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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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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


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.


The cremation chamber at a crematory used for final disposition.

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