In part one of this series, we explained that if someone has gone missing and you’re the executor of their estate, you will need to get a certificate of presumed death before you can perform your duties. After checking to see whether you comply with the relevant criteria and making a claim, there are two other steps you must take to apply for this certificate.
Advertising your claim
After you make your claim for a certificate of presumed death, you must advertise your claim in a newspaper to ensure that missing person has the opportunity to come forward, should they still be alive. The claim must be submitted to a publication which is local to the person’s last known address and done within seven days of the issue date on your presumed death claim form. When advertising your claim use the following text, replacing the information in square brackets with the relevant words or numbers.
“In the High Court of Justice [Chancery] [Family] Division.
In the matter of an application for a declaration of the presumed death of [insert the missing person’s name].
A claim has been issued in the High Court of Justice, for a declaration that [insert missing person’s name] whose last known address was [insert missing person’s address] is presumed to be dead. Any person having an interest may apply to the court to intervene in the matter.
If you wish to apply to the court, you should do so at [court address] as soon as possible, and if possible within 21 days of the date of this notice. Delay may harm your prospects of being able to intervene.
(If you are legally represented) [Name of your legal representative] [Address your legal representative].
(If you are not legally represented) [Your address for service].”
Attending the hearing
The last step in this process requires you to attend a court hearing to finalise proceedings; this should take place within two months of your claim. Submit a newspaper clipping showing your advertisement to the Court no later than five days before your hearing and bring any relevant documents along. When you attend the hearing you may be asked for more information concerning the claim, see your claim challenged by another party or be informed that there will be another hearing before a final decision is made.
If the Court approves your application, you will either receive a declaration of presumed death at the hearing or at a later date. You can then attain a certificate of presumed death by applying to the General Office Register for £9.25. You can typically apply for the certificate 21 days after the declaration is issued unless the Court has given permission for an appeal to go ahead.
Prestige Tax and Trust Services
Once you receive the certificate you can use it as you would a death certificate, for tasks such as administering the person’s estate. This can be complex, as being the executor of someone’s estate involves a number of legal obligations. Prestige Tax and Trust Service can provide you with the specialised legal knowledge you require to serve as the executor of someone else’s estate.