French man wrongly declared dead fights to prove life

A man from near Albi in the Tarn (Occitanie), who was wrongly declared dead, is having to prove he is still alive to the French authorities.

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Louis Palacios, aged 74, is having to fight to receive his pension and social security after police found a dead body in a caravan, on land belonging to him, reported French news source France 3 today.

With apparently no other information to go on, police were told by nearby “dropouts” that the body was of Palacios himself, and the police then officially declared him dead.

Except - Palacios was, and is, still very much alive.

Yet, because official records show him to be deceased, he has been automatically cut off from all public funds due to him, and is also unable to validate his driving license or access his own bank accounts.

The dead body was later confirmed to be a homeless man who had been staying in the caravan on Palacios’ land for years, with no suspicious circumstances.

While the authorities appeared quick to declare Palacios dead, it is currently taking much longer to declare him alive again.

This is because the only way he can obtain a “certificate of life” to confirm he is still alive, is to appear before the local magistrate in nearby Albi to confirm the cancellation of the death declaration and prove he is still very much here.

The hearing is set for this Monday, but even then, Palacios will still need to wait 14 days before he will be confirmed as legally alive.

A similar dilemna is the subject of Honoré de Balzac's 1844 novel Le Colonel Chabert, where a war hero declared dead turns out not to be and has to fight to prove who he is, much to the inconvenience of his wife who in the meantime has collected her inheritance and married an artistocrat.

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