A WATERLOO man opened a letter from the Inland Revenue which said he had died.
Alan Bell, 67, received the letter on April 1 which was addressed to a ‘Personal Representative of the Late Mr A Bell’.
But the letter was anything but an April Fool’s joke.
Inside, Mr Bell found a series of documents, forms and a letter which said: “I have recently been notified of the death of the above named (The Late Mr Alan Bell). Please accept my sincere condolences for your loss.”
Mr Bell has Parkinson’s – a progressive neurological condition which can affect movements – and was left upset by the letter.
His wife Susan , 62, said: “We were both upset when he opened it and saw what it was.
“It’s obviously a mistake but it shouldn’t happen.
“They have no idea who they are sending these letters to and what effect it will have on people so they need to check things more carefully.”
The letter went on to say that it can be “distressing” for Mr Bell’s representative to deal with paperwork in the circumstances.
And it asks for his personal representative to send details of his financial estate from April 2008 to the date of his death and declare income received in that time.
The letter then goes on to say that the Inland Revenue will use the details to check how much tax is owed to them or has been overpaid.
Mr Bell served in the Army when he was younger and later worked at the Birchencliffe Garden Centre until his retirement.
He has had Parkinson’s for three years.
He is a keen gardener and the couple have been been married for 43 years. They have three children – one son and two daughters.
Mrs Bell, a former cleaner at Morrisons, added: “I am disgusted by it.
“It’s all well and good for them to send the letter out then apologise when they are told they’ve made a mistake.
“But it could happen time and time again to other people and be upsetting for them too and I don’t want that to happen.
“It upset us both when he received it.
“I try to keep him going and keep his spirits up but to receive a letter like this out of the blue was distressing to him.”
A spokeswoman for HM Revenue and Customs who sent the letter said it was a standard letter sent when they are notified of the death of a taxpayer.
But she said that did not excuse the fact it has been sent to someone in error and was looking into the mistake.