Financial Guardians for Missing People Welcomed by Charity

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How often do you speak to your relatives in a day, or even a week? On average, you'll probably talk to close family members daily, via apps such as Whatsapp and Facebook. Because of these various forms of communication, we are quick to notice when someone drops off the radar.

Missing Person

If a family member goes missing without letting anyone know where they are, it can cause great stress on the rest of the family members. There will be the obvious worry as to whether or not they are safe, but more pragmatically, you may also need to take responsibility for their financial affairs.

Presumption of Death Act

The Presumption of Death Act passed in 2013, allows family members to get a death certificate for a missing relative using one single application. These certificates will be available from October this year when the Act comes into full effect. The certificate effectively allows the family of the missing person to deal with the missing persons' property and legal affairs. Currently, a person has to be missing for at least 7 years before they can be presumed dead.

Susannah Drury, Director of Policy and Advocacy for Missing People commented that in some cases where a person is missing for a long time and their family are struggling to take action under the law "finances are destroyed beyond repair and homes can be lost".

Bringing England Up to Speed

Looking after a missing persons affairs can be a stressful and uncertain time, but under the new rules the court will allow you to preside over their affairs for up to 4 years. Then there's the possibility of an extension if the person remains missing.

Similar laws such as the Presumption of Death Act already exist in Scotland and Northern Ireland, so the new bill brings England up to scratch with the rest of the UK. This is the first step in the right direction to give families the respite they need in this situation.

A partner at Simpson Millar LLP said: “Dealing with the emotional impact of a missing relative is stressful enough. This is compounded by being unable to look after that persons financial affairs and the worry of bills going unpaid and debt building up. Currently there is no means of dealing with this so any new legislation would be a welcome development".




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