Web Wealth: Planning your funeral

Funeral Consumers Alliance site calls itself the "Consumer Reports for the funeral business." It offers reports on how the funeral industry operates.

Want to have a great funeral? Plan it and pay for it, or at least set aside the money - long before your date with destiny. These sites offer guidelines and specific tips on knowing the costs.

Funeral rights. The Federal Trade Commission provides consumers with this page titled, "Paying Final Respects: Your Rights When Buying Funeral Goods & Services." It outlines rights under the FTC-enforced "Funeral Rule," which includes your right to itemized price lists from funeral homes, and your right to use a cardboard or other "alternative container" for cremation.


Funeral financing. Shopping for a funeral may sound macabre, but doing it now could save you and your family thousands of dollars. Bankrate.com provides a quick outline on how to decide what you want, knowing your legal rights, and figuring out how to pay. One suggestion: Put funeral money in a joint savings account. The site says funeral costs averaged $7,323 in 2006, and "deluxe" funerals topped $10,000.


Cremation association. Cremation, which is now used about 25 percent of the time, is generally a less-expensive way to go, and can cost as little as $800. At the site of the Cremation Association of North America, you can search for "death-care professionals in your area." By the way, the association has a link to the Transportation Security Administration's rules for taking cremated remains as carry-on baggage on an airline. They are allowed, but only if the X-ray machine can see inside the urn. Screeners will not open an urn "in respect to the deceased," the TSA says.


Funeral consumers. The Funeral Consumers Alliance describes itself as the "Consumer Reports for the funeral business." Articles, such as "Caskets: Everything the Mortician Won't Tell You and Some Better Places to Shop," provide eye-opening reports on how the funeral industry operates. The same article provides links to providers of such items as low-cost plywood-and-pine casket kits, and biodegradable urns.


Contact staff writer Reid Kanaley at 215-854-5114 or rkanaley@phillynews.com.