Guidance for Families of Missing People

Date Added 04.03.20

The Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017 came into force on 31st July 2019. This long-awaited law provides families with the ability to gain access to and control over the property and financial affairs of those who are missing, have been taken hostage or kidnapped and those who are imprisoned abroad.

According to the Charity “Missing People”, someone is reported missing every 90 seconds in the UK. Whilst the majority of these people will return home, for some this is the beginning of many weeks, months and years of unrest, unknowing and financial turmoil.

Guidance for Families of Missing People

Also known as “Claudia’s Law”, the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017 provides a new category of legal representative to address the financial burden often left behind when a person goes missing. Prior to this Act, there was no recourse for families left in such a situation until they could satisfy the Presumption of Death Act 2013, which required that a person be missing for at least 7 years.

Under the new Act, an appointed Guardian will now have the power to manage and safeguard the financial affairs of the missing person, such as cancelling direct debits, settling bills and dealing with property for an initial period of 4 years. This will help to alleviate the financial burden experienced when a person goes missing.

To become a Guardian, an application must be made to the High Court and Tollers’ specialist Elderly and Vulnerable Client Unit (EVCU) is proud to be able to support families through the application process to become a Guardian.

Tollers are also pleased to confirm that Martin Timothy Hill, Court of Protection approved Panel Deputy has now been added to the Office of the Public Guardian’s list of approved Panel Guardians for Missing Persons. As a Panel Guardian, Martin will be able to manage the property and financial affairs on behalf of those who do not have an alternative representative to act in this capacity for them.

As an experienced Panel Deputy, Martin Hill has spent many years safeguarding the financial affairs or those who lack capacity and Tollers’ specialist team in the EVCU support him in this role.

If you have had the misfortune of experiencing the loss of a family member in this way and for information and support in making an application, please contact our EVCU team.

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