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 such as dealing with their finances whilst they are away.
Only a small fraction of missing people never return, but if a relative has been missing for some time, or there are circumstances that suggest the missing person is likely to have died, some families look to resolve their relative’s affairs and administer their estate.
Here you will find guidance on how to deal with these legal issues.
Whilst this information has been provided in good faith, it should not be taken as legal advice. For information tailored to your individual circumstances, please contact your police force, solicitor or an advisory organisation as appropriate to your query. Call us on 116 000 and we can help put you in touch with organisations who can help.
New legislation, called the Guardianship (Missing Person's) Act 2017, was passed which means that families can become formal guardian's of their missing person's affairs.
Download an Overview of guardianship
We have also compiled guidance explaining and detailing other ways you might go about managing your missing loved ones affairs during this time.
In some situations your local MP could be a source of help and advice.
Download our Guidance Sheet on 'How your MP could help'.
Below are guidance sheets on the presumption of death systems in place in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England and Wales (as the law in this area 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.
Download 'Presumption of Death in Scotland'.