Claudia’s Law comes into force

Find out how Claudia’s Law, officially known as Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017, will help ease the burden of the families of a missing person.

Claudia Lawrence

You may remember the case of Claudia Lawrence who went missing in York in 2009. Whilst the police investigated her disappearance as a suspected murder, no actual proof of death has ever been found. This makes it extremely difficult for her family both emotionally and on a practical basis.

Unfortunately, there are other families that have encountered the same problems as Claudia’s family. Since her disappearance, Claudia’s father, Peter Lawrence, has been campaigning for a change in the law to allow a reduced burden on families that are already going through an emotional and difficult time.

Managing Someone Else’s Affairs

During life a person can deal with someone else’s personal affairs including finances, property and health decisions if they have been appointed as an Attorney or a Deputy for that person.

On death those appointed as Executor or Administrator can deal with the deceased’s matters including assets, liabilities and general administration.

Unfortunately, previously there has never been anything in place that allowed someone to deal with a person’s affairs in circumstances where there was no evidence of death but no appointment as an Attorney or Deputy had been made either, until now.

Claudia’s Law Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017

On 31st July 2019 Claudia’s Law, officially known as Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017, came into force. It is designed to help the family of missing persons to deal with the administrative matters of their loved one’s disappearance.

The law creates a new legal status of a guardian of the affairs of a missing person, allowing the guardian to act in their best interests after the person has been missing for 90 days or more.
Under the law, ‘missing people’ will include:
• people who have gone missing in the UK and abroad;
• victims of kidnap and hostage; and
• people in prison abroad who cannot communicate decisions about their property and financial affairs.

A formal application for guardianship will need to be made to the High Court and once appointed, the guardian will be able to deal with the day to day administration of the missing person’s financial affairs.

If you would like more information about this new law or to discuss managing someone’s affairs generally please contact either Rowena or Emma in the Life Planning Department.

Emma Hartley
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