The Presumption of Death Act is a new piece of legislation which offers families with missing loved ones the chance for closure. It has been brought to the headlines recently with the application for a presumtion of death certicificate by Lord Lucan’s son, 42 years after he went missing without a trace. 

Tasoula Addison, Associate Solicitor in Gorvins’ Wills, Trusts and Probate team, provided her comments to the The Independent on Sunday to provide her expertise on the necessary legal process to resolve a missing person’s affairs. The new Act provides a resolution for families, enabling affairs to be dealth with effectively and efficiently, saving years and years of potential heartache and financial problems.

Tasoula said, “There are three different ways the court will make an order [for a Presumption of Death Certificate]. Either they are satisfied the missing person has died on a specific day – for example, if they were seen jumping into a river but the body wasn’t found. This day is taken as the date of presumed death.

“Alternatively, the court is satisfied the person has died but the date is uncertain, in which case the date of presumed death will be taken as the final day of the period in which the missing person is believed to have died.

“Or it can be that the court is not satisfied that the person has died, but they have not been known to be alive for at least seven years”.

Tasoula continued, “In this case, the date of presumed death will be seven years starting from the day after the date the missing person was last known to be alive. Previously if your spouse had gone missing and you thought they had died, you could ask for your marriage to be dissolved and, using a separate procedure, you could ask for probate; there were several different routes you’d have to go down.

“A presumption of death certificate can be used just like a standard death certificate.”

You can read the full Independent on Sunday article by Felicity Hannah here: ‘Resolution at last for the families of the vanished’. 

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