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Missing persons' families will be allowed bypass a seven-year wait to declare them dead from this week

It follows the passage of the Civil Law (Presumption of Death) Act in July.

Image: RollingNews.ie

FAMILIES OF INDIVIDUALS who are missing and presumed dead will be able to legally declare them as such without having to wait seven years under a new law.

It follows the passage of the Civil Law (Presumption of Death) Act in the Oireachtas in July, allowing families to apply to the courts for a death certificate for those who are missing.

Current Irish law states individuals cannot legally be declared dead until they have been missing for at least seven years, preventing families from dealing with their estates until then.

But from Friday, courts may grant a death certificate for those whose families can prove that the circumstances in which they went missing mean that their death was virtually certain or highly probable.

Courts will take into account the circumstances surrounding a person’s disappearance and their absence, including the time, location, and circumstances of their disappearance and the presence or absence of a motive for them to remain alive, but to disappear.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan signed the commencement order into law yesterday, allowing it to become active this week.

“This legislation will, I hope, offer some relief and certainty to many families in circumstances where, up to this point, no presumption of death could be made legally,” he said.

Earlier this year, he told the Dáil that society could do little to lessen the sense of loss for families whose loved ones went missing, but that the law would help relieve some of the practical problems encountered by those left behind.

“This is a sensitive topic which, fortunately, only affects a very small number of people,” he said.

“However, the size of the affected group does not diminish in any way the pain and emotional distress for those who have to live with the disappearance of a loved one.”

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