The new Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017 will came into force on Wednesday 31st July. This new law is designed to end the difficulties currently faced by the families of missing persons.
It is estimated that 180,000 people every year are reported missing, the majority of which are found within days or weeks.
Under the new law a guardian can be appointed to deal with the affairs of a person who has been missing for 90 days or more.
A guardian can be appointed for an initial four year period and they can re-apply at the end of this term.
Under current legislation there is no mechanism for someone to manage the financial affairs of a person who has gone missing.
The only option available to the families of someone who is missing was to apply to obtain a Presumption of Presumed Death from the Court. This could only be applied for if the person had been missing for at least seven years.
This can mean that for seven years there is no one who can manage the financial affairs of a missing person, leading to escalating debts, missed mortgage payments and continuing bills.
Families will even be unable to stop direct debits from the missing persons account.
The families of those who are missing are having to deal with an already traumatic and distressing situation, which is added to by not being able to manage any aspect of their affairs.
The new law should assist the families of missing person’s by offering a solution.