Guardianship of the property and affairs of missing persons

Closed 18 Nov 2014

Opened 27 Aug 2014

Results updated 2 Apr 2015

We received 40 responses to the Guardianship of the Property and Affairs of Missing Persons consultation. The response was overwhelmingly positive both to the principle of guardianship and the provisional proposals for implementing it.

Having considered the responses, the government has decided to proceed with the creation of the new legal role and status of guardian of the property and affairs of a missing person.

The key features of the proposed scheme will be:

  • a guardian will be required to act in the best interests of the missing person and in this respect will be subject to duties similar to those of a trustee
  • the guardian will be supervised by the Office of the Public Guardian and will be required to file accounts in much the same way as a Deputy appointed under the Mental Capacity Act 2005
  • a guardian will be appointed by a court on application by a person with a sufficient interest in the property and affairs of the missing person
  • the appointment will be for a period of up to 4 years with the possibility of applying for an extension for up to another 4 years.

The consultation response paper contains a summary of the responses received and our response to the points raised. We also set out how we propose to develop the proposals.




When a person goes missing, there is currently no legal mechanism for another person to manage his or her affairs during his or her absence. This can lead to the dissipation of the missing person’s assets (for example, through uncancellable Direct Debits) and the deterioration or loss of assets (for example, through lack of maintenance or failure to meet financial obligations, such as mortgage payments).

For the same reason the disappearance can deprive dependants of the support they need (and have been accustomed to receive) from the missing person.

This consultation asks whether there ought to be a new legal mechanism by which a guardian could be appointed to act on behalf and in the best interests of a person who has gone missing. 

This consultation also asks, if a new system of guardianship of the property and affairs of missing persons is created, what the process and terms of such an appointment should be. In particular it seeks views on:

  • how a guardian should be appointed and in what circumstances
  • what the role, duties and terms of appointment of a guardian should be
  • how guardians should be supervised and held accountable
  • the costs, benefits and equalities impacts of introducing guardianship 


  • Businesses
  • Citizens
  • Voluntary organisations
  • Local authorities
  • Legal professionals
  • Academics


  • Courts
  • Property
  • Law
  • Probate