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Declarations of Presumed Death

When a person goes missing, and the circumstances tragically indicate that they have passed away, the experience is utterly devastating for their family and friends. When you’ve lost someone in such dreadful circumstances, and are grieving them, arranging the necessary legal tasks is likely to feel like an overwhelming burden.

At this truly awful time, our specialist solicitors can manage the legal practicalities for you, so that you have the time and space to focus on your wellbeing and look after your family. We can help with declarations of presumed death, ensuring that your loved one’s death is legally registered, so that you can administer their estate as they would have wanted.

We can offer full support with presumption of death matters, including:

  • Applying for a Declaration of Presumed Death
  • Notifying the Office of Public Guardian
  • Estate administration legal support

To access compassionate legal support from our experts, 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 Declaration of Presumed Death

Applying for a Declaration of Presumed Death

In the terrible circumstances that a person has gone missing, and has remained so for seven years at least, their loved ones will be able to apply for a Declaration of Presumed Death Certificate under the Presumption of Death Act.

Though the law states that 7 years must pass for a missing person to be presumed dead, in some situations, it may be possible to apply for a declaration of death earlier. For example, where there is substantial evidence that the person has died.

Once the Declaration of Presumed Death has been obtained, the appropriate person can then obtain a Grant of Representation and administer the estate of the deceased following instructions in the deceased person’s Will if they have one, or according to intestacy rules where they do not.

We understand that these circumstances are truly distressing and are committed to providing an empathetic and practical approach, taking the legal duties off your hands, so that you can focus on your health, and take care of those close to you.

Office of Public Guardian

When a missing person passes away, it is necessary to inform the Office of the Public Guardian. This should be done by the missing person’s guardian or another appropriate person, such as a family member or the Will executor.

Where a missing person is presumed dead, the existing guardianship order is then revoked. Once the Office of Public Guardian has been informed of the death, they will update their guardian’s register accordingly.

Our solicitors can provide guidance on notifying the Office of Public Guardian, explain what the next legal stages are, and answer any questions you have.

Estate administration legal support

On obtaining a presumption of death certificate, the missing person is then legally declared dead. Though the idea is naturally incredibly upsetting, getting the right documentation in order is necessary to administer a person’s estate, either according to their Will, or under intestacy rules.

We can provide sensitive legal help to those who are responsible for estate administration, taking care of many important matters on your behalf, and offering detailed guidance, to lessen the burden at this traumatic time.

Frequently asked questions

How long after missing you are presumed dead?

Missing people are presumed to be dead if they have been missing for seven years, and where there has been no evidence to indicate that the individual could still be alive.

If a person has been missing for 7 years, yet there have been signs that the person could still be alive, declarations of presumed death are not granted by the Court.

Where a person has been missing for less than 7 years, but there is significant evidence that suggests they have passed away, the Court may decide that the person can legally be declared dead, yet this will largely depend on the case.

What factors will the court consider before granting a presumption of death order?

When a person has been missing for seven years, and a loved one applies for a Declaration of Presumed Death Certificate, the Court will consider various factors before legally declaring them dead.

They will review the circumstances and evidence surrounding their disappearance to make an assessment about whether they may still be alive. If there has been any indication that they may still be alive, the Court will not grant the certificate.

Who can apply for declarations of presumed death?

If someone has been missing for 7 years or more, their family members will be able to apply for a presumption of death certificate. For example, a child, sibling, parent, civil partner or spouse of the missing person who is presumed deceased.

How do you apply for a declaration of presumed death?

If you would like to apply for a declaration of presumed death, you will need to make a claim using form N208, which can be found on the UK Gov website.

It is advisable to have a solicitor help you with the application, to relieve the stress and burden, explain the legalities, and ensure that the process is without setbacks.

Talk to our sensitive missing persons law experts

To access compassionate and expert legal support, 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 the UK.