November 27, 2007 / 11:25 PM / 12 years ago

Fossett's wife asks court to declare aviator dead

CHICAGO, Nov 27 (Reuters) - The wife of Steve Fossett is seeking to have the missing millionaire adventurer declared legally dead nearly three months after the airplane he was flying went missing over Nevada, according to her attorneys.

The petition filed for Peggy Fossett in Cook County Circuit Court in Illinois on Monday said investigators have concluded Steve Fossett’s airplane was destroyed in a fatal accident and requested a judicial finding of his death.

"As painful as it is for Mrs. Fossett, other members of his family and his many friends, the time has come to initiate this process," Michael LoVallo, an attorney for Peggy Fossett, said in a statement.

A declaration of death would be one step toward settling Fossett’s estate.

Fossett, a 63-year-old holder of several aviation and sailing records, vanished with his airplane after taking off from a private airstrip in western Nevada on Sept. 3. An exhaustive search failed to find any wreckage.

"Although an ongoing recovery mission continues, all involved have accepted the inevitable conclusion that Mr. Fossett did not survive," Mary Downie, another attorney for Peggy Fossett, said in a statement.

Fossett made his fortune in the Chicago financial markets and an official at his organization said Fossett considered Illinois to be his primary residence.

(Writing by Jim Christie, Editing by Mary Milliken and Cynthia Osterman)

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