If not, it will be assumed they are a willing organ donor.
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The move has been welcomed by experts who warn of a desperate shortage of organ donors.
But critics say that the change risks leaving patients confused, and research suggests that an opt out scheme may not actually increase the number of donated organs.
Polls suggest that most people are in favour of donation but just one in three signed up to the current opt in system.
From spring 2020 ministers will change the scheme to opt out.
Ministers want to encourage people to talk to their loved ones about the decision to donate.
Health minister Jackie DoylePrice, 48, said: “Organ donation saves lives. We believe that by making these changes, we can save as many as 700 more lives every year.
“But organ donation remains a gift. I want to encourage people who wish to give life in the event of their death to take the time to record their wishes and discuss it with family.”
Under the system individuals can still state religious or social objections about how body parts are dealt with.
Children will be exempt, as well as those without the capacity to consent and anyone who lives outside England for at least a year before their death.
People can opt out using the NHS Organ Donor Register and an app launching later this year should also make the process easier.
A Department of Health source said that if a family strongly objected an organ would not be taken.
“This is not about battling families, this is about a balance,” he added.
MPs will be asked to vote on the plans later this year.
The new system will be known as Max’s law after Max Johnson, the nine-year-old who led a campaign to change the law after he had a heart transplant.
One youngster to benefit from organ donation was Evie Doherty, who was waiting for seven months for a suitable donor organ.
Evie was aged three and on a mechanical heart until the lifesaving operations at Great Ormond Street Hospital in early 2016.
In May, her mother Nicole said her five-year-old “was the happiest child you ever came across” and revealed she had written to the child donor’s parents to thank them for their “gift of life”.
The Department of Health says that three people in England die every day while in need of an organ transplant, and that there are 5,100 people on the waiting list.
Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “Introducing an opt-out system will better reflect the views of the general public and give hope to those waiting for a transplant.”
The system has already been proposed in Scotland.
It was introduced in Wales in 2015, although a study in 2017 found that the number of donors had not actually increased.