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Presumption of Death Act Delayed

The new Presumption of Death Act has been delayed by six months.

Work has not been completed on the rules of court, regulations and related procedures required to bring the act into force, Justice Minister Shailesh Vara said in a statement.

The Act was expected to be ready in April 2014, but now its introduction has been delayed by six months and rescheduled for 1 October 2014, the next available common commencement date. The Justice Ministry will make another announcement to confirm the new date for the Act's implementation before the summer recess on 22 July.

The Presumption of Death Act is designed to make it easier for relatives of missing people to deal with their affairs. More specifically, it will allow people with relatives missing at least seven years to apply for a certificate declaring them presumed dead as part of their wills and estate planning.

The legislation, which was passed following a campaign by the Missing People charity, is to be implemented in England and Wales to bring the law into line with Scotland and Northern Ireland.

It is intended to create a simpler legal framework, helping families of missing people to handle their affairs, such as selling property, dissolving a marriage and sorting out bank accounts.