Our expert local solicitors at MG Legal discuss The Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017 and the powers it gives to a guardian.
Posted on 16th June 2021
Our expert local solicitors near you discuss Claudia’s Law and the powers that it gives to Guardians in the case of a missing person.
At MG Legal, we are all too aware of the difficulties that people face trying to deal with their loved one’s affairs when their loved one is still living and has capacity, but just wants to delegate their tasks for ease. However, the struggle is worse when the loved one has lost capacity, and needs someone to take over their affairs, even when that person has been informally assisting them for months or years. This is where Lasting Powers of Attorney or Deputyship Applications come in. You can read more about Lasting Powers of Attorney,
However, what is the process when a person has gone missing? Our expert local solicitors near you explain below.
What is the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017?
Unofficially known as Claudia’s Law, the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017, came into force on 31 st July 2019. Named after 35-year-old Claudia Lawrence, a chef in York who went missing in 2009, the law allows those whose relatives have gone missing to apply to manage their affairs sooner than the previously statute-set 7 years.
The change was driven by Claudia’s father, Peter Lawrence OBE, MP Kevin Hollinrake and the charity, Missing People, as before this managing the affairs of a loved one before 7 years were up was causing great emotional stress and burden to their families. Such stressors could include insolvency applications, mortgage repossessions and creditors chasing for payment of the person’s usual bills.
What changes were introduced by the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017?
Under Claudia’s Law, if a person is missing for 90 days or more, a guardian can be appointed to manage their financial affairs, including:
Contacting the missing person’s bank and stopping the account
Payment of outstanding bills
Manage the person’s outgoings for their family (i.e. if they were supporting children)
Enter into deeds on behalf of the missing person
Generally, with agreement from the Office of the Public Guardian, the guardian can continue to manage the person’s affairs for a further 4 years, or sometimes longer. The application must be made to the Chancery or Family division of the High Court, and there must be sufficient supporting evidence supplied for the Court to grant the application.
What are the potential issues with Claudia’s Law?
Some common issues that people may raise include whether the person would have wanted that specific guardian to take over the management of their affairs, whether they would have been happy with how the guardian was managing their affairs and whether 90 days is long enough to wait until action is taken?
The law goes a long way to address such concerns, with the Court assessing many factors before agreeing to make such an Order, including the relationship between the applicant and the missing person, the potential guardian’s suitability and potential conflicts between the missing person and the potential guardian.
The Court also has the power to revoke any Order they may without another application being made, such as if they believe that it’s no longer in the person’s best interests for the Order to remain in place.
Can MG Legal, Solicitors near me, help?
Our team are always on hand to provide advice and assistance wherever we can to help you manage your loved one's affairs. Claudia’s Law applications are rare currently.
However, if you need to discuss Lasting Powers of Attorney or Deputyship Applications, our team are on hand to help. Our team would always advise that if you own a property, have your own bank account or assets in your sole name, you should consider whether you need a Lasting Power of Attorney.
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