What happens if a person goes missing and is presumed dead? Apart from the emotional issues, dealing with their property and personal affairs can be problematic and legally complex.
However, from October 1st 2014 the remaining provisions of the Presumption of Death Act 2013 come into effect which will introduce the presumption of death procedure in England and Wales. Presumption of Death Certificates will be able to be issued. They will be the equivalent to Death Certificates and can be applied for by an ‘interested party’ such as a close relative of the missing person. There must also be a connection between the missing person and with England and Wales: for example the missing person must have been domiciled in England and Wales on the date last known to be alive or habitually resident in England and Wales for the preceding year.
The Act also provides for what should happen if further and different information is later found or if the person is found alive.
The declaration of death will be effective for all purposes, for instance it will automatically dissolve a marriage or civil partnership.
The legislation is to be welcomed as it creates a simpler legal framework to enable those left behind to better deal with the property and affairs of a loved one who has gone missing and is presumed dead.