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Farron welcomes more help for families of missing people

August 27, 2014 1:58 PM

TF KendalFamilies of missing people will be given extra help when a loved one goes missing, under proposals announced by the government today. These proposals have been welcomed by South Lakes MP Tim Farron.

The government's proposals, which fill a gap in the law, would create a new power for relatives of missing people. This would allow families to take care of legal and financial affairs following a disappearance - for example being able to suspend direct debits for mobile phone and utility bills or to make mortgage payments.

It follows the introduction of certificates of presumed death which can be applied for by relatives from 1 October 2014. These will be equivalent to death certificates and will enable families to resolve a loved one's affairs when he or she is thought have died.

The Ministry of Justice consultation, launched today, seeks views on whether a system should be created under which a person can be appointed to deal with the property and affairs of a missing person; and, if so, how and on what terms.

The proposals set out in the consultation includes:

  • that the appointment will be made by the court on application by an interested person after an absence of at least 90 days
  • the appointment will confer authority on the guardian to act for the missing person in relation to his or her property and affairs, subject to any limits imposed by the court
  • the guardian will have to act in the best interests of the missing person
  • the appointment will be for a period of up to 4 years with the possibility of extension for a further 4
  • the guardian will be required to account for his or her actions to a supervisory body

Tim said: "Families affected by the trauma of a missing loved one, currently not only have to deal with that heartache but also need to deal with a series of practical issues in relation to that persons affairs. So I welcome this consultation and the potential creation of a status of guardian of the property and affairs of a missing person to help enable these problems to be solved."