Families of missing people could be given guardian status
2nd Sep 2014
The Ministry of Justice are consulting on plans that could give the families of missing people guardian status.
The move would allow families to deal with the financial and legal affairs of the missing person, including paying bills and making mortgage payments.
Being considered by Justice Minister, Lord Faulks QC, the proposal would mean that after a person has been missing for 90 days or more, a family member could apply for guardianship. This would last for up to four years, with the possibility of extending the period for a further four years.
The guardian would hold the authority to act on behalf of the missing person, but the court will have the ability to impose any limits.
If put into place, the guardian will be required to show that they are acting in the best interests of the missing person, and so will have to report to a supervisory body with details of their actions.
Lord Faulks QC stated that ‘the sudden disappearance of a loved one’ was a ‘traumatic event’ for anyone, and that as well as the emotional problems caused, the ‘practical consequences’ of a person going missing often only add to the issue. Consequently, the possibility of such action has been welcomed by missing persons groups, who have been campaigning for this.
The consultation is open until 18 November, and is considering the circumstances in which guardians should be appointed, what their role and duties should include, how they should be supervised, and the impact the move would make.
The proposals follow the new certificates of presumed death that can be applied for from 1 October 2014 by relatives. These will act as equivalents to death certificates, when a missing person is presumed dead, and will allow family members to resolve a missing person’s affairs.