Organ donation admittedly isn't a major financial topic, but it's a major consideration that does have some financial aspects to it. Take a few minutes to learn a little more and to give it some thought.

When the time comes and you or a loved one passes away, by donating organs and tissues, something good can result from the death. Someone with a desperate need for a heart, or cornea, or liver (among many things) can have a dream come true. In many cases, it's literally a matter of life or death. There are long lists of critically ill people waiting for organs, and there aren't enough donated organs to go around. By donating your organs, you may save several lives!

Here are some things to know:

  • Acceptable donors range in age from newborns to senior citizens.

  • If you want to donate your organs, you'll need to: (a) indicate that on your driver's license, (b) carry an organ donor card, and/or (c) tell your family. Informing your family of your wishes is vital, because sometimes there can be confusion at the time of death. Don't let your grieving loved ones make the wrong decision or spend time fretting over what your wishes would be.

  • Donation doesn't disfigure a body. An open casket will still be a possibility.

  • If you're an organ donor, doctors and hospitals shouldn't treat you any differently. Don't expect to receive less care.

  • There is often an extra need for organs and tissues of minorities, as transplants often are more successful when made between members of the same ethnic or racial group.

  • The donation of organs and tissues does not cost the donor anything.

A final option you might consider is donating your entire body to science. There are several benefits to total body donation. For starters, it can lead to medical progress. At the very least, a body can be used to train future doctors. It can also be used in research. Both healthy and sick bodies can be used. Another benefit is financial. By donating a body, there's usually no need to buy a casket or cemetery plot, or to pay for cremation. Alternatively, some schools or institutions will cremate or bury the body for you after the research is concluded. If you're interested in donating your body to a particular institution, contact it.

Learn more about organ (and body) donation here:

Learn more about last-days planning from the Funeral Consumers Alliance and the long but enlightening Funerals and Ripoffs. Also, check out our previous "Ask the Fools" on how much funerals cost and how to plan your will. Finally, a good (though not entirely unbiased) resource for learning about estate planning issues is Estate Planning Links.