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New law targets missing persons’ finances

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22/10/2012
New laws to help family members arrange the financial affairs of missing people is one step closer, as experts gather at the House of Commons this week.

Charities, families and lawyers have been campaigning for the Government to introduce a ‘certificate of presumed death’ in England and Wales.

As it stands, there is no way of family members to register the death of a missing person in the absence of a body.

The lack of a death certificate can make practical issues like selling property, dissolving a marriage, claiming life insurance and pension a long drawn out processes.

Kirsten Bennett, solicitor at Lund Bennett Law, said: “We’ve been campaigning for many years for the introduction of this legislation which would help people when a family member goes missing and enable them to deal with the day to day finances of their missing relative.

“Alongside the Government and opposition parties we’re looking to get this enacted ready for the start of the next Parliament.”
There is a common misconception that if a person has been missing for over 7 years, they are presumed dead, however this is not incorporated in to written law.

The campaign to introduce the law has now been escalated through Parliament and taken up by John Glen MP who sponsored the Presumption of Death Bill, Baroness Kramer Sir Alan Beith MP and the charity Missing People UK.

According to Missing People UK, more than 250,000 people a year go missing or run away from home in the UK.

Bennett added: “The meeting happens at a crucial time: the second reading of John Glen MP’s Presumption of Death Bill will take place on Friday 2 November, and presents the Government with an opportunity to create a timetable to progress the commitment to reform made in its response to the Justice Committee report on this topic.”

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