What is Guardianship

When a loved one is missing for an extended period of time, not only can it be emotionally traumatic, but there may also be additional difficulties.

These extra difficulties might include:

  • family members left without financial support;
  • insolvency proceedings because the missing person is unable to pay their debts;
  • banks or other financial institutions not able to release the assets or information about the assets to family;
  • wasting money on automated payments that cannot be stopped.
  • families left unable to pay mortgage payments with the loss of the missing person’s income but unable to make changes or sell the property, potentially resulting in repossession.

About Guardianship

Only a small fraction of people stay missing for a long time, but when this does happen their relatives or other loved ones might need to look after their affairs. They may need to pay bills from the missing person’s account; cancel direct debits; make decisions about property; or look after dependents. Some people will have shared finances with a missing person so may need to manage their affairs like a joint-mortgage or joint bank accounts.

Legislation, the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017, was introduced to allow people to become guardians of a missing person’s affairs. Guardians can ‘stand in the shoes’ of the missing person: make payments from their accounts and make changes to financial arrangements.

If you have a missing loved one and need to look after their affairs you may be able to make a guardianship application.

Who can apply for Guardianship

To apply to become a guardian, you must meet the following criteria:

  • be at least 18 years old or a trust corporation;
  • have consented to become a guardian; and
  • be suitable to act as the guardian of the missing person’s property or financial affairs.

Read a full overview of the Guardianship Act.

How to apply for Guardianship

If you meet the criteria and understand what has been outlined in the overview download, you might wish to apply for Guardianship. There is a process to follow, and below is a document to help you through this. You will need to apply using a ‘Part 8’ court claim form which is available at the Gov.UK website. 

Whilst this information has been provided in good faith, it should not be taken as legal advice. You may need to employ a solicitor if you wish to make a guardianship application.

If you would like to apply, please download our guidance below.

Download guidance

If you don’t think Guardianship is right for you but you still want advice on how to manage your missing person’s finances please find some further information here.