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Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan Sam Boal/

New law allows families to declare missing people dead, ending 'limbo' period

Relatives will no longer have to wait seven years to deal with estates.

CHARLIE FLANAGAN HAS welcomed the passing of a new law which allows the families of missing people to declare them as dead. 

The Civil Law (Presumption of Death) Bill, which was passed by the Houses of the Oireachtas today, provides for the establishment of a register of presumed deaths – meaning families will no longer have to wait seven years to deal with estates.

Speaking after the Bill completed its final stages in the Seanad, the Minister for Justice and Equality said: “The families of missing persons often feel like they are living in limbo.

“I hope that the Bill we have passed today will give them some measure of much-needed closure by enabling them to put the affairs of their missing loved ones in order.”

The Bill will allow the families of missing people to apply for a ‘presumption of death order’. This order has the same effect in law as the registration of a death under the Civil Registration Act 2004.

In practical terms, this means that the estate of the missing person can be administered and the missing person’s financial and property affairs can be managed and put in order.

The legislation also provides that a presumption of death order has the effect of bringing a marriage or civil partnership with the missing person to an end.

The Bill had cross-party support and Flanagan acknowledged “the positive and collaborative approach” taken by government and the Bill’s sponsors, senators Marie-Louise O’Donnell, Lynn Ruane and Colm Burke.

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