Sally Hamwee explains why she’s introducing her Missing Persons Guardianship Bill

Yesterday, Sally Hamwee introduced her Private Members’ Bill which would enable guardianship orders to be made for missing people so that their affairs could be managed.

Earlier she wrote for the Missing People website:

With no legal system for managing a missing person’s affairs, they can fall into disarray with disconcerting speed.  Salaries may stop being paid into a bank account, but direct debits, mortgage payments and rent will continue to be paid out – until the funds run out.  However sympathetic a bank may be, it needs the signature of its account holder to change arrangements. Some may even regard themselves as unable to provide information.

Once you grasp the legal position, you can begin to see the practical impact.  You can’t use the missing person’s money to pay his rent and other bills.   You can’t sell a house which is in your and your missing husband’s joint names, but because your family’s circumstances have changed neither can you afford the mortgage.

And once you see the practical impact, you begin to get some idea of the emotional effect.  A wife explained that she went overnight “from being a couple and having two wages to … becoming a single mum who could only work part time, with a mortgage and bills to pay…. my husband was missing, and that in itself was traumatic enough, but there was still the everyday living to do as well.”  A mother put it, “I know it sounds so petty in the great scheme of what’s happened, but I didn’t want my son’s account to go overdrawn.  It mattered so much to me.”

Guardianship would enable the families of missing people to manage their property and affairs.  It would be welcome to financial institutions; they need legal certainty.  It would be a minimal cost to the public purse.  It could benefit thousands of families.

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  • Sadie Smith 16th Jun '16 - 8:13am

    What a sensible proposal from Sally.

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