Every year approximately 250,000 people in the UK are reported missing. Whilst many are found relatively quickly, other disappearances continue for prolonged periods, leaving family members to cope with the pain of their loss and possible financial difficulties.
In October 2014 a new piece of legislation came into force called the Presumption of Death Act 2013. This introduced into England and Wales a new court based procedure enabling those left behind to obtain a declaration that the missing person is deemed to have died. Once a declaration is made the General Register Office enters the declaration onto a Register of Presumed Deaths. A certified copy of the entry is the equivalent to ‘death certificate’ and can be used for all purposes, for example dealing with joint property.
Since the Presumption of Death Act was introduced there have been further developments in this area and the Ministry of Justice, in March 2015, announced its plans to introduce a new legal status of guardian of the property and affairs of a missing person.
This essentially means that a person with ‘sufficient interest’ will be able to protect the assets of a missing loved one. It is intended that this will assist the families of a missing person deal with the practical issues particularly as a declaration of death cannot be obtained until the missing person has not be known to be alive for at least 7 years.
Kirsten Bennett has vast experience working in this area and regularly acts for families left behind. She also has published articles relating to the law on presumption of death and assisted in the successful campaign for a change in the law.
For a free initial discussion please contact her on 0161 927 3118.