There are 180,000 people reported missing every year in the UK, but what happens to their finances and property whilst they are absent?
For years, families were stuck in limbo, with no legal authority to access bank accounts or make important decisions on behalf of their missing loved one. The only way to manage assets was to obtain a ‘Declaration of Presumed Death’ from the Court, meaning families had to prove their loved one had been missing longer than seven years. Not only is this an excruciating nightmare as families may not necessarily want to presume them at deceased but it’s also an expensive one, as funds like direct debits and mortgages would continue to be paid by the missing person.
However, new legislation has now come into effect to support families in this awful situation.
What is the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act?
The Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act came into effect on 31st July 2019, following Claudia’s Law, a campaign about a missing woman from 2009. The well-received legislation now means families of “missing people” can take control and protect their loved one’s financial affairs by applying for a Guardianship Order to the High Court. If a person has been missing over 90 days, a Guardian can be appointed to make decisions based on the best interest of the missing person.
Who can be appointed as a Guardian by the Court?
A Guardian must be at least 18 years old and act in the best interest of the missing person. The Court will assess the relationship between the potential Guardian and the missing person, their capability to take on the role and consider any conflicts of interest. The Guardian will also be closely monitored by the Office of Public Guardian (OPG) and may be given specific requirements they can and cannot do whilst acting for the missing person.
How can Linder Myers Solicitors help you?
This complex, yet welcomed legislation will reduce the stress and uncertainty for many families, allowing them to manage the financial affairs of their loved one until they return home.
We understand that dealing with the Court can be overwhelming, stressful and confusing – particularly during such a difficult time our team of experts can work with you to submit your application to Court, allowing you to focus on the issues more important to you. We can visit you at your home to provide advice, support and answer any concerns you may have.
If you have any questions, or require legal advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Linder Myers Court of Protection team today. Call us on 0800 042 0700, or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.