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‘Claudia’s Law’ to help families of missing loved ones | UK News

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A law named after missing chef Claudia Lawrence is being introduced to help families take over the affairs of loved ones who have disappeared.

Ms Lawrence has been missing for 10 years having disappeared on 18 March 2009.

The 35-year-old was reported missing the following day when she failed to arrive for her early morning shift as a cook at York University.

Police believe she was murdered, though her body has never been discovered.

“Claudia’s Law” creates a legal status of guardian of the affairs of a missing person, allowing families to act in their best interests after they have disappeared for 90 days or longer.

It will mean families can suspend direct debits for bills and make mortgage payments.

Previously, families could only take over the financial affairs of a missing person if they were declared dead.

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Known as the Guardianship (Missing Person’s) Act 2017, the regulations will come into force on July 31.

 Peter Lawrence, photographed at his home near York, holds a photograph of his daughter Claudia Lawrence
Image:
Peter Lawrence, photographed at his home near York, holds a photograph of his daughter

Ms Lawrence’s father Peter – who has campaigned for change since his daughter’s disappearance – and charity Missing People backed the move, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said.

In a statement issued through the department, Mr Lawrence said: “This will make such a difference to the lives of the hundreds of families who have been waiting so long for it, enabling them to deal with their missing loved one’s financial and property affairs in the same way as everyone else is able to on a daily basis.

“One less burden at a time when families are at their emotional lowest ebb will help enormously.”

Justice minister Paul Maynard said: “No family dealing with the despair of a loved one going missing should have to endure the additional stresses of administrative problems.

“Claudia’s law will mean families can oversee the financial and property affairs of their missing loved one – removing a huge burden at such a traumatic time.”

Families who are granted the status can look after their loved one’s affairs for up to four years before having the option of renewing.

The scheme will be operated and supervised by the Office of the Public Guardian.

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