Guide To The ‘Presumption of Death’

A quarter of a million people go missing in the UK every year and this can be extremely distressing for families who are left not only wondering if their relative is dead or alive but later also having to deal with their affairs.

Mention missing persons and one of the first names to come to mind is that of Lord Lucan, who mysteriously disappeared in 1974 never to be seen again. A more recent case involved Manic Street Preachers guitarist Richey Edwards whose body was also never found.

Prior to the Presumption of Death Act 2013, people found it virtually impossible to access to bank accounts, obtain a death certificate or take control of property, assets or titles if someone went missing.

In the case of the Manic Street Preachers guitarist, it took the family 13 years to even register the death. Of course it can’t always be assumed that a person is dead simply because they have gone missing for a few years. There are cases where people come back but since the Presumption of Death act came into force, it at least makes it less stressful for relatives who want to move on in life.

At the time the Act was introduced in 2013, Former Justice Minister, Helen Grant MP said, “The certificate of presumed death that we are introducing is a significant step forward for families who face the terrible situation of losing a loved one and creates a simpler legal framework to ensure bereaved people can better deal with the property and affairs of a loved one who has gone missing and is presumed dead.” Former Justice Minister, Helen Grant MP, March 2013.

If you are affected by any issues relating to the above and require legal assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly legal team who can advise you.