New powers for relatives of missing persons — a new role for the office of the Public Guardian

The Ministry of Justice has published a proposal that a person with a 'sufficient interest' in the property and affairs of a missing person (such as a family member) should be able to apply to the Court for the appointment of a guardian. The guardian would be appointed for up to four years and could apply for an extension of up to a further four years. The guardian would be able to take such financial steps as suspending direct debit payments for utility bills or mobile phones and making mortgage payments. As with an MCA deputy, the OPG would supervise the guardian and receive accounts. The Ministry of Justice indicated that they hoped that new legislation could be introduced after the General Election. The proposals arise from the Ministry of Justice consultation on the guardianship of property and affairs of missing persons after a vigorous campaign by the charity, Missing People.

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