Solicitor issued summons as council chased dead man’s tax bill before his funeral

John Storer of CDA Solicitors, Boston, recieved summons for friends council tax bill five days after notifying them of his friends death.
John Storer of CDA Solicitors, Boston, recieved summons for friends council tax bill five days after notifying them of his friends death.

A solicitor received an apology after being summoned to court to pay a dead man’s council tax bill before his funeral has even been held.

John Storer, of Criminal Defence Associates, in Boston, was the executor of an acquaintance’s estate when he died on June 19.

The next day Mr Storer found a summons from Boston Borough Council for the man to attend court for council tax arrears.

He said: “He had spent the last couple of months in a hospice so I phoned the council to explain the situation.”

Following this, they sent out an amended demand for the tax, valued at £41.35, however Mr Storer ‘thought nothing of it’, thinking he could leave it at least until the man had been buried - on Thursday of this week.

However, six days after the man died, and five days after Mr Storer had notified the council of the situation, he received a summons to court.

Mr Storer said he couldn’t believe it.

“If I was family and I got the summons before the lad had been buried I’d have been distraught,” he said.

“Why are they even issuing a summons to people five days after a demand? They’re not even giving people a chance to pay.”

Following the discussions and a phone call by Mr Storer, the council withdrew the summons and apologised to him.

A spokesman said: “We accept that, on this occasion and in these circumstances, we were too hasty in trying to recover the debt and should have made provisions to prevent the automatic recovery process that occurs when council tax is left unpaid.

“This does inevitably lead to the issue of a summons when the debt remains unpaid following reminders. However, it is proper that we do attempt to recover funds owed to the public purse.

“We will review the process to ensure that an incident like this does not happen again.”