Guardianship

Imagine your loved one going missing. Then imagine battling to save the home you share and watching the life you hope they will return to fall apart.

As part of Missing Rights, we are campaigning for a system of guardianship to be introduced so that families can apply for the legal right to manage a missing loved one's affairs whilst they are away.

Without the legal authority to act on a missing relative's behalf, families can struggle to engage institutions and keep their relative's affairs in order. From banking, mortgages and insurance, to benefits and dealing with utilities, families report various problems and, in the worst cases, the missing person's finances may be damaged beyond repair and homes may be lost.

Details of the campaign can be found in this section, and our policy briefing on guardianship can be found on our policy page. If you are a family looking to deal with a missing loved one's affairs, please see our guidance for families of missing people.

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The Policy and Research team circulates a regular newsletter, Missing News, containing up to date information about research, policy, events and sector developments. To sign up to Missing News, or to read previous editions, click here.

Scotland - A new campaign: Following the success of the campaign for guardianship in England and Wales we are hoping that a similar system will be introduced in Scotland. We have already begun campaigning and hope to see the necessary progress soon. We need to hear from families who live in Scotland who have had a loved one go missing and experienced difficulties with financial and legal affairs. If you would be happy to talk to us about your experience please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Imagine someone you love going missing. Then imagine watching the life that you hope they will return to, fall apart

As well as experiencing emotional trauma, families can also face practical, financial and legal problems as a result of their loved one being missing. From banking, mortgages and insurance, to drawing benefit payments and dealing with utilities, families report various challenges if they attempt to protect their missing loved one’s finances and property.

Families may struggle to do even the most basic of things, like ensure their loved one’s home and finances are maintained and their dependants cared for. They may face further issues if a family member has joint assets or liabilities (like a joint mortgage) with the missing person, or is financially dependent on them. In the worst cases, finances may be damaged beyond repair and homes repossessed.

In April 2017 legislation was passed for England and Wales to introduce a new system of guardianship. We were delighted with this progress as guardianship will allow families to apply for the legal right to manage a missing loved one’s finances and property whilst they are away - similar to Power of Attorney. Such a system will remove the additional burden from families when many are already at their lowest ebb, whilst also providing greater legal certainty to institutions whose customers may go missing, and other agencies that come into contact with families.

More information

For more detailed information on guardianship and the need for it, see our Guardianship policy briefing.

Information on the campaign for guardianship and the legislation which was introduced in 2017 can be found here.

If you are a family looking for guidance on the financial and legal issues raised on this page, see our Family Guidance pages.

Missing People is very grateful to Clifford Chance LLP for its pro bono support throughout the charity’s work on guardianship. 

Scotland and Northern Ireland

Following the success of the campaign for guardianship in England and Wales we are hoping that similar systems will be introduced in Northern Ireland and Scotland. We have already begun campaigning and hope to see necessary progress soon.

We need to hear from families who live in either country who have had a loved one go missing and experienced difficulties with financial and legal affairs. If you would be happy to talk to us about your experience please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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