Home > Special Circumstances > Presumed Death Following a Disappearance

Presumed Death Following a Disappearance

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 8 May 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Death Presumed Death Presumption Of

Over 200,000 people are reported as missing each year in the UK, and a number of these missing persons remain so for an extended period of time. For families, the time an individual is missing can be incredibly emotional with fears that their loved one is dead battling with hope that (s)he is still alive and confusion about why (s)he would not get in touch. In general it takes at least seven years for a missing person to be declared presumed dead in the UK, though the legalities governing such a declaration differ in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. When death is declared, arranging for memorials for the presumed dead can help families and friends achieve closure.

Importance of Presumption of Death

Even when missing persons are listed as “”missing, presumed dead” this does not mean that they are automatically legally considered dead. On the contrary, it may simply be a classification that this person is still missing. For a legal presumption of death, a certificate or order of such must be issued. Having someone declared legally presumed dead when there is nobody can be tough, but it is important for a number of reasons. Unfreezing and settling a person’s assets and estates, allowing for inheritances, closing a person’s accounts, allowing for the dissolution of a marriage, claiming benefits and receiving insurance payments may all hinge on the legal declaration of a missing person’s presumed death. Emotionally, many family members and friends also find that they live in limbo until a presumed death is legally declared and that a declaration of presumed death is important to ending this uncertain state.

Legalities of Presumption of Death

In Scotland, the Presumption of Death (Scotland) Act, 1977 governs the procedures of a legal declaration of presumed death following disappearance. In Northern Ireland, the Presumption of Death Bill was passed in 2009 which allows the High Court to declare a missing person presumed dead and the presumed death to be recorded in a Register of Presumed Deaths with a certificate of presumed death issued to family. In England and Wales there is no single procedure for the declaration of a presumed death and the issuance of a Presumption of Death Order. Currently the Family Division of the High Court deals with presumptions of death and it falls to the missing person’s family to bring proceedings and provide evidence of the likelihood of death. Investigations into the disappearance and presumed death of an individual are carried out at cost to the missing person’s estate. If the court is satisfied that a missing person has died then a Presumption of Death Order may be granted. Yet even with a Presumption of Death Order a marriage may not be dissolved, so further proceedings may need to be made. When a person has been declared legally presumed dead, that person’s legal status may then be considered “death in absentia”.

Memorials for Those Presumed Dead

Even when there is no body recovered, hosting a memorial service can be incredibly important for family members hoping to achieve some measure of peace with the disappearance of a loved one from their lives. Plaques, statues and benches are all popular choices for memorial items and give loved ones something tangible to visit when they wish to remember their loved ones. Working with a member of the clergy, many families hold religious memorial services to say goodbye while other families may instead choose to hold more secular services at a location that held meaning to their loved one. Some families may also choose to bury something related to their loved on at the memorial site, for example a frame photograph or favourite item (flag, book, stuffed animal, etc). Memorial services are an important part of celebrating someone’s life and so flowers, music and speeches are all appropriate.

Declaring a presumed death following a disappearance can be a complicated, confusing, emotional process. Understanding the importance of a presumption of death, the legalities of a presumption of death and memorials for those presumed dead is important for those faced with this unusual situation.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
I lost my mother in may 2007 to a long illness then in January 2008 my dad past away he had several strokes, he was 69 then he was in the army for a sort time he use to get a cheque every Christmas and the paid his TV licence.after my dàd died my uncle came to see me with forms he said can you sign this form so I can get you all your dads money for you I can hardly right and read so I did I still was greavein over my mother so the next thing he send a family member of his and give me 1000 pounds I said wots this the she worked away and said its some of your dad money.me and my dad always went abroad 2to3 times a year he never wasted his money he even work on the oil rigs at one point.he was a great man now he hasn't got a gravestone I'm so depressed about this I was hoping for any help or information you confirm give me I feel bad that my dad has no headstone and I couldn't afford one its so sad he was a great man
polly - 8-May-15 @ 12:10 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Gilly
    Re: Inheriting Property
    Hi my mum has not long passed away and in her will she left me everything including the house which I lived in as well as her carer. I have…
    27 May 2017
  • FacingBereavement
    Re: What if There is No Will?
    Eldest.child - Your Question:Hi my mom died in 2009, I moved out of family home when I started my own family and my youngest brother…
    26 May 2017
  • Scared
    Re: Inheriting Property
    I lived with my grandmother for several years before she passed now the hospital wants to sell the house to pay bills that me and my whole…
    26 May 2017
  • Eldest.child
    Re: What if There is No Will?
    Hi my mom died in 2009, I moved out of family home when I started my own family and my youngest brother also moved out years ago, my…
    24 May 2017
  • Cat
    Re: The Stages of Grief
    My dad just passed away 3 week ago, I was with him when he died. Everyone asks how I feel and I feel nothing! I thought that sorting funeral…
    23 May 2017
  • FacingBereavement
    Re: What if There is No Will?
    Jlaura - Your Question:My mam has passed away and my step dad, which had left my mam and had been having an affair, but they are still…
    23 May 2017
  • Beez84
    Re: Inheriting Property
    My father recently passed away and he owned a house with his partner not married he payed towards the mortgage each month and paid the deposit…
    22 May 2017
  • Beez84
    Re: Inheriting Property
    Hi My dad has just passed away and he lived with his partner not married and they owned a house but his name was not ok the mortgage but he…
    22 May 2017
  • FacingBereavement
    Re: How Grief Affects Your Relationships
    Seanda - Your Question:My mom died in a very tragic car accident March 20th my husband really dont understand how I feel…
    22 May 2017
  • Jlaura
    Re: What if There is No Will?
    My mam has passed away and my step dad, which had left my mam and had been having an affair, but they are still married he is next of…
    22 May 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the FacingBereavement website. Please read our Disclaimer.