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CML backs bid to manage finances of missing persons

CML backs bid to manage finances of missing persons

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) has lent its support to legislation that would allow relatives of missing people to administer their financial affairs until they are found.

Due to be considered today (21 February) by a committee of MPs, the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Bill could provide assistance to lenders who currently face legal hurdles to making administrative arrangements in a person’s absence.

Under the current law, when a person disappears his or her property is effectively left ownerless, meaning assets can dissipate and property fall into disrepair.

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The bill would create a new legal status of guardian, who would be able to administer a missing person’s financial affairs if a court considers it to be in the latter’s best interests.

The CML called on the government to provide a “quick, clear and reliable means of verifying a guardian’s right to have information - and to make decisions - about a borrower’s property and financial matters”.

According to the Council, this could be achieved by the office of the Public Guardian keeping a register of guardianship orders, similar to the register of Deputies appointed under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

The CML added that it would be helpful if third parties, including lenders, could ask the guardian to see a guardianship order.

Basing the bill’s provisions on equivalent provisions for Deputies appointed under the Mental Capacity Act would help to limit lenders’ liability if they are required to administer a mortgage on the instructions of a guardian, the CML states.

After the bill has been scrutinised by MPs, a report will be produced and the bill will proceed to its third reading in parliament.