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Help for missing relatives

The law relating to people who are missing and presumed dead has been improved but now the Ministry of Justice have announced assistance for the relatives of missing people to take charge of the financial affairs of the missing person.

The aim of the new law is to ensure that once found, a missing person can return to a normal life, their affairs having been looked after for them.

The Office of Public Guardian would oversee the appointment of a guardian to look after the financial affairs of the missing person. The guardian would be a person with sufficient interest in the affairs of the missing person. The guardian would then be able to suspend direct debit payments for utility bills and mobile phones and continue to make mortgage payments.

The appointment of the guardian would be a bit like the appointment of a deputy under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 who looks after the affairs of a person who no longer has understanding. The guardian would be required to file accounts to be approved by the Court.

Initial appointment of a guardian would be for a period of a maximum of four years with the ability for a guardian to apply for a further extension of another maximum of four years.

The aim is for the legislation to be put before parliament after the election.

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