Lenders have given their backing to a new law being debated by the Government that would allow the close relatives of missing people to continue to administer their financial affairs such as a mortgage until they are found.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) said the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Bill, seeking to create a new form of legal guardianship, would help banks, who currently can be prevented by confidentiality rules and legal obligations from making pragmatic arrangements in a customer’s absence.
The CML said in a statement: “Guardianship would be a new concept to staff working for lenders, many of whom are unlikely to be aware of the Bill’s progress. If the Bill becomes law, it would therefore be helpful for the Government to provide a quick, clear and reliable means of verifying a guardian’s right to have information – and to make decisions – about a borrower’s property and financial matters. This could be achieved by the office of the Public Guardian keeping a register of guardianship orders, similar to the register of Deputies appointed under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. It would also help if third parties, including lenders, could ask the guardian to see a guardianship order.”
The trade body said an order could set out whether an appointed guardian has all – or only some – of the missing person’s rights and powers relating to property or financial affairs. Lenders are also seeking limited liability if they are required to administer a mortgage on the instructions of a guardian.