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According to statistics, 180,000 people are reported missing every year, over half of which are adults and whilst the majority are located within the first 48 hours, an estimated 3,800 adults are missing for a week, or longer.
The disappearance of a loved one is a deeply distressing experience for all concerned and as the reality of the situation starts to become clear the practical problems emerge. The missing person may be a joint owner of a property, have a mortgage, have utility bills to pay. There may be investments that need to be managed.
Up until July 2019, the only way in which a missing person’s assets and debts could be dealt with was to obtain a Declaration of Presumed Death from the Court by demonstrating that a person had been missing for at least 7 years or that they had died in a natural disaster .
The Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017 (informally known as Claudia’s Law as a result of Peter Lawrence’s campaigning for a change in the law following the disappearance of his daughter in 2009) is intended to fill a gap in the legal process, and enables a trusted guardian to manage the financial and property affairs of a person who has been missing for 90 days or more.
You can apply to the High Court for a Guardianship Order which will allow you to manage the finances or property of someone who is missing; is in prison abroad and cannot communicate or has been taken hostage or kidnapped. The person must be missing from home and their usual activities and you must not know where they are and they cannot contact you to let you know their decisions.
Ordinarily, a person has to have been missing for 90 days before an application can be made, in certain urgent circumstances, for example the person’s house is being repossessed, you can apply earlier.
The Office of the Public Guardian will supervise you while you are acting as a guardian and you are required to report to them when requested.
At Ramsdens Solicitors, we specialise in working with vulnerable and incapacitated people and their loved ones across the UK. We can assist and support both lay clients and other professionals in dealing with Guardianship Orders. Partner and Panel Deputy, Veronica Mullins is named on the Office of the Public Guardian’s Panel of Professional Guardians.
For more information on managing a missing person’s affairs visit the Missing People charity.
Ramsdens Solicitors is ranked in the prestigious Legal 500. We have the knowledge and expertise required to assist you with all Court of Protection-related issues.
We also understand the sensitive nature of such cases, and will endeavour to treat your case with the utmost care.
View our awards and accreditations.