The wife of missing U.S. adventurer Steve Fossett on Monday asked an Illinois court to declare her husband legally dead, media reports said.
Through her lawyer, Peggy Fossett said she believes the millionaire pilot was killed in a plane crash in September.
"As painful as it is for Mrs. Fossett, other members of the family and his many friends, it is time to initiate this process," said attorney Michael A. LoVallo, who filed the petition in Cook County Circuit Court.
The request was a step toward resolving the legal status of Fossett's estate, which court papers describe as "vast, surpassing eight figures in liquid assets, various entities and real estate," according to LoVallo.
The 63-year old adventurer disappeared Sept. 3 after taking off in a single-engine plane from a Nevada airstrip. He did not have a parachute, nor did he take a watch that had a transponder and could have sent out a distress signal, the petition said.
A rescue effort was officially suspended after more than a month of fruitless searching. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded in a preliminary report that the plane was destroyed in a fatal accident.
Fossett, who made millions as a commodities broker in Chicago, was the first solo world tourist by balloon in 2002. He has also set more than 100 world records in five sports, including the one for the longest solo, non-stop, non-refueled flight in terms of distance in 2006.