The son, the mother-in-law and the funeral expenses

Iuring the Day of the Dead, Wednesday November 2, many families will go to lay flowers in a grave. Raphaël X, he will surely not go to that of his father, Robert, whom he still refuses to pay, although he has been condemned to do so, in the following circumstances.

On January 21, 2016, at 12:15 p.m., Robert died of cancer. His PACS partner, Juanita Cassiet, who watched over him day and night, immediately informed Raphaël, who had settled in the United States. She explains to him that he must organize the funeral within six working days. Raphaël asks him – orally – to “take care of everything” and promises to reimburse it when he returns to France.

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Mme Cassiet, an actress with modest incomes, therefore advances the necessary costs. She could ask Robert’s bank to reimburse her for the funeral bill, as permitted by the monetary and financial code (article L312-1-4). But “Robert had no money in his current account, because he had invested everything”she explains.

Mr. X, who arrived in France on January 26, 2016, left the next day, without paying anything. Although his father’s estate includes more than 200,000 euros in life insurance premiums, a death capital supposed to finance the funeral, as well as several vehicles, the young man refuses to reimburse Mme Cassiet the 6,258 euros he owes him – 2,407 euros for the cremation, 2,145 euros for the catering costs of the guests and 1,706 euros for the insurance of the vehicles – and criticizes him for not having asked him to validate these expenses.

Rules of politeness

On June 16, 2017, Cassiet therefore takes him to court. His lawyer, Mr.e Martine Wolff, could invoke the articles of the civil code (205 and 371) which require children to pay for their parents’ funerals. But it chooses those (articles 1301 and following) which regulate the “business management” : the person who has interfered in the affairs of another, without having been authorized to do so, but in order to render him a service, taking into account, in this case, his geographical remoteness and the urgency to act, must to be reimbursed if his actions have been “useful”.

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The magistrates of first instance judge, on 1er July 2019, that all expenses incurred by Cassiet were “useful”. They feel that “the resistance put up by the defendant, in addition to revealing an obvious lack of elegance with regard to the estate’s assets, is perfectly abusive”. They order Mr. X to pay, in addition to reimbursement, 3,000 euros in damages.

He appealed… which allowed him to pay nothing. The Aix-en-Provence Court of Appeal confirms, on June 15 (2022), that it cannot “to reproach (Mme Cassiet) to have supplemented him in the steps that he should have taken on himself”.

It validates the costs ” accessories “ funerals, “in this case the notice published in a local newspaper, the thanks and the restaurant costs on the day of the ceremony”Who “relevant to the customs and politeness towards the relatives of his father and the people who surrounded him until his last days”. She specifies that Mr. X “could not, despite his remoteness, ignore either the rules of politeness consisting in thanking or the customs of reception after (ceremony)these usages also being in force in his country of residence..

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It further notes that, despite the numerous supporting documents produced by Cassiet, “Mr. X has not reimbursed any expenses, preferring to persist in the conflict for more than five years”. Judging his behavior “dilatory”she condemns him to a “civil fine” of 3,000 euros.

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Mme Cassiet still hasn’t seen anything. Mr. X’s lawyers have just informed him that he “may refuse” to enforce the appeal decision if it does not have it translated − at its expense − into English “in the official language of his country of residence”. New cost: 240 euros.

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