You can make a claim for a ‘declaration of presumed death’ from the High Court if someone you know in England and Wales has been missing for:
- 7 years or more
- less than 7 years and you think they’ve died, eg they went missing during a natural disaster
A missing person isn’t automatically presumed dead.
You must make a claim for a declaration of presumed death if you want to do certain things, eg deal with their estate.
Who can make a claim
You can make a claim if you’re the missing person’s:
- spouse or civil partner
If none of these apply, you’ll need to prove to the court that you have enough of a connection to the missing person (‘sufficient interest’), eg you’re a distant relative and you have a birth certificate to prove it.
What else must be true to make a claim
To make a claim one or more of the following must also apply:
- you’re the missing person’s spouse or civil partner and you treat England or Wales as your permanent home (‘domicile’) on the date you make the claim
- you’re the missing person’s spouse or civil partner and you’ve been living in England or Wales for the whole year before the date you make the claim
- the missing person treated England or Wales as their permanent home (‘domicile’) on the date they were last known to be alive
- the missing person was living in England or Wales for the whole year before the date they were last known to be alive
It costs £528 to get a declaration of presumed death. You may be able to get help paying court fees.
Make a claim for a declaration of presumed death
You can make a claim yourself or use a legal representative.