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New role of Guardian of property and affairs of a missing person

The government is to create a new role- Guardian of the property and affairs of a missing person in England and Wales.

This role addresses the issue where the family of a missing person must wait 7 years before they can obtain the declaration of death and in this intervening period the family must take embark on costly proceedings to get control of the missing person’s affairs.

This role has been created following the Presumption of Death Act 2013.  Guardianship will be granted by an application to the Court to anyone with a ‘sufficient’ interest and will last initially 4 years with the possibility of a second term if the person remains missing. The rights and obligations of a guardian are similar to those of a trustee or deputy.

Although the current government plans on creating the necessary legislation, it is unlikely to be passed until a new government is in place after the May 2015 Election.

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