Presumption of Death

When an individual has been missing for seven years or more, it’s possible to apply for a Declaration of Presumed Death. It may also be possible to apply for this document in cases where an individual has been missing for less than seven years but there’s clear evidence to suggest that they’ve died. These applications are made to the High Court under the Presumption of Death Act 2013.

Who can apply for a Declaration of Presumed Death?

In most cases, applications for Declarations of Presumed Death are made by a close family member such as a spouse, civil partner, parent, child or sibling. If the missing person doesn’t have any close relatives, then ‘a person of sufficient interest’ (such as a distant relative) may apply instead.

The High Court will decide whether or not these applicants have sufficient interest for their application to be granted. We can advise on whether your application is likely to be successful.

Helping you with Declaration of Presumed Death

Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss your options in relation to a missing loved one. We understand that this is likely to be a very difficult decision to make, and we’ll give you all the information you’ll need to make an informed decision.

Why is a Declaration of Presumed Death document important?

There are a number of reasons why you may wish to apply for a Declaration of Presumed Death for a missing person. Once a formal declaration has been received, you will then be able to apply for a death certificate.

Many families find that obtaining this allows them to accept the situation and grieve in a way that they weren’t able to before. They may also be able to arrange a memorial service and to place a plaque or headstone.

There are also some very practical benefits of applying for a Declaration of Presumed Death. This document enables the dissolution of the missing person’s marriage or civil partnership, which means that their spouse or civil partner is able to move on in legal terms.

The granting of the Declaration of Presumed Death will also start the process of allowing a Grant of Administration to be obtained. This means that you will be able to deal with the estate of the missing person, either in accordance with their Will if they left one, or with the Intestacy Rules if they did not.

If your loved one is missing, but you are not yet ready or able to make an application for a Declaration of Presumed Death, you may wish to consider applying for guardianship over their affairs.

Get the legal advice you need

Dealing with legal issues can be confusing and stressful. We understand this, and we’re always on hand to untangle jargon and offer support.

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