Here’s a helpful Glossary of Funeral Terms from the Maine Funeral Directors Association.
ADMINISTRATOR (male)/ADMINISTRATRIX (female): person who is appointed by the court to settle the affairs of someone who has died without a will.
AUTHORIZED PERSON: a member of the immediate family of the deceased, a person authorized in writing by a member of the immediate family of the deceased if no member of the immediate family of the deceased wishes to assume the responsibility, or in the absence of immediate family, a person authorized in writing by the deceased.
BURIAL RIGHTS: a burial lot purchase isn’t a purchase of property, but the rights to burial on an entire lot which is defined as a multiple of grave spaces. Ownership rights to the entire lot can be transferred or rights to an individual space or spaces can be granted by the lot owner as burial rights.
CEMETERIAN: a person responsible for the management or functions of one or more cemeteries.
CEMETERY: an area of ground set aside and dedicated for the final disposition of dead human remains.
CEMETERY LOT: 2 or more graves under a common proprietor (plot).
CERTIFIED COPY OF DEATH CERTIFICATE: the legal copy of the original death certificate containing raised seal.
CODICIL: a separate writing that modifies a will.
COLUMBARIUM: a structure, room or space in a mausoleum or other building containing niches used to contain cremated remains.
COMMITTAL SERVICE: that portion after the funeral which is conducted as a final closure to the funeral process.
CREMATE: reducing the dead human body to inorganic bone fragments in a specially designed retort.
CREMAINS: cremated human remains.
CREMATORY: a building that houses a retort (crematorium).
CRYPT: a chamber in a mausoleum of sufficient size, generally used to contain the casketed remains of a deceased person.
CUSTODY: the right to make all decisions, consistent with applicable laws, regarding the handling of a dead human body, including, but not limited to, possession, at-need funeral arrangements, final disposition and disinterment. State law dictates line of next of kin in determining custody.
DEATH CERTIFICATE: a legal document confirming death and containing vital statistical information, final disposition and medical information pertaining to the deceased.
DEATH NOTICE: a classified, most often paid, notice publicizing the death of a person, and giving those details of the funeral that the survivors wish to be published.
DIRECT DISPOSITION: delivery of the deceased to the place of disposition without ceremony.
DISINTERMENT: to exhume.
DISPOSITION PERMIT: legal document certifying that a proper death certificate has been filed; allows disposition to take place. To move a dead human body, a disposition permit must be issued by the clerk of the community in which the person died.
DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY: someone appointed to carry out the wishes of an individual if that person is incapacitated. Power of Attorney ceases upon death.
EMBALMING: the art or technique of preparing a dead, human body for disposition.
ENTOMBMENT: the placing of remains in a crypt in a mausoleum.
EPITAPH: a commemorative inscription on a monument or tomb.
ESTATE: real and/or personal property owned by a person at the time of death.
EULOGY: an oration praising an individual usually after death.
EXECUTOR (male), EXECUTRIX (female): person who carries out terms of a will.
FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS: the term applied to the completing of the service and financial details of the funeral.
FUNERAL BILL: a statement or account of the monetary value of services and merchandise sold by the funeral director.
FUNERAL SERVICE AGREEMENT FORM: a statement prepared at the conclusion of the arrangement conference, signed by the funeral director and client or his/her representative with copies retained by each party, dealing with all parts of the transaction/contract.
GRAVE: single space in a cemetery lot or plot.
GRAVE MARKER: a temporary or permanent means of identification and/or memorialization at a grave.
HOMILY: a sermon based on scripture.
INFORMANT: one who supplies the vital statistical information concerning the deceased for the death certificate.
INTER: to bury in the ground.
INTERMENT: the act of placing the dead human body in the ground (burial).
IRREVOCABLE TRUST: funeral trust in which the trusted funds cannot be returned to the prepayer for any reason.
LIVING WILL: a document that spells out an individual’s final wishes for medical care, including the right to refuse treatment that would keep the individual alive by artificial means.
LOT: a space set aside in a cemetery for several grave spaces.
MAUSOLEUM: a building containing crypts or vaults for entombment.
MEDICAL EXAMINER: a forensically (legally) trained physician.
MEMORIAL PARK: a cemetery with flush-to-the-ground markers.
MONUMENT: a structure of stone or metal commemorating the life, deeds or career of a deceased person.
NICHE: a recess in a columbarium used for the permanent placing of cremains.
OBITUARY: a news item concerning the death of a person. It usually contains a biographical sketch.
PERPETUAL CARE: an arrangement made by the cemetery whereby funds are set aside, the income of which is used to maintain the cemetery plot indefinitely.
PROBATE: a court procedure to prove that an instrument is indeed the will of the decedent; the legal procedure for settling an estate.
PRE-ARRANGED FUNERAL: arrangements which have been completed prior to need.
PRENEED FUNERAL PLANNING: any funeral planning done prior to death (prearranging).
RECEIVING VAULT: a structure so designed for the temporary storage of casketed bodies which are not to be interred immediately.
RESTORATIVE ART: the technique of putting the body in condition similar to that which existed prior to death and final illness.
SEXTON: one who is in charge of a cemetery. The caretaker of a church.
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION: a branch of the federal Dept. of Health and Human Services which provides benefits for retirement, health insurance and death benefits.
SUPERINTENDENT: a professional cemeterian responsible for the management, direction and day to day operation of one or more cemeteries.
VETERANS ADMINISTRATION: a federal government agency providing services and benefits to U.S. military veterans, their dependents and survivors.
VISITATION: the calling of friends and relatives to pay respect prior to the funeral service (calling hours) (wake) (viewing)
WILL: legal expression of how a person’s property is to be distributed after death.