What would you do if you got a letter in the mail demanding you pay back the cost of burying a parent you hadn’t seen or talked to in years? What if that parent had been abusive or even let go of the right to be your parent? Most might argue that you shouldn’t pay for the cost of burying them, but a German court has a different idea all together.
Children will always be obliged to bury their parents irregardless of their family relations.
This was recently decided by the higher administrative court of Lüneburg (Case No.: LA 8 150/12) and the Association of the German Inheritance Law Bar Association (DAV).
The court decided that children are liable to pay for the burial costs of their parents. The court further stated that it didn’t not matter what the status of the personal relationship between the child and the parent at the time of death was.
This court ruling was made following a complaint from a man who was told to refund 2,500€ funeral expenses that were incurred by a local government that had buried his father. The man refused to do so and decided to take his complaint to court on the grounds that when his father was alive he was abusive towards him and his mother. As a result of the father’s abusive behaviour, his parents divorced and his mother was given sole custody. He further argued that since the divorce he never had any contact with his father thus he was not liable to pay for his burial.
However the courts did not uphold his complaint that someone’s duty to bury their parent comes to an end in case of divorce when custody has been withdrawn.
The court argued that he was still his father’s son. And it is this relationship between children and their parents that presupposes the duty to bury their parents. In dismissing his complaint the court said that the son’s arguments that the burial duty could be eliminated in the case of a divorce or the withdrawal of custody could not be justified. Therefore this man was liable to reimburse the costs of the burial to the local government.