So who manages the estates of Missing persons?

The disappearance of a beneficiary raises questions as to who manages the affairs of those who disappear? In some jurisdictions legislation allows family or friends to seek a court order enabling them to manage a missing persons affairs without waiting for or meeting the evidentiary burden for a ruling that they are presumed to be dead.

As has been discussed previously the process involved in declaring a missing person to be presumed dead takes too long to provide practical, timely assistance to people wishing to look after an estate in the short or medium term.

Of the many thousands of people that go missing in New South Wales 99.7 % are eventually located; 70% within three days, and, 86% within two weeks. Those who have been missing for more than a year are considered long term missing people.

The majority of missing people are subsequently found alive.

In November 2001 Glenn Flint left the family home to attend a medical appointment. He went to the appointment but was never seen again.

Glenn’s mother reported his disappearance to the police. The police followed procedure in tracing missing persons without a positive result. His parents’ contacted media outlets and was interviewed for articles that were published in major metropolitan newspapers and national magazines with widespread circulation.

The family contacted the Salvation Army Family tracing service to trace Glenn: without success.

Glenn’s parents, who are eligible persons under the Protected Estates Act  sought a Court order that provides that if the Court is satisfied that:

(a) the person is a missing person, and

(b) the person’s usual place of residence is in this State, and

(c) it is in the best interests of the person to do so.

(2) The Court may be satisfied that a person is a missing person only if it is satisfied that:

(a) it is not known whether the person is alive, and

(b) all reasonable efforts have been made to locate the person, and

(c) persons residing at the place where the person was last known to reside, or relatives or friends with whom the person would be likely to communicate, have not heard from, or of, the person for at least 90 days.

The evidence submitted indicated that no-one knows whether or not Glenn is alive. The police, Salvation Army and media coverage, constitute reasonable efforts to locate Glenn. Glenn’s relatives’, and former flat mates have not heard from him for over three years. The extensive media coverage has created no response, therefore it is likely no other friend has seen him.

Glenn had a few assets (notably superannuation from several jobs he had) and some debts. His parents wished to manage those assets pending his return.


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