JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- You've heard it before: Death and taxes are inevitable.
In other words now is as good a time as any to plan your funeral costs and control the burden of that expense; the national funeral directors association said the average cost of a funeral in 2009 was $6,560.
"You need to plan ahead," said Jerry Nackashi, an owner of the Corey-Kerlin Funeral Home.
So here are my top 10 ways to cut the high cost of dying.
Know your rights. If you know what you're entitled to, it can save you a lot of hassle and thousands of dollars. The place to begin is with the Florida Division of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services.
Preplan. Talk to your family about your death. It won't be the most pleasant conversation, but it will ensure your family knows your wishes. You can detail those wishes in a note and give a copy to your family and your lawyer, if you have one.
If there was no preplanning and you have to make that decision for a loved one, do not go to the funeral home alone. Take an advocate, someone who is not emotionally attached, like a friend or your pastor. That person should be able to look at the arrangements objectively and make sure you don't overpay.
Shop around. Many funeral providers put their "general price list" online. The casket is likely to be your biggest expense or next to it; compare prices to avoid a big market. There are many independent retailers like Costco and Walmart; under the law, the funeral home has to accept "outside" caskets.
Use your veterans benefits. The VA offers many burial benefits for honorably discharged veterans. The benefits include a gravesite in one of the national cemeteries, a headstone and perpetual care. Spouses and dependents also are eligible for burial in a national cemetery
Donate your body to science. Universities will often pay to transport a willed body to their medical schools. They also reserve the right to reject a body; if that happens you will have to pay the transportation costs.
Cremate. The biggest money-saver is direct cremation, according to the funeral industry. There's no cemetery plot, headstone, grave opening or closing costs.
One growing trend in funeral services is casket rentals. It saves money, but be sure to always weigh the cost of renting versus buying, especially if you're going to be cremated.
Embalming is not necessary. The family can have a private viewing, but for any public service, the casket would remain closed.
To cut the high cost of dying, join a non profit funeral association. They usually contract with funeral homes to provide services at a fixed price.
First Coast News