A bill to help families of missing persons who are presumed dead settle their affairs could become law by the end of the year. 

Fine Gael Senator Colm Burke said the families of missing persons currently face a long battle to settle the estate of a loved one, where they are presumed dead but no body has been found. 

Currently, families are not entitled to a Death Certificate when a loved one is missing, and believed dead, for example when they are lost at sea.

This means they cannot claim a pension, or wind up a business. 

The Government is supporting Senator Burke's Missing Persons Bill which received cross-party support in the Seanad this week.

The bill puts in place a statutory framework which would provide for the making of a presumption of death order when someone is missing and presumed dead. 

Mr Burke said he had been in touch with families of some missing people who have been left in limbo, unable to take any action in respect of the person's affairs. 

He added: "When someone goes missing it has a life changing impact on their family and friends. I believe we need to be as understanding and compassionate to people who have suffered this trauma".

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said he was pleased to support the bill, which he said was a short but important piece of legislation. 

"The bill will bring a degree of certainty and comfort to the lives of those who continue to mourn a loved one who has gone missing," Minister Flanagan said.

The bill was co-signed by Independent Senators Marie-Louise O'Donnell and Lynn Ruane. 
 

The Garda Missing Persons Bureau has close to 900 people listed as missing - the majority of whom are long- term missing.