Thornton Jones Family Law Banner Image

Services

Claudia's Law / Guardianship Missing Persons Act 2017

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.

Melanie Pickering is our missing persons law expert at Thornton Jones, Mel has much experience working on a diverse and complex range of missing persons law cases. With a compassionate and practical approach, Melanie and her supporting team can assist you with the legalities surrounding guardianship orders, guiding you smoothly through the processes.

We can offer full support with Claudia’s Law/ Guardianship Missing Persons Act legal matters, including:

  • Pre guardianship legal advice
  • Assistance with Guardianship Missing Persons Act application processes

To access expert legal support contact our Claudia’s 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.

How we can help with the Guardianship Missing Persons Act

Pre guardianship legal advice

If you considering applying to become a guardian under Claudia’s Law, our expert team can provide you with all the pre guardianship legal advice that you’ll need.

We can assess your circumstances to determine whether you are a suitable guardian for the missing person, in the eyes of the Court. We can also advise you on the steps that you can legally take to manage the missing persons finances whilst you are waiting for your guardianship application to be approved.

Assistance with guardianship applications

The role of a guardian is established with a guardianship order. The rights of the guardian will vary depending on the conditions of that specific guardianship order. Generally speaking, once appointed, the guardian will be legally responsible for matters like:

  • Handling the missing persons property affairs, this might include renting out the missing person’s property, remortgaging their property, or selling it if appropriate
  • Handling the missing persons finances, which might include investing on behalf of the missing person, dealing with their debts, or making financial gifts to their loved one’s on their behalf

As experts on UK guardianship law, we can assist you with every aspect of the guardianship order application process, addressing your concerns and queries along the way.

Frequently asked questions about the Guardianship Missing Persons Act

What is Claudia's law?

Claudia’s Law, also known as The Guardianship Missing Persons Act 2017, permits a person to become the guardian of their missing loved one’s estate, and to manage their finances.

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 a missing person to manage that person’s finances.

This law came into effect on the 31st of July 2019.

When an individual has been classified as a missing person for ninety days, or more, a suitable individual can make a guardianship application, usually a family member or a close friend.

What is the Guardianship Missing Persons Act 2017?

The Guardianship Missing Persons Act 2017 and Claudia’s Law are two different names for the same law. Both allow an individual to apply to become a guardian over the estate of a missing loved one. Once a guardianship order has been approved, the guardian can manage the person’s property and affairs while they are missing.

Can’t I just use my loved one’s Lasting Power of Attorney for Property & Finance?

In short - no.

An LPA for property and financial decisions can only be used whilst the Donor has capacity and if the Donor requests it. When a loved one is missing, they cannot request that the appropriate individual acts under the LPA, and therefore there is no authority to do so.

What are a guardian’s powers after Claudia’s law?

A guardian’s powers after Claudia’s law will vary according to the conditions of that particular guardianship order. The Court will review the details of the case and grant the powers that they deem to be appropriate in regard to the situation.

Typically a guardian’s powers will involve dealing the missing person’s property, they might rent out the individual’s home, or refinance their home.

The guardian may have the power to invest on the missing person’s behalf, manage their debts, and or ensure that the missing person’s loved one’s are financially covered, by making gifts from the missing persons’ estate.

The guardian has these powers whilst a person is known to be missing. Where it is tragically discovered that the missing person has passed away, it is then necessary to contact the Office of Public Guardian.

The guardianship is revoked once the missing person is known to have died, or under certain circumstances, where they are presumed to have died.

We appreciate that these circumstances are devastating and whilst legal assistance cannot solve the grief you and your family are experiencing, we can help to relieve you of the burden of certain legal tasks.

Who can apply to become a guardian under the Guardianship Missing Persons Act?

To become a guardian under the Guardianship Missing Persons Act, the person must be at least 18 years old, and they will need to consent to taking on this role. The individual applying for a Guardianship Order must be judged as having a ‘sufficient interest’ in the missing person’s affairs.

If you are the husband/wife, civil partner, child, sibling or parent of the missing person, then you are likely to have sufficient interest to apply, however, this will also depend on who else might 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 why you would like to be Guardian of their finances.

The Court will need to believe that the applicant is appropriate guardian for the missing person’s finances and property.

How can I be appointed as a Guardian?

You can only get permission to manage a missing person’s property and finances from the Court. There is a fixed application process which you must follow, and our solicitors can assist you throughout all of the necessary stages.

A lot of information is needed to complete the application, providing the Court with as much supporting evidence as possible. Before and during the application stages it is necessary to gather 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 they may have about the application, before they make the Guardianship Order.

What kind of information & evidence do I need to have?

The information and evidence you will need depends on the circumstances of the missing person, their family, and finances.

The application will always need personal details of the missing person including their name, date of birth, usual address etc. The Court will also expect to see evidence of them having been reported missing to the police and of the searches that have been conducted (by police and by others) in attempt to locate them.

What are the issues with Claudia’s law?

One issue with Claudia’s law is that it can be difficult to determine if the actions that the guardian takes represent what the missing person would have wanted. It can be difficult to establish what someone’s intentions are for their finances and property, particularly where they do not have a Will.

Regardless of these concerns, the Court ensures to consider many factors when appointing a guardian, to ensure that this person will act with the missing persons best interests in mind.

If you have any concerns about your role as a guardian, or the capacity of someone else to act as a guardian, our legal team can help you with this.

Contact our Claudia’s Law Solicitors

To access expert legal support contact our Claudia’s 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.