All too often, the elderly scrimp and save in order to pass on some of their hard-earned money to their children in their wills. Unfortunately, upon their death, the children often spend that money on a funeral the deceased would have found obscenely expensive. If you don't want to see your estate gobbled up after your death by the funeral industry, consider joining your local affiliate of the Funeral Consumers Alliance or a similar group.

The FCA is a not-for-profit organization with local affiliates that pre-negotiate reasonably priced funerals for its members with local funeral homes. It also provides information to the public about how to find the most cost effective services, monitors trends and exposes abuses. The national organization serves over 100 local affiliates, and also provides information to many local associations formed for the same purpose but not formal affiliates of FCA.

Why is such an organization necessary? A recent survey by the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Central Ohio showed that embalming fees ranged, depending on the home, from $320 - $695. Again depending on the funeral home, cremation could cost $880 - $2691. A viewing could cost anywhere from $100 - $625, a funeral $275 - $625.

Pretend for a moment that, instead of funeral expenses, these were automobile repair prices. Would you tolerate such huge disparities?

Membership in a local group is usually very inexpensive -- where my wife and I joined, it's only $40 for life. When we die, our loved ones won't have to go through the trial of arranging (and possibly overpaying for) funeral costs; they'll simply call one of the funeral homes with a standing fixed-price agreement with our local group.

I'd much rather see any money left in my estate (as if!) go to making someone's life better. I don't need a fancy box to shuffle me off into the hereafter. In fact, I've long joked that Tupperware should make a casket, so they could just burp and bury me.

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The real solution to paying funeral and final expenses is through affordable whole life insurance (aka final expense or burial insurance). The more educated people 45 and older are about permanent insurance with guaranteed premiums the more likely families of the deceased will be able to afford the kind of funeral their loved ones really envisioned for themselves. I read so much about life insurance for the so-called rich in the US, but the average person needs guaranteed premium whole life. The cash value that builds up in these kinds of policies is notinvestment as Wall Street would have you believe. The cash value usually is used to keep a policy in force when the premium payor misses a payment due to illness or loss of income. Today, the more medical question a person answers truthfully on an insurance application, the more coverage a person may be able to qualify for. This is the exact opposite of what some popular gameshow hosts would have you believe as they sell insurance on televison. Get educated and purchase permanent whole life and we'll read fewer stories about the elderly having to sell their belongings to pay for funerals. Albert DeAngelo, Senior Insurance, Inc. Since 1986, 561-827-7969,

February 17 2013 at 7:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply