Obtaining Funeral Costs from a Deceased Person's Estate

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A relative has died and their estate is at the probate court in Munich. I am abroad and having a very hard time contacting the court or anyone to pay the funeral costs from what might be left of the estate. I wondered if there was some formality, letter template or form to complete with the receipts of the funeral expenses that I paid? Do I really need a lawyer to do this or can I do this myself, if so how? If I need a lawyer how do I find an inexpensive one for this formality? Any advise would be amazing.

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funeral cost is to be paid out of the estate, before any remaining distribution to the heirs can be calculated.

 

How you can proceed would largely depend on what your relationship to the deceased is/was, if there is a will, if there are multiple heirs.... being out of the country, your best bet would be to have a specialized lawyer represent you. Unless you expect mostly "nothing" to come out of that - then you could just sit back, and wait. If your name is known to the court processing this estate, they'll contact you sooner or later. Most likely later. Expect to wait for around a year in a straight forward case.

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Many thanks @karin_brenig very much appreciated.

 

I guess my question now is, how do I best go about finding a lawyer that can merely help with obtaining the funeral costs from the probate court in Munich? Is there a list of approved lawyers that I should work through? Is there perhaps an point of advice that can aid in the proccess?

 

Before getting a lawyer how can I make the funeral costs known? The court is not responding via email be being abroad (another continent) makes post near imposible. Having said that, I did write a letter but got an email notification merely stating that they can't act on the letter. It's all odd. I wondered if there was some form or method that I am missing to merely provide the funeral costs and have them paid to me. I have all the legitimate receipts.

 

Has anyone else done this?

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 You might want to talk to the "Rechtspfleger" in charge. That may save the expense for a lawyer.

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it looks like you are doing the steps in "reverse"? 

 

How come you paid for somebody's funeral in a foreign country?

Are you the only living relative?

How did you learn of the probate court in Munich's involvement?

Is there a will? If so, is there a Testamentsvollstrecker?

Do you speak German?

 

@Jeba's idea is a good one! contact the Rechtspfleger in charge.

 

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On 06/07/2021, 10:46:35, karin_brenig said:

it looks like you are doing the steps in "reverse"? 

 

How come you paid for somebody's funeral in a foreign country?

The person was a dear relative that I would visit whenever in Germany, didn't concern me at the time that I was in another country, to pay for a funeral.

 

On 06/07/2021, 10:46:35, karin_brenig said:

Are you the only living relative?

I believe so, the person had a legal guardian. So, I would say there's no other relative.

 

On 06/07/2021, 10:46:35, karin_brenig said:

How did you learn of the probate court in Munich's involvement?

The care home the person was at told me.

 

On 06/07/2021, 10:46:35, karin_brenig said:

Is there a will? If so, is there a Testamentsvollstrecker?

Is there a way for me to easily check? I am not after any will, just the funeral costs.

 

On 06/07/2021, 10:46:35, karin_brenig said:

Do you speak German?

Very little, not well enough for legalities.

 

On 06/07/2021, 10:46:35, karin_brenig said:

 

@Jeba's idea is a good one! contact the Rechtspfleger in charge.

Yes, this person in charge is not willing to communicate by email. I sent a letter and all I get is an email reply saying that can't pay the costs, no further advice.

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On 06/07/2021, 09:41:43, jeba said:

 You might want to talk to the "Rechtspfleger" in charge. That may save the expense for a lawyer.

Good advice. I have just got a response from a letter I sent. But they are not happy to advise and are merely telling me to get a lawyer.

 

Is there anything like a citizens advice bureau in Germany or a way to merely register the funeral costs to be considered during probate?

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So get a lawyer.

 

The guy who represented me previously in a family/criminal case is actually a specialist in inheritance/probate law.  

 

Mrs Chelski went to him when I had my problem as she'd had previous experience with him re inheritance.

 

He certainly knew his way around family/criminal law eventhough it wasn't his pet subject.

 

He speaks English and you can do it all by email. He will know the right people to contact on your behalf with your claim.

 

But I can't remember his contact details. 

 

Mrs Chelski will be home in a couple hours. She'll know.

 

Watch this space...

 

 

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2 hours ago, Stuart O said:

Yes, this person in charge is not willing to communicate by email. I sent a letter and all I get is an email reply saying that can't pay the costs, no further advice.

Do you know if this person had funds available to pay for a funeral? Is it possible that they had nothing other than day to day money and there is no estate to claim against?

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14 hours ago, Stuart O said:

Yes, this person in charge is not willing to communicate by email. I sent a letter and all I get is an email reply saying that can't pay the costs, no further advice.

I´d still try to phone her. Maybe when talking to you in person, he/she will be more wiling to go the extra mile and explain the legal situation to you. Apart from that I haven´t understood yet what exactly you want the court to do? They won´t pay the funeral cost from taxpayer´s money. This has to be paid by the heirs. The state (not the court though, not sure which department) will only pay if there are no heirs or if they waive their inheritance claims so that the state will inherit. Are you having a problem getting a refund from the heirs? If so, the inheritance court won´t be able to help you. Then you´d have to sue them.

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On 06/07/2021, 14:41:58, Stuart O said:

...their estate is at the probate court in Munich...

 

Does that help?

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Just a question the person  who died and you arranged the funeral for .where you here in germany st that time to do this? If so then that asnswers all.  If not who contacted you about the death and requested you to arrange the funeral? And why woukd they not have contacted the guardian. Did you make the arrangements and pay directly to the funeral company? Or did someone in the home do this and you paid them? It would be rather unusual for the guardian not to arrange this  rather than you. 

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My understanding is that he did not arrange the funeral. He just paid for it. He was told about it by someone at the care home. Looks like he may be the only heir.

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ok - the story is a little confusing, but I'll try to explain how this "funeral cost" thing works.

 

In short: the cost for somebody's funeral is paid by their heirs.

 

once the probate court determines the value of the deceased person's estate, and notifies the heirs, the cost of the funeral can be taken out of that estate - and the remainder can be distributed amongst the heirs.

 

The questions in this particular case would be:

how much is the estate worth?
who are the heirs?

 

If the estate is worth less than what the funeral cost, the heirs would have to pay for the funeral out of their own pocket. If there are multiple heirs, there will be "formula" for how to divide the cost among them - we'll get into that detail later, once we know how many heirs there are, how much the estate is worth, and what exactly the relationship between OP and the deceased is/was.

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Add to that is that if heirs can not be found or contacted before the funeral, the state will sometimes just get on with it and will try to find heirs and bill them later.  I had a coworker who had to pay a portion of her brothers funeral where he was not in touch with any of his siblings and they did not even know that he died until after the funeral took place.

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From the OP's post, it does not seem that they are the heir. So, as much as you love the relative, why would you pay for the

funeral and not contact the guardian? 

Something does not sound right in this scenario.  Others have made the very valid point that costs are deducted from estate after probate.

 

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Good day all, thank you everyone for all your help.


Sorry for this late reply. I have taken a moment to quote your questions and answer them below.

 

On 09/07/2021, 22:59:07, jeba said:

Apart from that I haven´t understood yet what exactly you want the court to do?

To obtain the funeral costs from the deceased person's estate.

 

On 09/07/2021, 22:59:07, jeba said:

Are you having a problem getting a refund from the heirs?

I am not yet at this stage. I have found an heir and their guardian knows the costs of the funeral and knows that I would like to be reimbursed for these costs.

 

On 09/07/2021, 10:32:57, SusieT said:

Do you know if this person had funds available to pay for a funeral?

Yes, in the meantime I have found out from the care home that the deceased person has just enough funds to cover the funeral costs.

 

On 11/07/2021, 07:21:59, karin_brenig said:

how much is the estate worth?
who are the heirs?

Thanks @karin_brenig, this overview of the procedure has been most beneficial. To answer your questions; the estate is worth more than the funeral expenses and there is one heir that I know off. This person (their legal guardian) is aware of the funeral costs and that I covered them and would like to be reimbursed. I suppose the basic question is, how do I properly make the claim for the funeral costs - to the heir or the court, and how can I follow proceedings to ensure that I receive the costs?

 

On 11/07/2021, 07:30:43, LeonG said:

if heirs can not be found or contacted before the funeral, the state will sometimes just get on with it

Yes, this is what was going to happen. It was going to be a very poor funeral far from the family's resting place.

 

On 11/07/2021, 09:39:32, RedMidge said:

So, as much as you love the relative, why would you pay for the

funeral and not contact the guardian? 

Something does not sound right in this scenario.

I appreciate this is not a normal sinario and one that not many people would be inclined to get involved with. However, the guardian had no desire to do more than the very basic with regards to the funeral. Still thank you for your reply.

 

In summary; I am indeed a relative of the deceased - if only a distant one. I have no desire to receive any inheritance - only the costs for the funeral. I am in contact the  Rechtspflege but this person is not prepared to advise - stating only that I should involve a lawyer, which I do not want to incur further costs with. Having said this, I have contacted the lawyer which @Chelskikindly recommended. Perhaps this lawyer can offer some free or low cost help/advice. In the end, seeing as I can make an inheritance claim should I do this merely to instruct the court myself to pay me for the funeral costs from the deceased person's estate? Could I just leave it with the other more direct heir (rather, their legal guardian) to pay me for the funeral costs? And again, how do I correctly make these costs known to the heir and the court? At this state the heir (their guardian) has acknowledged the costs and the receipts thereof - is this sufficient.

 

Again, big thanks to you all, you have been a real big help.

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3 hours ago, Stuart O said:

At this state the heir (their guardian) has acknowledged the costs and the receipts thereof

Do you know already that he will not reimburse you? I´d send him a demand for reimbursement in writing (registered with "Rückschein") within a reasonable deadline. If you don´t do that before involving a lawyer you may have to pay for the lawyer yourself as they could claim to not have been aware that you insist on reimbursement.

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