New law will enable relatives to obtain guardianship order over missing persons’ affairs

A new law expected to be enacted soon after the General Election will enable any person with a ‘sufficient interest’ in a missing person’s property to apply to a Court for a ‘guardianship order’ over that person’s affairs.

The appointed guardian will be granted powers and duties similar to those of a trustee or deputy, which will enable them to act in the best interests of the missing person, subject to supervision by the Office of the Public Guardian.

The news comes after the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017 received Royal Assent on 27 April 2017.

However, the commencement date for the application of the Act has been postponed until after the General Election.

According to reports, the Act has all-party support and is highly likely to be enacted in the next Parliament regardless of the Election result on 8 June.

Once introduced, the Act will allow for relatives of a missing person either domiciled or habitually resident in England or Wales to obtain a guardianship order over their affairs which will last a period of four years.

After that time, however, the guardian will be able to apply for a second term if the missing person has still not been found.

The existing Government has said that it intends to prepare the necessary primary and secondary legislation as quickly as possible.

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Nigel is the Managing Partner and Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution in the London office of Mackrell Turner Garrett.