Without a Certificate of Presumed Death, nothing can be decided about the estate of a missing person who has been living in the country for at least one year before going missing. 

In England and Wales, you can make a claim for a Declaration of Presumed Death from the High Court if someone has been missing for 7 years.

However, you could also make a claim in a shorter period if you think they have died in a disaster. What matters most is the strength of evidence for death rather than the length of time. 

Once the court has issued the Declaration of Presumed Death, the family of the missing person can apply to the General Registry Office for a Certificate of Presumed Death which will allow them to apply for probate. This means that the property, money and other belongings of the missing person can be administered. 

This certificate can be used as evidence of death in the same way as a Death Certificate. It also ends any marriage or civil partnership. Appeals can made within 21 days of the declaration being issued unless the court has specified a different time period. 

If the missing person does not have a Will, then the closest living relative of the missing person would have to apply for a grant of letters of administration in order to deal with the missing person’s assets.


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