The BBC today has a fantastic story about Donald Miller, an American man who had disappeared for 8 years, was declared legally dead in 1994, then reappeared in 2005, having been drifting and moving from place to place since 1986.
Because he’d been declared legally dead, his ‘widow’ was given his Social Security death benefits, so when he reappeared – and I’m reading between the lines a little – it looks like they’ve tried to claim that back.
However, because he’s been ‘dead’ so long, that decision can’t be resolved or overturned. Apparently it can be within three years (which is pretty mind-boggling in itself) but not after 19 years – unsurprisingly.
What this means is that Donald Miller remains legally dead.
Of course, my mind went off on a tangent at that point, and thought about how cool this actually is. (in some ways) I wonder what would happen if (for example) he robbed a bank. Could a legally-dead person be charged with a crime? Could it go to court? I suspect not. Even fingerprint checks would – as I understand it – come back as being those of a dead person. And what happens when he does actually die?
It’s all a very odd story, based around odd tenets of law. And I suspect we haven’t heard the last of it.