The disappearance of a loved one is a deeply traumatic experience for their family and friends.

As well as coping with the shock and anxiety of the situation itself, as time passes more practical problems emerge – such as paying bills on behalf of the missing person.

The Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017 is intended to fill a gap in the legal process, and enables a trusted guardian to manage the financial and property affairs of a missing person. The legislation emphasises that the guardian’s touchstone must always be to act in the missing person’s best interests.

The need for a Code of Practice was established in the Act – to help applicants, guardians, families and friends of the missing person to understand what guardians can and should do – and some things they shouldn’t. It is also designed to assist those working with guardians and families – such as the financial organisations holding their accounts; and the lawyers and charities advising and supporting them.

The Code covers all stages of the guardianship process – helping people decide whether it would be the best step in their situation, everything involved in making an application to the court, and the challenges likely to be encountered once appointed.

The Code cannot cover every situation or hope to answer every question a guardian or family will have, but it does try to address what the Government  think will be the most important and common questions. They will be keeping the Code under review, and listening to the comments of those using it.

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