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Tsunami forces change in UK law on missing persons

[JURIST] Families of the tsunami victims are pressuring the British government to amend the rules for when missing persons can be legally declared dead. Lord Charles Falconer [BBC profile] announced today that legislators hoped to create a system to waive the seven-year time limit in cases where no body is found. The move would allow the hundreds of affected British families to resolve the financial affairs of their missing relatives after only one year. "The idea of waiting for seven years is unthinkable," Lord Falconer said. Without a death certificate, relatives may be unable to claim life insurance payments, resolve mortgages or sell property. Fifty-one British victims of the disaster have so far been confirmed dead and 27 bodies have been found. BBC has more. After the September 11 attacks, New York modified its state laws to grant affidavits in lieu of death certificates [text, PDF], so that victims did not have to wait the usual three years.

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