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Glossary

Funeral Basics Glossary: P, Q, R

By Glossary

As with any profession, the funeral profession has its jargon, a specialized vocabulary unique to the business. Only those intimately familiar with the profession know what everything actually means. At times, this can be a problem because people need to be able to understand in order to make good decisions. Therefore, the need for a glossary! Hopefully, it will help you better understand any future conversations you may have with funeral professionals.

P

Pallbearers

The individuals who are responsible for carrying the casket of the deceased. Typically, there are four to eight pallbearers, and they can be whomever you want. Most often, they are friends and family members. The funeral home can help arrange for pallbearers if needed.

Perpetual Care Trust Funds

A portion of the burial plot cost set aside in a trust fund for the ongoing care of the burial plot.

Personalization

A growing trend in funeral planning. The main idea is to make each funeral personalized and unique to the person who has died, rather than have cookie-cutter type funerals.

Physical Memorial

See Headstone.

Plot

An area of ground in a cemetery used for the interment of human remains. See also Burial Plot and Cemetery Plot.

Power of Attorney (POA)

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives someone you choose the power to act on your behalf if you ever become mentally incapacitated. A Power of Attorney document is sometimes called a “Durable” Power of Attorney for medical care and finances. A Durable Power of Attorney simply means that the document stays in effect if you become incapacitated and are unable to handle matters on your own. Ask a trusted friend or loved one to accept this responsibility.

Prayer Card

A card with a prayer or poem on it, handed out to guests at a funeral. Normally, the card has a picture of the deceased and their birth and death date.

Prearrangements

Advance funeral plans are sometimes referred to as prearrangements. Prearrangement offers a detailed record of a person’s funeral wishes, including service types, merchandise selections, and cash advance items (third-party charges such as flowers, cemetery property, police escort, etc.)

Prefunded Funeral Plan

A prepaid or prefunded funeral plan establishes a written and funded document or policy that covers the costs of funeral, cremation or burial expenses.

Preneed Plan

Refers to the written funeral wishes of an individual. Though not required, it can be a prepaid or prefunded insurance plan that establishes a written and funded document or policy that covers the costs of funeral, cremation or burial expenses.

Prepaid Funeral Insurance Plan

A prepaid or prefunded insurance plan establishes a written and funded document or policy that covers the costs of funeral, cremation or burial expenses.

Preparation Room

When a loved one has died and is tranferred into the care of a funeral home, the body is taken to the preparation room for care and preparation, including embalming, dressing, cosmetics, and placement in a casket for burial.

Premium

A premium is the periodic payment required to keep an insurance policy in force.

Presidential Memorial Certificate

A certificate signed by the current President of the United States, given in memory of a deceased veteran’s service to the country.

Private Family Estate

This term refers to land that is privately owned by a family. Sometimes families have buried or cremated remains of deceased relatives on private family estates.

Private Family Mausoleum

A mausoleum built to hold multiple deceased individuals from the same family.

Private Service

A funeral service attended only by close family and friends that is not made open to the public.

Private Viewing

A viewing of the open casket, available only for close friends and immediate family.

Probate

A court-supervised process by which a person’s assets are transferred to beneficiaries. If no will is in place, probate court decides how to distribute or transfer assets when a deceased person has a measurable estate.

Procession

A procession to the graveside helps families transition from the funeral service to the committal service and provides a symbol of unity and support, as friends and family travel together to the graveside. Most community members also choose to stop and allow the procession to pass out respect for the grieving family.

Q

R

Register Book

A sign-in book for guests who attend the visitation, memorial, or funeral, which gives family members a record of everyone who attended the funeral events.

Remains

A term used to refer to a person’s body after death.

Removal

A term referring to the transfer of a deceased person’s body into the care of a funeral professional from the place of death.

Rental Casket

A ceremonial casket that is used only for public viewings or funeral services. The rental casket is able to hold a second cremation or alternative casket as an insert. Once the funeral ceremony is completed, the smaller, less ornate interior casket is removed and transferred to the cemetery or crematory for final disposition. A rental casket can offer a less expensive, more environmentally friendly option for families who desire a funeral ceremony prior to cremation or green burial.

Retort

The cremation chamber at a crematory used for final disposition.

Funeral Basics Glossary: S, T, U

By Glossary

As with any profession, the funeral profession has its jargon, a specialized vocabulary unique to the business. Only those intimately familiar with the profession know what everything actually means. At times, this can be a problem because people need to be able to understand in order to make good decisions. Therefore, the need for a glossary! Hopefully, it will help you better understand any future conversations you may have with funeral professionals.

S

Scattering Garden

A specific area designated for the scattering of ashes. Normally, a scattering garden is located at a cemetery.

Scattering Service

A ceremony honoring the deceased by the dispersion of their ashes.

Selection Room

See Display Room.

Service Car

A car used to carry any equipment and decorations necessary for a funeral or memorial service.

Show Room

See Display Room.

Survivors

A term most often given to any family members who remain living after someone has died.

Sympathy Card

A message sent to someone who has recently lost a loved one, expressing condolences.

T

Tent

See Canopy.

Term Life Insurance

Term Life Insurance offers insurance benefits coverage for a limited number of years. It expires without value if the insured lives for the duration of the defined period and is often a term of five to 20 years.

Tomb

A large vault or chamber used as a final resting place. It is normally an above-ground structure as opposed to a grave that is below the ground.

Tombstone

See Headstone.

Transit Permit

A legal document granting permission for the deceased to be taken to a cemetery. The local government issues these permits. Depending on the city’s specific rules, an additional permit may be required if the deceased is to be cremated.

Transportation of Deceased

See Hearse.

Trust

A trust establishes a set of written directions determined by its creator, called the “settlor.” A valid trust must include trust provisions, a trustee, a beneficiary, and assets transferred to the trust. A trust consists of specific directions written by its creator, instructing the trustee how to hold property or assets for a beneficiary.

Trustee

A trustee is the person who manages a trust. The primary trustee is the initial manager of the trust. A successor trustee takes over after the initial manager resigns or is incapacitated or deceased.

U

Undertaker

A person who “undertakes” the task of preparing a body for burial or cremation and makes arrangements for the funeral. Also called a mortician or funeral director.

Urn

A decorative or functional container used for storing the remains of a cremated body. Urns can be made from almost any material, including glass, wood, ceramic, or metal. Urns may also be biodegradable if they are to be buried in the earth or at sea.

Urn Ark

A large, decorative box made of wood with glass panels that is used to hold and carry an urn throughout a funeral and committal ceremony.

Urn Garden

An area dedicated to the burial of urns. Plots are generally much smaller than full-sized burial plots.

Urn Placement

The committal of an urn to its final place of rest, such as in a columbarium, niche, urn garden, or private family estate.

Funeral Basics Glossary: V, W, X, Y, Z

By Glossary

As with any profession, the funeral profession has its jargon, a specialized vocabulary unique to the business. Only those intimately familiar with the profession know what everything actually means. At times, this can be a problem because people need to be able to understand in order to make good decisions. Therefore, the need for a glossary! Hopefully, it will help you better understand any future conversations you may have with funeral professionals.

V

Vault

Another type of grave liner, a burial vault is often required by cemeteries to encase a casket in order to prevent graves from sinking or caving in and to preserve the aesthetic beauty of the cemetery grounds. Vaults are usually made of concrete and offer more protection from the elements than grave liners.

Veterans Cemetery

A national or state cemetery run by the Department of Veterans Affairs specifically for the burial of eligible veterans and their dependents.

Viewing

A scheduled time for guests to see the deceased body after it has been properly prepared for burial or cremation. Oftentimes, a viewing occurs just before the funeral service begins. One key difference between a viewing and a visitation is that the family of the deceased are not necessarily available to receive condolences at a viewing.

Vigil

A Catholic religious service held the evening before the funeral.

Virtual Memorial

A virtual memorial is a digital space created to commemorate a deceased loved one. Memorials can be a single HTML webpage with the deceased’s name and a few words of tribute, or may be much more extensive. Multimedia content is common, including music, videos and stories and photos provided by friends and family. A timeline of the deceased loved one’s life, a family tree, a blog or journal may be created. Also see Online Memorial.

Visitation

This is a time when the family is available to friends and other family members who wish to express their sympathies directly. In some cases, the body of the deceased is also present so mourners may pay their respects to the deceased as well.

Visitation Room

The room where the deceased body lies for guests to view before a funeral service.

Vital Statistics

This term refers to information regarding births, deaths, marriages, divorces, veteran status, and social security number.

W

Wake

The gathering of family and friends before a funeral to mourn and honor the dead. Traditional wakes are held in the home, with the body present, and a meal is usually served. Sometimes, a person, or persons, are designated to sit up with and guard the deceased body through the night. The wake can last the entire night preceding the funeral.

Web Streaming

A technological advance that allows the funeral or memorial service to be streamed over the internet in real time for guests who are unable to attend. They can watch the event on their computer or electronic device.

Will

A will, also called a “Last Will and Testament,” is a legal document in which a person states their final wishes for the transfer of their assets after death.

Whole Life Insurance

Whole Life Insurance is also known as Ordinary, Standard or Permanent life insurance. Unlike term insurance, whole life insurance provides insurance coverage for the lifetime of the insured. Whole life insurance policies also provide tax-deferred buildup of cash value, payable upon surrender or payment default. Generally, permanent insurance has fixed premiums and death benefits. Other types of permanent coverage, such as Graded Premium Life, Universal Life, and Variable Life, offer variable premiums and death benefits.

X

Y

Z

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