When someone goes missing, it can be hard for their loved ones to know what to do about their money and affairs. Until now, it hasn’t been possible for anyone to legally manage a missing person’s affairs on their behalf. However, the law on this is due to change very soon.
The Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017 has been given Royal Assent but has not yet been finalised. The associated rules and regulations that will govern the Act are still being decided upon.
This new law has been discussed a great deal in the press. It’s often referred to as ‘Claudia’s Law’, as the family of missing York resident Claudia Lawrence are among those who have campaigned to bring this new law into force.
It is hoped that the new Guardianship law will come into effect in autumn 2018, but no date has yet been confirmed
How will the Guardianship Law Work?
Under the new law, it will be possible to apply for a court order to be appointed as Guardian over a missing person’s money and estate. Applications will be accepted once an individual has been missing for at least ninety days.
When a Guardian is appointed, they’ll be responsible for making decisions in the best interests of the missing person. They may therefore be able to take action such as:
- Selling, renting or re-mortgaging property
- Investing money
- Recovering debts owed to the missing person
- Bringing or continuing legal proceedings on behalf of the missing person
- Giving gifts that the missing person would likely have made, such as for birthdays or weddings of family members
The Courts will decide what rights a Guardian should be given in each individual case.
If your loved one has been missing for 7 years or more, or you have clear evidence that they have passed away, you may wish to consider applying for a Declaration of Presumed Death, to allow you to administer their estate.