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Solicitors for Missing People

When a person goes missing, the experience is both devastating and traumatic for their loved ones, left behind with many unanswered questions, and grave concerns for the missing person’s wellbeing. If you’re in this situation, you’re likely to be feeling emotional, and unsure of what to do next.

During these distressing times, our missing persons law solicitors can take care of the legal side of things entirely. We appreciate that legal help does not take away the pain and suffering that you and your loved ones are experiencing. However, by lessening the practical burdens of your situation, we can enable you to fully focus on taking care of yourself and your family.

At Thornton Jones, Melanie Pickering is our missing persons law expert, with much experience providing specialist legal support to clients, she has worked on a wide range of complex missing persons cases. With an empathetic and pragmatic approach, Mel and the supporting legal team can handle all of the legal practicalities for you, and explain these areas in simple terms.

The specific areas that we can assist with include:

  • Applying to become a guardian under the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017 (also known as Claudia’s Law)
  • Legal assistance with guardianship duties
  • Presumption of Death

To access expert legal support with your case, contact Thornton Jones, or complete our online enquiry form and we will be in touch.

We help clients in West Yorkshire and the surrounding areas, including from our offices in Wakefield, Osset, GarforthSherburn in Elmet or Mapplewell. Our solicitors can also assist clients across London and the rest of UK.

How we can help with missing persons law

Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017

The Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017, also called ‘Claudia’s Law’, allows a family member to become the legal guardian of their missing loved one’s estate and take care of their finances.

Once a person has been missing for ninety days at least, an appropriate individual can make the guardianship application. At Thornton Jones we can assist clients to apply to become a guardian under the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017, and answer any queries you have about the process.

Guardianship legal assistance

Our solicitors can offer advice on what you can do to handle a missing person’s affairs while you are still waiting for guardianship application approval. Once you have been appointed, we can provide legal support for people who are acting as guardians.

Under Claudia’s Law, a guardian can be responsible for making a range of decisions on behalf of a missing person. For instance, a guardian might:

  • Deal with the missing persons property: Depending on how long they’ve been missing, this might include remortgaging the missing person’s home, putting their home on the rental market, or selling the property
  • Deal with the missing persons finances: The rights of the guardian will depend on the conditions set by the guardianship, yet duties might include managing the missing persons debts, investing, or making gifts on their behalf

Please note we do not provide services to trace missing people, though we can point clients in the direction of organisations which do provide these services.

Presumption of Death

In the distressing circumstances that a person has been missing for seven years, or longer, their loved ones will be able to make an application to apply for a Declaration of Presumed Death, under the Presumption of Death Act 2013.

Though the law states that seven years must have passed to make this application, there are some circumstances where it may be possible to apply earlier, for instance, where there is substantial evidence that the person has passed away.

Once the Declaration of Presumed Death has been granted, the family members can:

  • Legally end a marriage or civil partnership
  • Apply for a Grant of Administration, allowing them to administer the estate of the person, and follow any details in their Will
  • Where a missing person did not leave a Will, their estate can be handled according to the rules of intestacy

Our missing persons law solicitors can support spouses, civil partners, parents, siblings, children, or any other person with ‘sufficient interest’ to apply for a Declaration of Presumed Death.

Frequently asked questions about missing persons law

What is classed as a missing person?

An individual is referred to as a missing person if their whereabouts cannot be determined, where the circumstances suggest that the person may be at risk of harm, the disappearance is out of character, or where their disappearance may be associated with a crime.

When a person goes missing, a case will be opened, and that person will be put onto the police missing persons list. The individual will be classed as missing until their wellbeing and location are confirmed.

How long until someone is considered missing in the UK?

Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary for 24 hours to pass before a person is considered missing. It is advisable to report someone missing as soon as you are concerned about their welfare.

What happens when you report a person missing?

When you report a person missing to the police, they will ask you questions to help them with their investigation, and to determine the level of risk. Generally speaking,

the beginning of a police investigation will include the following actions:

  • Conducting a search of the missing person’s property, and of the place where they were seen last
  • Conducting a check of the missing person’s computer, or mobile phone if possible
  • Checking the hospitals in the area to see if the missing person may have been admitted
  • Review any CCTV recording that may indicate their last known movements

The police will explore every line of enquiry which is appropriate, update you on their progress, and keep in touch should they require more information.

What to do if a loved one has gone missing?

If a loved one has gone missing, and you are concerned for their safety, you should report the case to the police.

Where you believe that a missing person is in any immediate danger, or if the person is vulnerable or a child, you are advised to call 999. If you do not believe that the person is in immediate danger, yet you cannot locate them and are concerned, you can call 101, or file a missing persons report online.

The authorities will contact you to ask questions, inform you of what they will do now, and let you know if there is anything that you can do to support the case.

What is the UK missing persons law?

The missing persons policy in the UK asserts that it is not necessary to wait for 24 hours before reporting a person missing. If someone’s location is unknown, and you are worried for their personal safety, you are advised to contact the police.

According to missing persons law, where a person has unfortunately remained missing for 90 days, an individual with ‘sufficient interest’, (for example a family member), can apply for guardianship under the Missing Persons Act.

Once appointed as a guardian, that person is legally permitted to manage the missing persons property and finances. Depending on the conditions of the guardianship, there will be certain things the guardian can or cannot do.

What is the legal status of a missing person?

There is often some confusion surrounding the legal status of missing people, for example, the misconception that going missing is an offence.

If a person is over the age of 18 years old, and they go missing, the missing person is not considered to have broken the law. Regardless, the police will need to investigate as to whether that person is at risk of harm, and to establish their location.

However, there are some situations where a person going missing is deemed to be against the law. For example, where a person is under 18 years old, or if the missing person is currently detained under the Mental Health Act.

Contact our missing persons law solicitors in West Yorkshire

To access expert legal support with your case, contact our missing persons law solicitors, or complete our online enquiry form and we will be in touch.

We help clients in West Yorkshire and the surrounding areas, including from our offices in Wakefield, Osset, GarforthSherburn in Elmet or Mapplewell. Our solicitors can also assist clients across London and the rest of UK.