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When a family member goes missing the practical implications stretch far beyond just wondering where they are.
Someone is reported missing in the UK every 90 seconds and each year 1 in 500 adults go missing. Whilst many of these missing people are found, for some families their loved one just cannot be tracked down.
The Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017 (also known as “Claudia’s Law” after Claudia Lawrence the chef who went missing in 2009 and has never been found) now sets out a framework to help families affected by this awful situation.
Under the provisions of the 2017 Act families are now able to apply for a Guardianship order to allow them to look after and protect the missing person’s assets and property.
Who can apply?
Anyone over the age of 18 who is considered by the High Court to be acting in the best interests of the missing person and who consents to being appointed can apply. The Court will consider the relationship between the person making the application and the missing person and the Guardian will be supervised by the Office of the Public Guardian (the OPG)
When can you apply?
An application can be made once a person has been deemed missing for a period of 90 days ending on the day on which the application is made to the High Court for a Guardianship Order.
What can a Guardian do?
The appointed Guardian will be able to act on behalf of the missing person in much the same way as an attorney does. They will not become the owner of the missing person’s assets but they will – for example – be able to deal with banks, building societies, employers and mortgage companies etc.
Previously families had to wait 7 years to obtain a Declaration of Presumed Death to be able to take any steps. for more information on application for Declarations of Presumed Death
The Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act will help families to address the practical issues that arise when someone goes missing.
Who is a “missing person”?
For the purposes of the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act a person will be considered missing if their whereabouts are unknown, they are absent from where they normally live and from their daily activities or they are unable to make or communicate their decisions for reasons beyond their control.
The Act does not apply to those who lack capacity to made decisions.
Under the provisions of the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017 a person may be considered missing if they are missing in the UK or abroad, kidnapped, held hostage or detained (whether in prison or elsewhere)