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What do you think the biggest cost is when you die? Taxes? Probate? Wrong! In many cases the biggest cost is the funeral. That's right, today the average cost runs between $8000 and $12,000! And in some cases the cost can be even more. The biggest cost of the funeral typically is the casket. A price tag of $2000 or more is not unusual. But there are even more costs. Once you add in the transportation of the body to the funeral home, embalming, transporting the body and the family to the cemetery, use of the funeral home facilities for the viewing and the ceremony, printing the memorial booklet, the vault into which the casket goes, and then the funeral home "basic services" fee, the cost can rise to many thousands of dollars. This list doesn’t even include the cemetery plot, grave marker, flowers, and luncheon. Plus, what will the cost be if you want to be buried far from where you reside, or you die while traveling?

What's a good consumer to do? Life insurance can help, but there's more you can do. Most important, read the contract from the funeral home and make sure you understand everything before you sign. Always ask a lot of questions, and shop around. The prices, services and terms vary widely between funeral homes. If you are interested in a particular funeral package, always make sure you get a written price quote. Don't let yourself be pushed into a comprehensive package that includes services you don't need or want. Additionally, watch out for subtle high pressure sales, especially with respect to the casket. The funeral home may push you to a more expensive casket, describing other less expensive options in derogatory terms.

There are also other funeral options to consider. One is cremation. This is an increasingly popular option, which can cost a fraction of a traditional burial. Today more than a third of all funerals are cremations. Another option you may consider is a "green" funeral, often with the burial in an open field with markers made from local rock. A simple burial in a simple wood box without chemicals or a concrete vault will be a lot less expensive. Most people spend more time shopping for the right television set than they do choosing a funeral.

Maybe you should take action today! Not sure where to start? First, check out the options. Talk to several funeral homes to gather the information you need. Then after you have decided upon your personal options of choice, talk to your family and let them know your wishes. You might even want to consider prepaying for your funeral now, instead of leaving it to your family to make all the arrangements under a tight time frame, while they are grieving. You can save a lot of money, and avoid hassles and frustrations during a time of grief, by doing your funeral shopping now.

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