When a loved one is missing, their close family and friends are of course going through an incredibly distressing time. When emotions are running high, and you’re deeply concerned for someone’s safety, arranging legal practicalities is naturally the last thing on your mind.
At Thornton Jones our expert solicitors can manage the necessary legal tasks, including assisting you to apply for a guardianship order under Claudia’s Law, also known as the Guardianship Missing Persons Act. We can offer detailed guidance, and complete necessary steps for you, so that you can look after your own wellbeing, and that of your loved ones.
What is Claudia’s Law?
Claudia’s Law is the common name for the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017.
It is known as Claudia’s Law because of the prominent case of Claudia Lawrence who went missing in 2009. Her father campaigned for a law which would allow the family of missing people to manage that person’s finances
This law came into effect on the 31st of July 2019.
Can I Use My Loved-One’s Property & Finance Lasting Power of Attorney To Care For Their Property And Finances If They Are Missing?
Family members may think to ask this in the first instance. In short, the answer is no.
When someone goes missing you may think that you are able to manage the missing persons' property and financial matters if they have a Property and Finance Lasting Power of Attorney in place.
An Attorney is only able to use a Property & Finance Lasting Power of Attorney whilst the Donor has capacity and only if the Donor requests it. An Attorney can make decisions if the Donor loses mental capacity. As your loved one is missing, they are unable to provide the consent that you need in order to act under the Lasting Power of Attorney and therefore you have no authority to do so.
In addition, there is no evidence that they have lost capacity.
Who Can Apply For Guardianship of a Missing Person?
Anyone can apply for a Guardianship Order, but they must have “sufficient interest” in the missing person’s affairs.
If you are the husband or wife, civil partner, child, sibling, or parent of the missing person, then you are likely to have sufficient interest to apply. whether you are granted Guardianship however may depend on depend on anyone else who might apply and have an interest.
If you are not one of the above relatives, then you may still have sufficient interest, depending on your relationship to the client, and what reason you have for wanting to be Guardian of their finances.
How Can I Be Appointed As A Guardian For A Missing Person?
You can only get permission to manage a missing person’s property and finances from the Court. There is a fixed process for making the application, and we can help you at all stages of this.
We need a lot of information to complete the application and give the Court as much supporting evidence as possible, so you’ll need to gather together as much information as you can about the missing person’s finances, family, and general circumstances.
Once the application has been made, there will often be a Court hearing to allow the judge to ask any questions that they may have about the application, before they make the Guardianship Order.
What Kind Of Information And Evidence Do I Need To Have To Apply To Become A Guardian For A Missing Person?
The information and evidence you will need depends on the circumstances of the missing person and their family and finances.
The application will always need personal details of the missing person such as name, date of birth, address etc. but the Court will also expect to see evidence of them having been reported missing to the police and of the searches that have been carried out (by the police and by others) to try and locate them.
Should you find yourself in this situation, then please feel free to contact our Private Client team who will be able to assist you further.
☎️ Call our Wakefield office on 01924 290 029
☎️ Call our Garforth office on 0113 246 4423
☎️ Call our Sherburn in Elmet office on 01977 350 500
☎️ Call our Mapplewell office on 01226 339 009
☎️ Call our Ossett office on 01924 586 466
About Melanie Pickering
Melanie joined Thornton Jones Solicitors in November 2021 having worked in Law since 2004 occupying various positions from junior posts through to becoming a fully qualified solicitor.
In 2009 Mel completed her studies at law school and subsequently completed her training contract and in October 2017 qualified as a solicitor specialising in Private Client, Contentious Probate and Missing Persons Law. Mel admits that she “loves Law because it’s always changing and there’s always something new to learn”.
Outside of work, Mel lives with her husband and cat. She is a keen supporter of Cancer Research UK ‘Race for Life’ having taken part every year since 2010 and raising much needed funds in the process.
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