A break through for Claudia’s Law

For anyone suffering from news of a disappeared loved one, it is made even harder that any family, friends or even spouses are unable to take over any of their legal affairs or act on their behalf. However, that may be about to change.

As the law currently stands, families such as siblings, parents or spouses, have no legal right to step in and manage the affairs of any missing persons. This includes things like access to bank accounts to ensure mortgage or bill payments are made. It can also include any guardianship of children or any wishes relating to property.

The problem is, due to a person being “missing” there has been much consultation surrounding how an individual should be treated in those circumstances. Whilst some say, if a person is deceased, the law is much clearer, which is particularly true if the person has a Will or Lasting Power of Attorney, there is lack of clarity surrounding a missing person, adding further emotional turmoil for the family left behind.

Finally, the news broke over the weekend that a change in the law might be about to allow families to take over the missing person’s affairs after 90 days. “Claudia’s Law”, which was named after 35 year old Claudia Lawrence who went missing in York in 2009, will come into effect from 31 July this year.

Claudia’s Law was set up by Claudia’s father, Peter Lawrence, who has long been campaigning for the change. It will be officially known as the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act, and establishes a new legal mechanism to deal with the property and financial affairs of a loved one. It is thought this new law will be a great help to thousands of families as it will enable a guardian to take over the finances of the missing person, cancel any direct debits and manage any rent or mortgage payments.

We will be closely following the developments of Claudia’s Law, but if you have been affected by a family member’s disappearance and you would like some legal advice, contact the Private Client team at Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.

Victoria Evans

Victoria Evans

Senior Associate Solicitor

Tel: +44 (0) 1483 411512

Office: Godalming Office

Email: v.evans@downslaw.co.uk