back to article Being declared dead is automated, so why is resurrection such a nightmare?

Zombies walk among us – until they need a nice sit-down, of course. It can be tiring to be undead. No wonder they drag their feet around and do all that moaning. One such moaner is 58-year-old Michel from Montpellier. He has never stopped complaining since the postman delivered a letter one morning in June to offer him …

  1. Dr_N Silver badge

    Getting a full rental caution/deposit refunded?

    You'll be dead of old age waiting for that to ever happen.

  2. johnB

    In the UK we have the DVLA

    Which makes any Frog bureaucracy look easy-peasy to deal with.

    Just try to SORN / tax a car after death & before probate.

    1. ClockworkOwl

      Re: In the UK we have the DVLA

      Seems I dodged a bullet there, I couln't find dads paperwork, so just claimed ownership. Seemed to be fairly painless and quick.

      I'm pretty sure I had both V5s in my name within 2 weeks...

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: In the UK we have the DVLA

        "Seems I dodged a bullet there,"

        So did I.

        During COVID my BiL was terminally ill with cancer. His car reg. was up for renewal or SORN. His non-driving wife, despite having worked as a secretary didn't know what to do and in any case they didn't have a computer. It had got to about the lst available day when something had to be done. She told me the DVLA (actually the NI DVLA) reference so I went online for her to enter the SORN. He died a few hours later.

      2. TeeCee Gold badge
        Facepalm

        Re: In the UK we have the DVLA

        Yes, merely taking ownership is very simple.

        Just ask anyone who's had their car stolen, subsequently found it and then tried to get it back...

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: In the UK we have the DVLA

      And "Tell Us Once" should be against the trade descriptions act, because you're probably going to have to sort out two or three things yourself afterwards.

  3. b0llchit Silver badge
    Pint

    Remember Dabbs - He'll be missed

    Sorry Dabbs, you did not survive the last article. Your life was unfortunately ended by a stuck key hopping onto the lever of "shut off permanently". You will be dearly missed.

    We'll await your ghost to write any follow-up articles to keep the readership entertained. Please do so with maximum potential from beyond the grave. We're sure that your ghostly outfit will make you see over us and scare us all to hell. Very good luck with that.

    Cheers - you will never ever have another hangover in your dead state!

    1. TimMaher Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Remember Dabbs - He'll be missed

      Often wondered if Dabbsy had a ghost writer.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Remember Dabbs - He'll be missed

      AH, does this explain why there was no SFTW last week then?

    3. RegGuy1 Silver badge

      Re: Remember Dabbs - He'll be missed

      This seems a good place to point out how the Nobel Prize came about.

      After reading an erroneous obituary condemning him as a war profiteer, Nobel was inspired to bequeath his fortune to the Nobel Prize institution

      1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

        Re: Remember Dabbs - He'll be missed

        So what can we expect from AD's ghost?

  4. Warm Braw Silver badge

    A disgruntled parting tenant who had her declared dead

    I can't wait for the Channel 5 series in which a team of burly undertakers rouse recalcitrant debtors in the middle of the night and demand they "get in the box".

    Can't Pay? We'll Take You Away!

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: A disgruntled parting tenant who had her declared dead

      MR. BROWN: Yes?

      MAN: Hello. Uhh, can we have your liver?

      MR. BROWN: My what?

      MAN: Your liver. It's a large, ehh, glandular organ in your abdomen. You know, it's, uh,-- it's reddish-brown. It's sort of, uhh,--

      MR. BROWN: Yeah,-- y-- y-- yeah, I know what it is, but... I'm using it, eh.

      ERIC: Come on, sir.

      MR. BROWN: Hey! Hey! Stop!

      ERIC: Don't muck us about.

      MR. BROWN: Stop! Hey! Hey! Stop it. Hey!

      MAN: Hallo [As he takes something from Mr. Brown]

      MR. BROWN: Ge-- get off.

      MAN: What's this, then? Mmh.

      MR. BROWN: A liver donor's card.

      MAN: Need we say more?

      ERIC: No!

      MR. BROWN: Listen! I can't give it to you now. It says, 'in the event of death'. Uh. Oh! Ah. Ah. Eh.

      MAN: No one who has ever had their liver taken out by us has survived.

  5. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

    Yeah, and

    I can understand how this use case escaped the scope planning, but how about this for cruelty by design?

    When my father died the (UK) married couple's pension was stopped immediately, but it took 3 months to start my mother's single person's pension. And that is normal.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Yeah, and

      Having been an executor (unfortunate title in the circumstances) now on a number of occasions I am no longer shocked by the incompetence, petty bureaucracy and general lack of empathy shown by government departments, financial institutions and service and utility providers. In many cases you are obliged to deal with a small number of "specially trained" staff who have clearly all received courses in officious insensitivity and saying "no" by default.

      Whereas death is fortunately a once-in-a-lifetime event for most of us, you'd think it would be sufficiently common that organisations might by now have worked out how to deal with it - at least efficiently, if not sympathetically,

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yeah, and

      When Dad died, one of the first things we did was to get BT to transfer the phone into Mum's name

      Naturally the phone went dead on the day of the funeral!

      1. Paul Kinsler Silver badge

        Re: transfer the phone into Mum's name

        It can help a bit if all such bills are - in advance of anything - put under both names, as a precaution.

        1. ClockworkOwl
          WTF?

          Re: transfer the phone into Mum's name

          It's a personel lottery...

          One voice sounds caring but isn't, the next sounds like a sullen teenager, but has just sorted your issue out, given you a discount and reset your line profile to give you 20% better speeds..!

          I've dealt with BT in so many different ways, and it's always the personel lottery, every transfer.

        2. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: transfer the phone into Mum's name

          I'm not sure how much it helps in death (probably not a great deal), but if you want to protect against your partner becoming incapacitated then you need to take out a "lasting power of attorney" before it happens or you'll be frozen out of your partner's finances until you go to court... and UK courts have quite a backlog.

          But then again, even applying for LPA is a problem.

          To be honest French bureaucracy sounds easier.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: transfer the phone into Mum's name

            I think read somewhere, fairly sure in a comment in these very forums, the power of attorney expires on death.

            Just checked and "The lasting power of attorney (LPA) ends when the donor dies. You must report the death of a donor to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).

            1. Warm Braw Silver badge

              Re: transfer the phone into Mum's name

              It does indeed.

              For a number of financial purposes, it's actually better to be a joint account holder as your authority on the account continues.

              It's also weird that a lot of financial institutions, which often go out of their way to make PoAs jump through hoops during someone's lifetime, have a threshold of around 10k-15k below which you can waltz in with some id and a death certificate, claim you're the executor and they'll give you access to the deceased's funds.

            2. RegGuy1 Silver badge

              Re: transfer the phone into Mum's name

              Correct. That's why you empty the bank account before you go to the bank to notify them.

              They may come back and say you took the money after he died, and that's not allowed. But you have the money when you start the discussion. It's so much easier that way! That's what I did when my dad died.

      2. JustAnotherBadger

        Re: Yeah, and

        It goes against all instinct to praise BT, but when Dad passed a couple of months ago, they were by far the best at handling the transfer. All online, and a follow up phone call to me to ensure I was happy.

        Compare to Scottish Power who apparently have no concept that an account holder might die, and the surviving partner would prefer to carry it on, I'm led to believe that in this enlightened day and age they even occasionally pay bills out of shared accounts!

        1. Killfalcon

          Re: Yeah, and

          I remember when I was a student in shared accommodation (in fairness, that was a while back now), and having to change the name on the bills when someone moved out was often *astonishingly* painful, despite it being a thing that happens all the damn time. You'd think changing between family members would be common too!

          The one exception was SWALEC, where the guy taking the call actually lived around the corner from us. Absolutely flawless service, took minutes to do.

          (at the far end of the range, I once struggled to explain to Virgin Media that "Mr The Occupier" wasn't a real person)

    3. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Bronze badge

      Re: Yeah, and

      I was once a line manager at a public organisation famed for process and bureaucracy. The smoothest and most efficient set of processes we had were those that kicked in when someone resigned, by a long way.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Yeah, and

        The smoothest and most efficient set of processes we had were those that kicked in when someone resigned, by a long way.

        My first thought was that that would be because it was the most invoked process, but that can't be as hiring should be invoked even more frequently (there are two other ways of somebody leaving the company besides resigning).

        1. Killfalcon

          Re: Yeah, and

          It's more likely to do with risk.

          A new hire doesn't have drive access? Well, sucks, but they can do the orientation slides or something. Forget to pay them? Manual payment can cover that without anyone being harmed, using the same processes that you run to do all your expenses.

          Someone leaves and still has access to confidential documents? That's much more worrying. And accidentally paying them too much, well, you can get the money back, but recovery isn't free - god forbid they go out of contact or otherwise force you to go to legal action, and you have to pay court fees and lawyer's rates...

  6. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Err No!

    "saved some systems operators a great deal of inconvenience over the summer vacation period."

    Change the date of death, retrospectively.

    Oh Yeah!

    I'll bet you can't. Especially not to say you'd died after you'd already been declared dead.

  7. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    What would happen if you committed a crime after being declared dead? Could they put a "dead" person on trial?

    1. Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

      They did it with Martin Boorman, I think.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And at least one pope?

        1. Kevin Johnston

          Don't forget that Charles II ordered Oliver Cromwell be dug up and then executed for Regicide. Did that change any death certificate or date of his death?

          1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
            Joke

            Sick Joke Alert

            That is a much more worrying possibility, if someone has been wrongly declared dead, and you subsequently kill them before they have been able to rectify the error, are you guilty of murder?

            "Your Honour, I cannot possibly have killed X on the 23rd because he was declared dead five days prior on the 18th. I plead guilty to damaging a corpse."

            1. Stoneshop Silver badge
              Holmes

              before they have been able to rectify the error

              Oh, and then consider the case where X has fully submitted all the required paperwork for him to be declared un-dead, the processes have been irrevocably set in motion and due to bureaucratic inertia and other reasons can't be stopped before completion, only fully finalising after his second death has administratively gone through.

              Somewhat related, would people be required to register on Second Life after being digitally revived?

    2. Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

      Ah no, hang on, I get what the question is now. Can you be declared dead and then go on to commit a crime with impunity?

      I wonder if Paul McCartney did anything naughty after Abbey Road came out? "It wasn't me, luv, I was barefoot in Heaven at the time."

      The Queen has been erroneously declared dead so often, she could have offed hundreds by now.

      1. Dr_N Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Mr Dabbs> ... she could have offed hundreds by now.

        Could it not be said that HM's armed forces and SIS have done so for her on many occasions?

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          RE: HM QE II

          According to a series of reports in the Guardian newspaper, HM QE II is the law in the UK, and as such cannot be sued in civil proceedings, neither can investigating officers enter Her private property without permission:

          https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/jul/15/sandringham-estate-police-barred-investigating-wildlife-crime

          As all criminal prosecutions* in the UK are 'The Crown vs' someone, it is deemed that She cannot be taken to court as She would, in effect be prosecuting herself.

          She can, at the moment, get away with a lot of offences which would see us lesser mortals prosecuted most severely. For example, She is exempt from the Equal Opportunities Act, race discrimination legislation and Health and Safety legislation.

          *In theory a private citizen could instigate a private criminal prosecution, but they are extremely rare and the Attorney General has the ability to take over the prosecution and do what they like, even end it.

          1. Martin-73 Silver badge

            Re: RE: HM QE II

            I actually have a huge amount of respect for the queen, but this is one of the points that makes me HATE the monarchy, HOW is that fair, in any way, shape, or form

            1. veti Silver badge

              Re: RE: HM QE II

              Before attempting to answer that, could you please clarify what you mean by "fair"?

            2. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: RE: HM QE II

              I don't think a governmental structure whose legitimacy is "I own this country because my dad did before me" was considering justice very much. In the case of the UK, since it's probably never been abused in modern history and for almost everyone has been superseded by democratic structures, this can remain a curiosity. In countries where it's actively in use, it is exactly the unfair structure you imagine.

  8. CuChulainn Silver badge

    Catch-22

    I love this! It's a real life enactment of Doc Daneeka's situation in Catch-22.

    ...Doc Daneeka himself came in about an hour afterward to have his temperature taken for the third time that day and his blood pressure checked. The thermometer registered a half degree lower than his usual subnormal temperature of 96.8. Doc Daneeka was alarmed. The fixed, vacant, wooden stares of his two enlisted men were even more irritating than always.

    “Goddammit,” he expostulated politely in an uncommon excess of exasperation, “what’s the matter with you two men anyway? It just isn’t right for a person to have a low temperature all the time and walk around with a stuffed nose.” Doc Daneeka emitted a glum, self-pitying sniff and strolled disconsolately across the tent to help himself to some aspirin and sulphur pills and paint his own throat with Argyrol. His downcast face was fragile and forlorn as a swallow’s, and he rubbed the back of his arms rhythmically. “Just look how cold I am right now.

    You’re sure you’re not holding anything back?”

    “You’re dead, sir,” one of his two enlisted men explained....

    ...Colonel Cathcart refused to see him, and Colonel Korn sent word through Major Danby that he would have Doc Daneeka cremated on the spot if he ever showed up at Group Headquarters. Major Danby confided that Group was incensed with all flight surgeons because of Dr. Stubbs, the bushy-haired, baggy-chinned, slovenly flight surgeon in Dunbar’s squadron..."

  9. BenDwire Silver badge

    Brazil

    As I started reading this I was reminded of the opening sequence in Terry Gilliam's masterpiece (IMHO at least), and then saw the embedded clip.

    If anyone hasn't had the chance to see it then it's well worth sitting down with a bottle or two (You'll need it) and immersing yourself in a view on the near future, as told by someone in the 1980's - yes folks, it's all about now, and it's horribly accurate.

    For example, when Part P (UK wiring regs) first came out it was if they'd taken the script and applied it to the whole process: paperwork in triplicate, only 'qualified' people able to do seemingly simple tasks etc etc. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to do a "Bob Hoskin's Suit" on jumped up electricians.

    Anyway, thanks Dabbsy for another fine read.

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Brazil

      That movie was decades ahead of its time. When it came out we had no idea it was a documentary.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Brazil

        That movie was decades ahead of its time. When it came out we had no idea it was a documentary.

        It wasn't, it was a manual.

    2. the spectacularly refined chap Silver badge

      Re: Brazil

      For example, when Part P (UK wiring regs) first came out it was if they'd taken the script and applied it to the whole process: paperwork in triplicate, only 'qualified' people able to do seemingly simple tasks etc etc.

      The genius of that is it's actually made safety worse in a lot of cases. The cost of registration to be able to sign off your own work is through the roof, something like £5k/year/electrician. Many of the reputable firms simply responded "we can get more than enough commercial work, we won't bother with domestic stuff any more".

      That leaves the cowboys to deal with the domestic market who get the registration as a necessity after passing a few paper exams and not actually demonstrating competence.

    3. Mooseman Silver badge

      Re: Brazil

      " when Part P (UK wiring regs) first came out it was if they'd taken the script and applied it to the whole process: paperwork in triplicate"

      And only if you have a valid 27B-6.....

  10. xyz123

    The solution is to find a way to earn money but not pay tax on it BECAUSE YOU'RE DEAD.

    the government will fix the issue and add an UNDO option within weeks of finding out someone is gaming the system and not paying income taxes / has written off their credit card debts etc.

    1. TimMaher Silver badge
      Trollface

      There only two certainties in life...

      ...death and taxes. Or was it taxis? What about Uber?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not always the case, I fear. By having the temerity to retire in the middle of the financial year, while already receiving two previous pensions, I ended up paying stupid amounts of tax for the last six months of the year. After much screaming, they finally noticed this, sent me a big cheque, and then didn't charge any tax at all for the first ten months of the next year. The last two months, again after large screams, they charged me 50% of my income... finally they seem to have got it right.

      Anon because I don't want to wake them up.

  11. Zack Mollusc

    Musical choice?

    Lemmy was a good choice, but surely something by Hotblack Desiato would have been even more appropriate?

    1. Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

      Re: Musical choice?

      By all accounts, a fine estate agent: https://hotblackdesiato.co.uk/

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Musical choice?

        But his first choice was 'Gascoigne Pees'

      2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        Re: Musical choice?

        I remember HotBlack Desiato used by kind permission of HotBlack Desiato on the record sleeve credits, confusing the hell out of me for years.

  12. Inventor of the Marmite Laser

    Just make sure there's a goodly life inurance policy in place and arrange a trusted person to be the beneficiary.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sadly, you only know if it’s good after the fact. I’m having a protracted argument with one insurer as the policy amount does not match that which was written in the original acceptance letter… there’s a difference between fat fingers and fraud or embezzlement…and that’s before looking at how they did their calculations in the original offer (wet finger in air comes to mind). And some other basic errors too. When dealing with late parents estate, the life insurance was the worst handled thing… originally I thought it would be a certain high street bank who allowed some DDs to process even though the account was blocked and marked as dead for 8 months already (and took 6 more month to have them reversed).

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "This would certainly have been a satisfactory outcome from a purely bureaucratic standpoint and saved some systems operators a great deal of inconvenience over the summer vacation period."

    That is a /wildly/ overoptimistic viewpoint.

    The inheritance process if they both die at the exact same time and if the father dies later on are very different. The notaries involved would get quite busy untangling and correcting the process already under way. Depending on whether the father had siblings, and whether the child had siblings and children of his own, and how well they were getting along, it could easily take years.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      In the UK if you both die within some period of time, the older one is declared to have died first.

      This turned out quite useful in WWII, when some Lord and his son were killed in the blitz by the same bomb. The government claimed death duties on the father's estate then the same again on the son's.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Pirate

        I have heard of people writing into their will that their beneficiaries must live for 28 days or something past the passing to receive their bequest.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Found out when when I owned a company. We are married with no kids but partner is a few days younger.

          If we were both in a car crash we assumed it all got split but everything would have gone to her elderly mother who would have become boss of a software company

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            My cousins lost out on their father's legacy. He and his second wife suffered carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty appliance. He was dead - but his wife survived in a coma for a couple of weeks before she died. The inheritance law said only her will counted - and everything went to her children.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Most countries have such a thing as a Wedding Certificate but in France, there is also an official Certificate of Unmarriedness, and it is a right old bugger to find someone to draw one up when you’re not French.

    I had the same in Belgium... Trying to prove i wasn't already married involved applying for a marriage licence where i had previously lived in the UK, waiting 3 weeks for anyone to object, going back to get the certificate, getting the certificate countersigned by the UK consulate, getting it translated by an official translator, and getting that signed by a judge...

    1. navidier
      Happy

      Proving you've never been married

      >> Most countries have such a thing as a Wedding Certificate but in France, there is also an official Certificate of Unmarriedness, and it is a right old bugger to find someone to draw one up when you’re not French.

      > I had the same in Belgium... Trying to prove i wasn't already married involved applying for a marriage licence where i had previously lived in the UK, waiting 3 weeks for anyone to object, going back to get the certificate, getting the certificate countersigned by the UK consulate, getting it translated by an official translator, and getting that signed by a judge...

      Similarly when I was cashing in my Swiss pension and superannuation after moving to the UK, I had to prove I had never been married(!). Fortunately I was sharing an office with a Justice of the Peace at the time, so I made up a declaration that I had never been married, signed it before the JP as a witness, he notarised it, and within a short time I had enough money to buy a house here.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Proving you've never been married

        That doesn't prove you were unmarried, it's just you saying that!

        If I went 'round sayin' I was Emperor, just because some moistened bint lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Proving you've never been married

          That, apparently, is the second-best proof that UK can do.

          If you as a British citizen want to marry abroad and the other country requires real cast-iron solid proof that only UK officialdom can possibly guarantee that you are not married, you affirm it then the British consulate in that country displays it for 7 days*, if nobody sees it in that time and objects then the consulate issues a "certificate of no impediment".

          So there you go, what is a routine letter or certificate in many countries becomes handwavey nonsense in the UK.

          * in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet, stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard.

          1. Stork Silver badge

            Re: Proving you've never been married

            That appears to be (or at least did) SOP for verification in England, possibly UK.

            In the 90es, I needed acceptance (or letter of rejection) from the electoral roll to open a better bank account.

            I went to the town hall, showed my passport, and as no one objected I was accepted after 2 weeks. For EP and local elections.

            My wife did the same with the expectation of being rejected as she was a student, but also got accepted.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Un-Dead

    I used to do support on a patient record system (not NHS), in a hospice, so many deaths registered as normal day to day business, but the frequency that we would get support calls coming in because someone had been incorrectly marked as deceased was bordering on concerning. Fortunately, once you knew how it was pretty simple to resurrect someone.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: The Un-Dead

      >once you knew how it was pretty simple to resurrect someone.

      A drop of blood in the dust in the coffin?

      Or the traditional tomb+rock+3day delivery option ?

    2. Persona Silver badge

      Re: The Un-Dead

      In some societies its not uncommon for people to conceal that a relative has died so as to continue claiming pensions and other benefits for them.

      In places where this is more impossible to do it still needs to be bureaucratically challenging to declare someone "undead". If it's too easy you can steal the identity of a recently departed person and claim their pension for evermore. It's not as if the dead person is going to notice and raise a fuss about it. The crime only tends to get noticed because of the surprising longevity of the pensioner.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Further investigation suggests that it might not have been so much an error by a civil servant as a parting fuck-you from a disgruntled parting tenant who had her declared dead after repeatedly but unsuccessfully trying to contact her for the refund of his deposit."

    This one is doubtful. You need a doctor's certificate or like in this article, a considerable fuck-up to declare someone dead. And the body of course.

    But yes, it seems declared dead people actually fully breathing are becoming a meme in France.

    Mostly, it's just there are likely, more than one "Michel Martin" in France, and some clueless idiot fail to conduct more verification and tick the wrong button.

    Heck, my village has 2 postal codes, because it's big and 2 parts of the postal "service" are serving both parts. And they are in *different* departments, X and Y. My village depends on department X and my postal code is Y.

    It shouldn't take a PHD to understand this is possible and my postal code is Y doesn't *mean* I live in department Y, but even postal people plus 50% of all civil servant don't seem to comprehend this.

    Fuckwits.

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      My house is not registered in the borough were the land it is build belongs to (not exactly a borough, but the local equivalent). Every time I need to sort something with an utilities company it's like going to hell and back

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge

      And the body of course.

      It's definitely a total pain in the arse when there's no body, or at least some variant of "he was working at $factory[0] when it went up in flames and several people have since been unaccounted for, with no identifiable remains found[1]." There's usually a several-year wait before a person who's gone missing[2] can be declared dead for most legal purposes.

      [0] clocked in, didn't clock out, confirmed to have been working in or around the most heavily impacted area.

      [1] probably occurring less nowadays with current DNA retrieval technologies.

      [2] and not presumed fed, unless it's to the Bugblatter Beast of Traal.

    3. Stork Silver badge

      Never heard of it in Denmark, but there your true ID is your social security number (DDMMYY-nnnn), also used as tax number and for any interaction with officialdom, banks and more.

      Makes life easy (here in Portugal you have 3 codes depending on situation) , but not optimal for privacy

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        They have a social security number in France too, so clearly this doesn't prevent errors.

        Problem is it doesn't help having fail-safes if you bypass or ignore them.

        1. Stork Silver badge

          Could have to do with how consistently the SSN is used

  17. Outski Silver badge
    Happy

    In the end, he persuaded a British consul to sign a letter stating that the aforementioned – a person he didn’t know and had never met – was, as far as he could guess, probably not already married

    MrsO and I had to get one of these (each) from our respective embassies in Thailand so we could get married, took a day from both the UK and Indonesia's, then a day to get them translated, then a couple of hours to get dispensation from the Thai Foreign Affairs ministry to actually get married. And off we trotted to a registry office that was used to foreigners, 17 years ago :o)

  18. Potemkine! Silver badge

    "We never make mistakes"

    To cover such blunder the Bureaucracy found the best solution was to push those people to commit suicide

    Now that Mr. Dabbs is a distinguished guest of this country, I would suggest him to have a look to the work of Georges Courteline. One century later, his epic descriptions of idiotic bureaucracy are still valid.

    1. apolodoro

      Re: "We never make mistakes"

      How do you record the death of someone who is already marked dead? It's no use to correct one mistake and leave an inaccurate death date in the database. You would probably have to change the death record to accept multiple dates.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        Re: "We never make mistakes"

        You must not kill the one who is already dead.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: "We never make mistakes"

          Used to be a thing in the middle ages (and probably in France today) if you had the sacrament of "last rights" and then recovered you were considered "sort of dead" by the church and had to fast and be in mourning for yourself for the rest of your life

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "We never make mistakes"

            If you had to fast for the rest of your life, the aformention rest would end not too much later, only this time as a result of a too extreme keto diet.

            Which makes me wonder: would you then get a next "last sacrament", or would you get a "truly last sacrament"?

            1. Stoneshop Silver badge
              Pirate

              Re: "We never make mistakes"

              Which makes me wonder: would you then get a next "last sacrament", or would you get a "truly last sacrament"?

              "I'm not dead yet."

              "This was your very, very, very last sacrament. I'm not going to give you yet another one. Ever."

              "I'm getting better, I'm getting better."

              "No you're not." *Thwack*

          2. Stoneshop Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: "We never make mistakes"

            Well, you did.

            It's the sacrament of "last rites"

  19. apolodoro

    This report came to mind

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-brain-tiny/tiny-brain-no-obstacle-to-french-civil-servant-idUSN1930510020070720

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This report came to mind

      This may be an endemic issue across much of officialdom..

  20. Franco Silver badge

    Killed by Death

    Probably my favourite Motorhead song. I remember reading an interview with Wurzel (late Motorhead guitarist who co-wrote the song) in Raw magazine years ago and he said he wanted it played at his funeral. I hope he got his wish.

    1. F. Frederick Skitty

      Re: Killed by Death

      My favourite track by them after Fast Eddie left, featuring some of Lemmy's most sensitive and romantic lyrics. For example, the almost Shakespearean "If you squeeze my lizard, I'll put my snake on you, I'm a romantic adventure, And I'm a reptile too".

  21. Mike 125

    Precogs help

    In the UK, 'lasting power of attorney' basically gives you total control over an incapacitated person's affairs and, well... life.

    If that person is very rich, and then gets better, (unlikely, but we're in that territory) - and you alone know, what do you do?

    And even if you choose to do the right thing, try finding the Rollback command for that. You're more likely to be Committed.

    I've got a Minority Report vibe goin' on...

  22. Bill Gray

    The title is optional

    Years back, when I got junk mail with a self-addressed prepaid envelope, I'd circle my name and address, write REMOVE FROM LIST next to it, and send it back to the offending organization.

    Some didn't pay any attention, of course. So I took to writing DECEASED -- REMOVE FROM LIST (which horrified my wife and my mother, but was more effective.) I still got offers for pre-approved credit cards; apparently, death wasn't enough to make me a credit risk.

    Only later did it occur to me that if I ever do need to take out a loan, I'll probably be told : "Sorry, Mr. Gray, but our records indicate that you're dead."

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: The title is optional

      >if I ever do need to take out a loan, I'll probably be told : "Sorry, Mr. Gray, but our records indicate that you're dead."

      You don't think being dead would stop the bank trying to sell you a loan?

      Ah Mr Gray, since you are already dead we assume the term of this loan will 'eternity' with a typical APR of ....

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: The title is optional

      So I took to writing DECEASED -- REMOVE FROM LIST

      This doesn't help.

      This house's previous tenant ran a small business building and servicing industrial cutting plotters. He moved out rather hurriedly, it turned out, and the first months of us living here the doorbell being rung by a bailiff looking for Mr. B were a rather common occasion. Quite a lot of mail was still arriving, and in one case a set of parts (which the sender was glad to get returned); we mailed them back with "moved out, current address unknown". Still not all of the mail stopped, and even when we learned of his demise a few years ago and started labeling the return mail with "ADDRESSEE DECEASED" in big bold letters two or three trade magazines just kept going.

      Oh well.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: The title is optional

        Of the Shropshire De'Ceased ? A fine ancient family

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: The title is optional

          Related to the De'Aths

          1. Ken Shabby

            Re: The title is optional

            Brown-Breads

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: The title is optional

        I've mentioned a similar circumstance before. I eventually stopped the mail by ringing up and telling them there would be a £10 handling charge for all mail returned in the future.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Holmes

          ringing up

          There's likely a website connected to the magazine in question.

          Somewhere deep in the bowels of it a telephone number may be found that might still be working.

          If it is, it's likely to connect you to a "helpdesk" somewhere in India that can answer a few generic questions that could be said to relate to magazine subscriptions, slightly adapted to the magazine's publisher.

          They sure as hell won't have the foggiest about how to cancel a particular person's subscription(s).

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: ringing up

            This was an alumnus annual so I doubt there was a website. And given the current habit of dragging all manner of JavaScript with an ever greater fan-out of dependencies, all unverified, I'm not going to go looking for and clicking on random websites.

            It wasn't difficult to find the phone number of the college concerned.

        2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: The title is optional

          My solution was to inform British Gas that, under the Data Protection Act, I required them to remove my personal information (specifically my address) from their record of someone else as their persistently sending me bills for someone who has never lived at this address was causing me distress. I also informed them that if I received so much as one more bill for them I would make a formal complaint the the UK's ICO.

          And the rest is silence :o)

          1. mhoulden

            Re: The title is optional

            British Gas has form. In 2009 someone sued them for stalking because their billing system wouldn't accept that she didn't have an account with them any more and didn't owe them money: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2009/46.html.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: The title is optional

        "Still not all of the mail stopped, and even when we learned of his demise a few years ago and started labeling the return mail with "ADDRESSEE DECEASED" in big bold letters two or three trade magazines just kept going."

        Probably because a 3rd party mail distribution company is sending the stuff out and the returns just go straight in the bin. They don't care at all whether the items even get delivered. They only get paid for sending them. If they acted on even the genuine "not at this address" or "addressee deceased", that would affect their bottom line.

      4. Dog11
        FAIL

        Re: The title is optional

        Trade mags are often paid for by the advertisers, so their income depends on an extensive mailing list. There's one I've not only sent back for close to a decade, but taken at least one phone call from ("to update our records"). I still receive it monthly, and convey it directly to the waste bin. (I'm not dead, only my business is.)

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: The title is optional

          Try the handling charge ploy.

  23. disgruntled yank

    Thoughts

    This recalls a bit of Flann O'Brien, with Sir Myles Na Copaleen returning from the grave to distress his supposed widow, heirs, etc.

    Also, wasn't there a nasty train wreck some years ago near London, in the aftermath of which various persons took it upon themselves to declare that others had died in the wreck--disgruntled spouses, partners, what have you?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Proving that you are not a bigamist

    Ah, the Certificat de Coutume! As an Irish person living abroad I was told that I had to provide one to the German authorities. This didn't apply to everyone, just Irish citizens and seems to be some sort of throwback to having to get permission from the church to marry. The Irish government website said that it could take up to two months to arrive, the requirements were not well documented and despite having sorted out the required paperwork while back in Ireland, was then told that I had to re-do them in Germany, my country of residence. Complete load of crap. The stupid bit of paper did actually turn up after two weeks (after re-submission) and not two months, but by that point we'd had enough and said fuck it, 'living in sin' is just fine thank you!

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Proving that you are not a bigamist

      > 'living in sin' is just fine thank you!

      In Germany you probably need an official government permit which specifies exactly what kind of sin and what days and times you are permitted to do it - definitely not Sunday mornings in the rural areas.

  25. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    After one of my pension providers decided I was dead to them because a letter had been returned to then 'not at this address' (and that, apparently, simply because the label with my name on it on the letterbox had fallen off) I managed to persuade them I was still alive. Turned out that this was their standard practice; missing a month's pension concentrates the mind and leads to interesting phone calls.

    Another pension provider requires me to get a proof-of-life signed by a JP or a doctor every now and then. Which turns out to be cheaper at my doctor in Germany than previously in the UK.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Another pension provider requires me to get a proof-of-life signed by a JP or a doctor every now and then."

      One of mine requires a person of suitable standing such as business owner. My semi-retired bookseller neighbour did that. Another included a relative in the list; after checking it turned out that a spouse was acceptable - I don't know why because they would have a vested interest in the pension provider not being aware that the pensioner was now visiting the great Post Office in the sky.

  26. iron Silver badge

    Actually declaring someone has died is a long and tortuous proccess. As well as the registrar you then have the bank, mobile account, HMRC, council tax, utilities, etc, etc, etc. Not to mention someone you haven't seen in years asking about the deceased months later.

    But I guess that doesn't fit with the author's asshole snark attitude.

    My partner passed suddenly at the start of March, I received a letter about her bloddy student loan the other day.

    1. BenDwire Silver badge

      Sorry to hear about your loss; I know what you must be going through.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      I know dealing with the death of a loved one is a terrible process, and I sympathize with what you're going through. However, that doesn't stop those who have been incorrectly declared dead from having a different bad experience, which was the author's point. Short of the economic and medical problems listed, it is also a frustrating process that seems extremely illogical and therefore probably leads to lots of annoyance and wry humor while solving it. I don't see why identifying and discussing this problem should earn the disapproval you have expressed.

    3. First Light Silver badge

      I lost my mother in January. I offer you my sympathies and would like to recommend looking for a bereavement group near you to help deal with the loss. I have found attending group like this to be invaluable in dealing with grief.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My girlfriend's husband died more than 11 years ago. Even last year she had to hand me her phone and his old drivers license so I could, as him, authorize her access an account that was still only in his name, but that neither of them had touched in at least 15 years (having been together for 25 years).

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        That really isn't the best way to handle it. Banks (or whatever it was) can be difficult when you go the official route - his executor closing the account. They will certainly be a great more difficult if they learn that access was gained by false representation.

    5. TeeCee Gold badge
      Facepalm

      Why am I not surprised to find that the French do things entirely differently to the way we[1] do them?

      HINT: The Dordogne is not just outside Birmingham.

      [1] and probably everyone else.

    6. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Commiserations

      My mother died a bit over a month ago. My cousin, who is a solicitor and managed probate for his mother, advised my father to get a solicitor to do probate. You can help by getting as much information together as possible, but even my cousin reckoned it was too difficult for him to manage so he got a probate solicitor when he needed one.

  27. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    What about GDPR?

    Surely the obvious course to take is to complain to you friendly local GDPR Commissioner. Inform them that false information is held by these organisations about you and causing you distress and that you have required them to correct it.

    Or am I being incredibly naive?

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: What about GDPR?

      They'll look you up, discover that you are dead, and inform you that GDPR only applies to living persons.

  28. First Light Silver badge

    Joint accounts problem

    A relative lives in Belgium: Her friend's husband died and mere hours later the friend's JOINT account with her spouse was frozen. She could not get access to the account for months.

    1. Stork Silver badge

      Re: Joint accounts problem

      Here in Portugal things can also take time, but at least they have changed the freezing procedure: e.g. if there are two account holders half the balance is frozen. This can make a huge difference to a surviving spouse.

      Denmark does as Belgium, but at least the unfreezing usually happens within a month.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Joint accounts problem

      "A relative lives in Belgium: Her friend's husband died and mere hours later the friend's JOINT account with her spouse was frozen. She could not get access to the account for months."

      I can sort of see the point. What if your friend cleared out the account and deceased will declared that his share was meant to go to someone else? A lot can depend on local law, eg does the spouse get everything by default, over-riding any will by the deceased or does the deceased's will over-ride everything, potentially leaving the surviving spouse penniless?

  29. Stoneshop Silver badge
    Devil

    Not a problem at all.

    "His national health ID card was no longer valid and his top-up health insurance was cancelled."

    So, failing to keep his health topped up this problem will solve itself.

  30. herman Silver badge

    I Would Pobably Live Forever

    I think that when I die, Austria will refuse to accept my Death Certificate, because my Birth Certificate does not have an Apostille stamp.

  31. Real Ale is Best

    Life Certificate

    I Ain't Ded

    P.S. We need a Granny Weatherwax icon.

  32. Comedy of Errors

    The un-deading command

    At one company at worked at it happened so often the IT team built a command line utility that users could run to fix all the problems declaring somebody dead caused when they weren't.

    What was the command that had to be run? It was "Easter" because it brought people back to life.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The un-deading command

      Wouldn't it be better called the "Lazarus" command?

      AC, because even the dead have lawyers

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: The un-deading command

        Written in Pascal, of course.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Go

          Written in Pascal, of course.

          As it's an undead language?

          Why not Algol-60, if that's the criterion?

          Too apropos be would Forth, way the by.

          1. ThatOne Silver badge

            Re: Written in Pascal, of course.

            Because "Pascal" means "of Easter" (greek).

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Written in Pascal, of course.

              None of the above. What I had in mind was https://www.lazarus-ide.org/

  33. Eclectic Man Silver badge
    Unhappy

    You think being declared dead is a problem???

    Today on BBC Radio 4 they interviewed a lady who had decided to pay off her remaining mortgage debt some £85,000. She informed her bank, Barclays, and sent off the money. She was informed that the mortgage had been paid off, but did not receive the deeds to her property. They she got a letter from her bank asking her about mortgage interest payments and saying that as she no longer had a scheduled payment she would have to do something.

    Turns out that Barclays had paid off someone else's mortgage with her money. Not only that, but the other person's mortgage debt was somewhat less, so they had 'refunded' around £30,000 to the other person.

    It was all sorted out eventually, but you can imagine how stressful it was.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m00199cp. Warning - log in account required to listen.

  34. DomDF

    Someone at my university told Student Finance I'd withdrawn, so they stopped my loan payments. That took 6 months to resolve.

    Why is it that hard?

  35. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
  36. Blackjack Silver badge

    Around here they ran out death certificates and a widow had to wait three weeks to have they dead and buried husband declared dead. Oh did I mention death insurance only gets paid three to six months after you have done all the paperwork?

    I recently canceled a land phone line, it was in name of my father who has been dead over ten years. Yes I did get the death certificate made ten years ago, but the phone company didn't find out he was death until a few months ago when the phone line finally got cancelled.

    Not joking.

    Also I still get "Pay now or else" letters in the name of someone who died over twenty years ago. I went and got a copy of the death certificate to get to those people. But bolted once they wanted me to sign anything since I didn't want to get saddled with the debt, is been twenty years you see, so interests have been piling up.

    I can't wait until they finally send something worse that a debt notice, and I tell however wants me to sign anything that the person died back in 1991.

    And no, not joking about this one either.

  37. itzman

    I do miss Lemmy...

    Thanks for the clip.

  38. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Dick Laurent is dead

    My mum has had awful stress declaring my dead dad dead. It was killing her but it made me laugh. Every petty little company or office wants the original death certificate mailed to them, and then take weeks to return it. Pensions, bank accounts, benefits, humanity I hate you.

    She asked me what I'd learned from her ordeal. "Well, don't store your death plans behind a picture on the wall. And when you die I'm not going to tell anyone, I'm going to taxidermy you to your seat with a cup of tea in your hand, like Norman Bates."

    She laughed.

    I actually told the same joke to my dad before he died and he was fine with that, his one question was, "Who is Norman Bates?"

    We used to live locally, your bank manager, insurance agent and whatever would hear when you die. Computer says no.

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