legal to fake your death?”
When It Is Legal to Fake Your Death
The bottom line is that there is nothing illegal about faking your own death. There are no federal or Nevada state statues that would prohibit you from playing dead and disappearing. Plotting your own fake death is perfectly legal if you are just looking to disappear.
Although faking death itself (i.e. just disappearing without a trace) is not illegal, it would be very difficult to follow through completely without breaking several laws.
The Illegality of Faking Death
If you are looking to fake your own death for fraudulent reasons, you could get yourself into a lot of trouble. Here are some examples (by no means is this an exhaustive list) of when it is not legal to fake your death:
Stealing Life Insurance: If you are planning to fake your own death for the purposes of getting life insurance proceeds, you will end up getting yourself into a heap of trouble. If you have life insurance, it will be paid out if you are successful in convincing them you are dead. Once you make (or cause to be made) a false representation to an insurance company regarding your death, you have broken the law.
Evading State and/or Federal Taxes: Your tax obligation will remain if you fake your death. In fact, if they find out that you have faked your death, the interest and fines associated with the tax debt could more than double what you originally owed.
Violating Court Orders: Court orders are a legal obligation. If you are trying to get away with not having to face the consequences of your actions, you will get yourself into trouble.
Implicating a Spouse as Part of the Con: If you are married, and your spouse knows anything about your plot, he or she could be facing the same consequences that you are for stealing life insurance, evading taxes, or violating a court order.
Forgery and Fraud: If you create any papers or make any representations (like in a suicide letter or by leaving fake dental records behind) that are not true, you could be on the hook for forgery or fraud.
If you are in violation of any of the above examples, the criminal and civil implications can be very heavy. If you are found guilty of any of the above, you could be looking at jail time, huge fines, and/or restitution (which means you’d have to pay back the money you stole).
Below is a story of a California Rapper who decided that it would be a good idea to fake his own death to get out of a court order. Needless to say, they found him and threw the book at him.
Matt Pfau is an attorney and founding partner at the law firm Parry & Pfau. Matt has a background in business consulting, estate planning, business start-ups and bankruptcy and is licensed to practice in both Nevada and California. A partner in the firm Parry & Pfau, he can be reached at 702-912-4451 or [email protected].