Newly proposed legislation will help families to deal with the management of a missing person’s estate. The new Bill, proposed by Fine Gael Senator and solicitor, Colm Burke, has completed Committee stage in the Oireachtas, and has now progressed to Report and Final Stages.
Senator Burke said: “This Bill will allow for the making of a Presumption of Death Order in respect of two categories of missing persons – where death is virtually certain and in cases where the length of the disappearance indicates the person has died and will not return.
“I have previously written to the Minister of Justice, Charlie Flanagan about this Bill, along with Mr Brendan Bell, whose daughter Clodagh has been presumed dead since her disappearance in 2014.
“I am conscious that families need to be given every assistance when a loved one goes missing. It is a time of great anguish, which also has civil and legal implications. I hope this proposed legislation will help smooth the civil aspect, particularly if the death of the missing person is virtually certain.
“The records of the Missing Persons Bureau of An Garda Síochána show that almost 20 people are reported missing every day; amounting to over 7,000 missing person reports annually.
“While in the vast majority of cases the person thought to be missing turns up safe, unfortunately some do not.
“The current law in the area is quite limited. There is a common law presumption enabling a missing person to be presumed dead if the person has been missing for more than 7 years.
“The Bill is intended to clarify the legal position as to who is entitled to apply to the Court for an Interim Manager to be appointed to manage the missing person’s estate, and what procedures must be complied with, before the Courts will issue a Presumption of Death Order.
“This person may be the spouse, civil partner or co-habitant of the missing person or another family member. While nothing will make up for the loss of a loved one, it is my hope that this will help families to find closure,” the Fine Gael Senator said.
While the inquest of Mr Bell’s daughter Clodagh has been expedited and will take place in the coming weeks, Mr Bell said he feels that Senator Burke’s Bill will help other families navigate through this complex legal process.
Brendan Bell, said: “Until you have a death certificate you can’t move forward.
“The winding up of Clodagh’s accountancy business, without proof of death is very difficult. That is why the law needs to change.”