Burial costs: Additional burden for survivors

As banal as it sounds, a funeral is not just a matter of putting a coffin or urn under the ground or a grave plate. Rather, there are various service providers who need to be charged for a funeral. Each of these service providers has its own bill, which is included in the total cost of a funeral.

This is how funeral costs are put together

Funeral expenses are composed of different partial bills:

  1. Tombstone: For the planning, the design and the setting up a stonemason is usually commissioned.
  2. Coffin / Urn: Depending on the type of funeral, a funeral home will be commissioned to prepare the body for the funeral.
  3. Tomb design and planting: A gardener is commissioned with the design of the tomb.
  4. Funeral: The funeral is usually organized by yourself. Here relatives usually opt for a restaurant or a café.
  5. Grave decorations at funeral: flowers or arrangements for the funeral itself are purchased from a gardener or florist.
  6. Grave rent: For the grave use arise fees, which must be paid in advance in advance to the cemetery administration.

After that, the costs of a funeral are set

Regardless of the individual positions and service providers, there are other factors that may influence the amount of funeral expenses:

  • Funeral method: The one who chooses an urn burial is usually allowed to pay less than a coffin burial.
  • Place of burial: The maintenance costs for a grave depend, for example, on the popularity of a cemetery and on the region or district in which a relative is buried.
  • Type of grave: The burial in an existing family grave is usually cheaper for relatives than in a newly created single grave. In addition, the design of the grave system plays a crucial role in the amount of the costs.
  • Scope of the Undertaker’s desired benefits: relatives can influence the price by selecting the coffin or the clothing of the dead.

Basically, in all decisions for or against individual service providers that no one has to justify, if he wants to save or if he decides on the contrary for a very extensive equipment of the grave.

Ultimately it is up to each heir or payer to decide for which variant he decides or which variant he chooses in the sense of the deceased person. There is no right or wrong

Who has to bear the burial costs?

The compulsory cost of a funeral is regulated in paragraph 1968 of the Civil Code in one of the shortest legal norms ever. There it says simply:

1968 Civil Code


“The heir bears the cost of the deceased’s funeral.”


Thus, the heirs of a deceased person must pay for the cost of their funeral. The obligation to bear the cost depends on the legal succession, according to which the direct relatives are considered first.

However, there is one exception: if there is a contractual obligation in the form of a death benefit insurance or other insurance, it must bear the costs of the funeral.

Order of payers at a funeral

  1. Contracted entities or persons
  2. Inherit
  3. Debtor
  4. Publicly obliged

For example, if a legacy is knocked out, order of the payers may change.

Costs can be claimed!


If the burial of the deceased has already been commissioned by the municipality, the costs can be claimed by the persons responsible for the care of the dead.


Funeral expenses at a glance

 Funeral expenses at a glance

To get an indication of the total cost of a funeral, here are the individual cost items summarized as examples:

Post amount
Funeral home (cremation, urn burial, coffin burial) about 2,500 euros
graveyard about 2,500 euros
stonemason about 3,500 euros
Grave planting / cemetery gardener about 250 euros
Florists (mourning wreath, flowers) about 300 euros
Further costs (funeral service, funeral dinner) about 1200 euros
total cost about 10,250 euros

The price range of a funeral generally ranges from approximately 7,000 euros to 11,000 euros. Depending on the selection of the individual service providers, significantly higher amounts may be incurred.

Costs of funeral home

The cost of the funeral home is about one third of the total funeral expenses. This proportion is justified if the scope of the work done by it is taken into account. Thus, the undertaker is responsible not only for the preparation of the body, but also for the burial on the day of the funeral and the transfer of the deceased.

So the costs for the funeral home are broken down

  • Cost of coffin or urn: Depending on the type of funeral, a coffin or urn is chosen by the undertaker. The cost of caskets can be influenced by the type of wood, the fittings or the workmanship. In urns, it is especially the over-the-wall, which is designed in a special way. Here it is mainly the design of the urn, which influences the price.
  • Death clothing: If the body is buried in a coffin, the undertaker needs appropriate clothing. Frequently, special items of clothing are selected from the undertaker, which are also used for a Aufbahrung.
  • Transfer: The undertaker provides for the transportation of the dead, for example, from the forensic medicine to the cemetery or the funeral home for the preparation of the funeral.
  • Hygienic care of the deceased: When dealing with the deceased special hygienic measures must be taken. The same applies to the preparation for the funeral. The funeral home must comply with these regulations.
  • Formalities / Administration: On request, funeral companies take over all important formalities around the funeral. They communicate with the cemetery administration as well as agencies or the crematorium to get the necessary forms.

Overall, you must plan for the funeral home usually at least 2,500 euros. However, you can save money by getting and comparing different offers. In addition, individual items can be done by yourself. Thus, the heirs can take care of the formalities or provide for a proper death clothing.

In practice, however, many relatives are grateful that the funeral home company takes many steps. This also applies if these additional services are associated with additional costs.

Steinmetz costs

The cost of a stonemason can vary greatly. Because here are very different aspects in the pricing with a. If an artist is commissioned with the design of a grave plate or a tombstone, the costs can rise significantly.

In addition, it plays an important role, which materials are used for the stonework. For example, granite will be cheaper than marble. At the same time, the size of the tomb is also important for the calculation of Steinmetzkosten. Ultimately, the amount of billing also depends on how many more services the Steinmetz takes over.

The following components can be included in the cost of the stonemason:

  • Gravestone: Size, texture, material, processing and artistic design play an important role here. Anyone who chooses a standard solution will be able to save money.
  • Caption: How much the stonemason demands for his work depends, for example, on how much font is to be carved or whether this font is decorated.
  • Grave border : There are various possibilities for grave bordering, everything is possible, from narrow stone borders to elaborate metalwork.
  • Erecting / relocating the gravestone: The stonemason usually also takes over the erection of the gravestone. If a community grave is used, he moves existing tombstones. The more complex this work becomes, the higher the bill becomes.
  • Transport costs: If a stonemason is chosen locally, the transport costs may be lower than with far away working craftsmen.

Ask friends and relatives for help


It may be useful to ask friends and relatives if they want to contribute to the costs of the stonemason if you can not afford enough money for a proper tombstone yourself.


Funeral expenses: Cemetery gardener and florist

A funeral costs both one-time and regular costs.

  • Care of the grave facility: It is usually taken over by the cemetery gardener. To the achievements belong
    • The permanent grave design: Graveyard gardeners, for example, make funeral ornaments on special days on the grave.
    • Annual Grave Care: The graveyard gardeners keep the grave area free of leaves or dirt. In addition, cut bushes or remove withered flowers.
  • Costs of the florist for the funeral:
    • wreaths
    • coffin jewelry
    • Flowers in Aussegnungshalle and at the grave

Relatives can save on tomb care by taking care of themselves. However, you should ask yourself if you are capable of doing so and if you can afford the necessary time and effort. For example, no one is served when a grave is only moderately maintained and increasingly neglected.

Cost of funeral service

The cost of the funeral can vary greatly. On the one hand, they depend on the number of guests and, on the other, on the way in which the party is organized and organized. The cost of a memorial service can be between 300 and over 1,000 euros.

The following items play a role in the funeral:

  • Funeral / Pastor: For the funeral you have to reckon with costs that are due for the pastor and a possible funeral orator. The cost usually starts from about 120 euros.
  • Obituary: A death notice in the newspaper can also be included in the cost. For this you have to expect prices from 200 euros.
  • Live music / organ: If you want live music or organ pieces, you can add at least 50 euros to the total cost. The more professional the musicians, the more expensive this post becomes.
  • Catering: If you organize a funeral meal in a tavern, you usually have to expect about 30 to 50 guests.

So you can save at the mourning-free


If you organize the funeral meal yourself and, for example, ask guests to bring you a cake, you can save money. In addition, a party can become more personal and intimate if no inn or café is selected.

In many cases it is not absolutely necessary to hire a funeral orator. Good friends or relatives can also give a speech. The background music can also be played by the band.


Finance the funeral

 Finance the funeral

If you do not have the financial means to pay for a funeral completely, there are various ways to finance it.

  • Installment at the Funeral Home: Most Undertakers offer installment payments to their customers. You can already distribute around one third of the total costs over several months.
  • Bank credit: For the funeral, you can take out a conventional consumer credit . However, the same conditions apply as for all other loans. This means that you must have a sufficient credit rating. In addition, a regulated income is required and you must have a residence in Germany.

The destitute are entitled to a funeral


Those who are liable to pay but can not bear the funeral costs, for example because they are unemployed, can apply for a social burial. This is possible even if the bank has refused a loan. A refusal may also be evidence that the applicants are destitute.

The application must be made to the responsible social welfare office. The office then examines salary and income. It can then provide an interest-free funeral loan.

Unemployed Hartz IV recipients have the opportunity to contact their responsible job center directly at a funeral. If they have been denied credit, the office is obliged to reimburse a social burial et.


Deduct burial costs from the tax

 Deduct burial costs from the tax

Burial costs can be deducted from the tax if they are higher than the actual heir.

  • Debt liabilities: In general, the following costs can be deducted from the tax return, as these are “debts” that the heirs inherited from the deceased.
    • Invoice from funeral home
    • Invoice from the stonemason
    • Bill from the cemetery

These costs are not counted and can not be deducted:

  • entertainment expenses
  • Travel expenses to the funeral
  • Cost of the mourning clothes

The costs listed above represent an extraordinary burden for the heirs if they exceed the value of the heritage. The condition for claiming the tax is that the costs were actually paid for legal or moral reasons.

The maximum amount that can be claimed as an exceptional burden under the Inheritance Tax and Gift Tax Act is a lump sum of 10,300 euros. In the income tax return, a maximum of EUR 7,500 may be deducted for tax purposes that exceed the estate value.

Burial costs higher than estate


If the heirs receive € 7,000 from the deceased’s estate, but the funeral costs are € 10,000, € 3,000 can be claimed for tax purposes as an extraordinary charge.


The extraordinary charges are entered in the main form on the third page in lines 67 or 68. For the consideration you should have appropriate receipts and proof of payment.

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