Missing People 

Sarah Young has acted for a number of families of missing people and is sensitive to the very difficult issues that arise in these cases.

For free initial advice please contact us on 0843 289 4640 or fill in our online contact form to arrange an initial consultation.

It is a shocking fact that every year around 250,000 people are reported missing across the United Kingdom.  A minority remain missing for weeks, months or years, leaving their families in an agonising limbo.

One of the most difficult challenges for families to face is the idea that they may never know what has happened to their relative – the emotional burden can be crippling.  On top of this, often families also have to deal with the financial and legal problems that arise out of the disappearance.  These problems can be particularly difficult if the family depends on the missing person financially or shares assets or liabilities with them, such as a mortgage.

The specific issues that families face will be different in each case and much will depend on how long their relative has been missing for, the circumstances of the disappearance and any financial or legal connection they have to them.

Until recently there has been no single “presumption of death” court process for families to access, once they accept that their loved one is not likely to return.

Many people are familiar with the so called “7 year rule” which says that for up to 7 years after a person has last been seen, the court presumes that they are still alive.  However this rule does not mean that there is any automatic presumption of death after 7 years –  and in fact it has long been possible to make applications to the court before 7 years have passed depending on the circumstances of the case (for example after the 2004 tsunami).

Because the law in this area was so unclear there has been a campaign led by Missing People to introduce a unified law on the presumption of death (which already exists in Northern Ireland and Scotland).  The Presumption of Death Act 2013 was passed in England and Wales on 27th March 2013 and CAME into force in October 2014. It creates a new court procedure which can lead to the issue of a certificate of presumed death. This should alleviate some of the difficulties caused by the previously complex system.  The Act creates a simpler legal framework to ensure that bereaved people can better deal with the property and affairs of a loved one who has gone missing and is presumed dead.

Following years of campaigning by the charity Missing People, a new law has come into force to help the families of a missing person to manage their financial and legal affairs in the hope that they may one day return.  The Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017 received Royal Assent on 27th April 2017.  The Act introduces a process for someone to apply to the court for an order appointing a guardian in respect of some or all of a missing person’s property/financial affairs.  A Guardianship Order will not be made unless the person has been missing for at least 90 days (unless there is an urgent need for an order) and if a guardian is appointed they must act in the best interests of the missing person (in a similar way to an attorney who acts for a person who lacks mental capacity).  If an order is made, a guardian will be appointed for an initial 4 year period.  This new law is extremely welcome and will hopefully help to prevent frustrating and distressing situations arising where, for example, a missing person’s property has been repossessed because no one has had the legal authority to prevent it.

For help with applying for a Guardianship Order please contact Sarah Young

Explore the issues when someone goes missing

A radio 4 play called Ambiguous Loss  (click here to be directed to episode 1 of 3) explores the issues that arise when someone goes missing. Written with the support of the charity Missing People, it’s a story of the family left behind.

Sarah Young has published several news articles on the subject of missing people:

Sarah Young, Missing Person Specialist Solicitor 

What our clients say:

  • Thank you so much for what you have done. I’m still in turmoil and can’t really believe that worry will soon be gone. The whole trauma of the situation has at times been impossible to cope with. I don’t really know how I’ve coped – good friends have been amazing. My health has suffered…and I feel about ten years older. Thank god your name was on the internet. I phoned the law society, the citizens advice centre, about twenty solicitors, the Procurator Fiscal in Scotland and the coroners office local to me but nobody could help the trauma I was in. Nobody could help until I phoned your office. I was treated with kindness and given hope that there was something I could do. I’m so thankful for that –  at least now I can try and make some sort of sense of everything and try to grieve for my amazing wonderful husband who meant the world to me. I miss him more than words can say. Thank you again Sarah for giving me hope when no one else could.

  • The case concluded as hoped.  I was at all times treated with courtesy, consideration and empathy by Sarah Young who was at all times professional yet approachable in all matters relating to a very complex case. I personally thank her on behalf of myself and children for the way she conducted my case which brought great relief and a most satisfactory conclusion and will help us move forward.

  • I would like to thank you both for your continued support through a difficult process. It has been a very frustrating time due to other people letting us down, mainly the Police  – but you have both persisted and helped to guide me through those difficult times. I wish you both all the best for the future and would have no hesitation in recommending you to others.

  • I would like to say a sincere thank you so very much for all your help in my recent troubles… I would not and will not hesitate to use you again if it was needed. Once again thank you Sarah for everything, especially whilst I was dealing with the death of my mother at the time. It was a pleasure to have met you, and have your guidance. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  • I wanted to say a big thank you for all you have done for me and my family. Getting the Presumption of Death order means so much… hopefully this order will let me put the things in place for my peace of mind for my own future and eventually that of our children. I hope that this new act will help many genuine people who like myself have been placed in an impossible position through no fault of their own. You can be proud that you have played a big part in the preparation and work to allow me to have this order granted so l shall be eternally grateful that your name was put forward…

  • Thank you for …..the brilliant job you did for me and my family. Forever grateful

    Missing Persons Client Saturday 20 September 2014
  • Really happy that they have took [my husband’s] name off the mortgage, I burst into tears when they told me, I am finally free and can look to putting the house on the market now and moving on with my life and I have you to thank for that. When J’s husband went missing in January 2012 leaving a suicide note in his car, she was devastated.  His body was never found.  J fell into arrears with her mortgage which was in joint names and was facing repossession.  Sarah Young of Ridley & Hall negotiated with the mortgagor and obtained a leave to swear death order for J which enabled her to take out a grant of probate.  This gave her the right to benefit from her husband’s life insurance policy and sell the home.”

  • I have referred a number of contentious probate clients to Sarah and have found her to be professional, personable and extremely able. The clients in question have always been extremely satisfied with the work that Sarah has done for them. I would heartily recommend her to anyone seeking advice in this area.

    Wednesday 16 May 2012
  • After the death of my Mother I had the responsibility of carrying out the job as Executor of her Estate.  This was a very daunting task, as unfortunately, there were major family issues concerning my mother’s Will. I appointed Sarah Young from Ridley & Hall Solicitors to act as my Legal Representative and the advice and support that was given to me was always professional and well thought through and I felt that a lot of the pressure that was put on me was removed by Sarah. I found her extremely diligent, she left no stone unturned and was exacting in her follow up to any issues that were raised.  My phone calls were always answered or if she was busy I would always receive a prompt call back.  Sarah made me feel as though, whatever I asked, nothing was too trivial or too much trouble and I felt that whatever time of day I phoned I was treated, on every occasion, as an important client. I would have no hesitation in recommending Sarah to any person seeking reliable, caring and professional representation. Sarah ALWAYS delivered what she promised.

    Wednesday 26 January 2011
  • My first meeting with Sarah  Young was really great. She seemed to care about my situation and gave good advice on what we should expect throughout our case. My case has now come to an end thanks to Sarah. I would highly recommend her services to others in similar situations.

    Wednesday 22nd June 2016
  • I cannot thank Ridley & Hall enough. I have been treated with empathy, care and understanding during the the most traumatic time of my life, to lose my husband in such a horrific way and then the thought I could have  lost my home as well is trauma beyond belief.   Thank-You Sarah.

    Tuesday 12th July 2016
  • "My husband Jakub went missing on 2nd January 2012, I was beside myself and had no idea how to deal with the situation. The Missing Persons Bureau gave me a couple of names of some solicitors who specialised in this field, so I rang them and I instantly took a liking to Sarah.  When we first spoke she was very sympathetic to my situation and assured me that she would do her utmost to get everything sorted. At the time I was working 3 jobs to try an keep my mortgage payments going, but unfortunately I wasn't able to meet them and started to get in arrears with my mortgage, and the mortgage company started re-possessing proceedings.  Having to deal with all the financial problems let alone my emotional problems was starting to take it's toll on me, but Sarah came to the rescue and managed to liaise with the mortgage company and she eventually saved my house so I didn't become homeless. We came upon many obstructions during the 3 1/2 years that Sarah and her team worked on my case but Sarah and her PA Tracey were always positive that we would get everything resolved. There were days that I would ring either Sarah or Tracey in tears because I didn't think I could cope anymore and they were so brilliant with me, telling me that everything will be alright in the end, and they were right, every problem has been sorted. I cannot express my thanks enough.  Sarah and Tracey are so approachable and treated me more like a friend rather than a client, which is what you need when you are going through this horrific experience. So once again, thank you Sarah, Tracey and all of your team for giving me my life back. If you ever find yourself in my situation, do not hesitate to contact Sarah and her team, they really are one team in a million". Much love Jo

    Tuesday 30th August 2016
  • "Thank you for all your hard work in this matter. We are able now to put closure to this and have a great Christmas as a family and a promising new future with new aspirations and goals for the future. It is a relief to put an end to this. I can't thank you and Sarah enough for your compassion and commitment through the last few months, just wished I had sought your help sooner and this would not have lasted this long. I will definitely be singing your praises to all we know as a competent and professional Law firm."

    22nd December 2016
  • "I can't thank you enough for your help- you have saved me from many more sleepless nights and endless worry! You wouldn't believe how many hours I have spent trying to find practical advice on this and you have set it all out so clearly and concisely. I am so hugely grateful."    

    Wednesday 8th March 2017
  • Sarah and her staff were perfection.  

    Wednesday 24th May 2017

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