What is Presumption of Death?

Very few people stay missing for a long period of time but sadly, the circumstances in which some people go missing, or the length of time that they are missing for, may mean that some families and loved ones may need or want to resolve their affairs by applying for a Certificate of Presumed Death.

What is Presumption of Death? 

There are a range of circumstances in which someone can be presumed dead but generally the court will grant a certificate if there is significant evidence to suggest that someone has died, despite a body not being found, or if the person has been missing for more than seven years without any indications that they are alive. If you wish to apply for Presumption of Death you will need to apply to the court and provide sufficient evidence to support your claim.

The laws and how they apply differs across the United Kingdom, there is separate guidance depending on where a family lives. There is additionally a sheet on the so-called ‘seven year rule’ when dealing with a missing person’s affairs, as whilst this time period does have significance, there are cases when a person’s affairs can be resolved much sooner, or later, than seven years.


England and Wales


Northern Ireland




Get support

 This can be an incredibly difficult process. Missing People are not legal experts and we can’t provide legal advice but if you’re going through a presumption of death application please contact our team and we will help to talk through your options.


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