LONDON (AP) — The son of English aristocrat Lord Lucan — who disappeared after his children's nanny was bludgeoned to death four decades ago — has asked Britain's High Court to issue a death certificate so he can inherit his father's title.

The son, George Bingham, wants to become the Eighth Earl of Lucan.

His father, Richard John Bingham, the Seventh Earl, vanished after nanny Sandra Rivett was found dead at the family's London home on Nov. 7, 1974. Lucan's wife, Veronica, was hit in the head repeatedly when she ran downstairs to investigate.

Lord Lucan's bloodstained car was later found abandoned near England's south coast.

In 1975, an inquest jury declared him Rivett's killer. Detectives believe the aristocrat — a heavy gambler nicknamed "Lucky Lucan" — intended to murder his wife and killed the nanny by mistake.

The mystery of Lord Lucan's disappearance still intrigues Britain. Many believe he drowned himself in the English Channel soon after the killing, and the High Court declared him dead for probate purposes in 1999. But there have been scores of reported sightings around the world, in countries including Australia, Ireland, South Africa and New Zealand.

Bingham says the 1999 ruling didn't prove death "for all purposes." His new application, which the court began considering Tuesday, had been opposed by Rivett's son, Neil Berriman.

Berriman has said that Lord Lucan, who would be 80 today, may still be alive and if so should be prosecuted for his mother's murder.

Bingham's lawyer, Michael Bloch, told Tuesday's court hearing that Berriman no longer objected to the orders sought, "but his concerns as to historical matters remain as sensitive as ever."

A senior court official, Paul Teverson, said the case would be heard in full in February or March. He gave Berriman permission to participate.