Latimer Hinks Solicitors in Darlington is praising the introduction of Claudia’s Law, which will allow the family of a missing person to manage and safeguard their financial affairs.
The Guardianship (Missing Person’s) Act 2017, known as ‘Claudia’s Law’ after missing chef Claudia Lawrence, who disappeared on 18 March 2009 while travelling to work at the University of York, will be introduced from 31 July 2019. It will allow the relatives of a missing individual to apply to become that person’s guardian after they have been gone for more than 90 days, enabling families to safeguard the missing person’s assets and to act in their best interests. The Guardian will be able to control the finances and property for a four-year period, with the possibility to extend the term if required.
Prior to the introduction of Claudia’s Law, there was no mechanism to allow families of missing people to manage their affairs. In some cases this has even led to homes being repossessed due to missed mortgage payments. In order to organise their financial affairs, families have been required to declare their loved one dead, which may be inappropriate or they may not be willing to do.
Gillian Ibbotson, a solicitor at Latimer Hinks, said: “Although, thankfully, Claudia’s Law will not affect many of us, it is a huge step forward for families where someone has gone missing for a significant period. It is incredibly difficult for someone to make the decision to declare their loved one as dead, essentially giving up hope that they will ever be found. To feel pushed into making that decision by financial difficulties cannot be right.
“At Latimer Hinks, we applaud the Government for the introduction of Claudia’s Law, as it will provide much-needed help to families who are enduring a truly horrific experience. By allowing them through the new guardianship process to deal with the financial and property aspects of their loved one’s life, they can more easily cope with the situation they’re going through.”