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Funeral planning is stressful enough without being confused by funeral industry and insurance terms. We’ve compiled this glossary to give you an insider’s advantage when preplanning your own funeral or funeral planning for a loved one.
Click on a letter to locate a specific term.
ADB: accelerated death benefit
Fixed life insurance benefits that are paid while the insured is still living, which decreases the benefit amount paid after his or her death.
Advance funeral planning
Planning one’s own funeral in advance, and sometimes paying for it, in order to relieve his or her loved ones from the emotional and financial burden.
Advance healthcare directive
Also referred to as a
, this legal document lets others know one’s preferences for medical care and takes effect when someone is no longer able to speak for himself or herself.
The remorseful reaction
after losing a loved one that one has failed to live up to expectations to the deceased or the death.
A Term Life or Whole Life insurance policy that pays benefits directly to the beneficiary to cover the cost of the insured’s
funeral or cremation expenses
upon his or her death.
A rectangular coffer that the deceased is placed in and then buried in the ground. Also referred to as a coffin.
Celebration of life
An informal gathering of friends and family where they can share stories and pay respect to the life of the deceased in a positive manner.
that goes a step further by also committing fees to pay for land acquisition, protection, restoration, and management.
A deceased person’s cremated remains, also known as ashes.
The disposal of a deceased person’s body through burning it to ashes, oftentimes after a funeral ceremony has taken place.
that can include any of the elements used in a traditional burial. This service can take place before or after cremation, and oftentimes, incorporates the burial of the cremated remains.
The payment that is given to a beneficiary from the life insurance provider after the insured policyholder passes away. Also known as face amount.
The process of
a deceased body within the days immediately following death and before a funeral service.
Coffins made from a variety of different materials
that are not harmful to the environment and oftentimes are even biodegradable. Also known as biodegradable caskets.
injecting a deceased body with fluids
that are used to temporarily slow the body’s decomposition. This process is typically used to preserve the body for a public or open casket funeral.
Funds that cemeteries use to cover the costs of grounds and facilities maintenance.
The act of placing a deceased body or cremated remains into a burial chamber.
EOI: Evidence of insurability
Medical and personal information
that an insurance provider uses when deciding on coverage for an individual or group applying for health or life insurance. Also known as medical underwriting.
A plan made in advance
that instructs who is entitled to an individual’s possessions after he or she dies.
A speech or
piece of writing
that positively reflects about someone who has died.
Final Expense insurance
An insurance plan that is used to
cover funeral costs and additional expenses
of the insured after they die.
All of the services that a funeral home provides, such as planning the funeral service and preparing and transporting the body.
A life insurance policy that is used to cover the insured’s funeral, burial, and any final expenses they may leave behind.
motorcade or march
of people after a funeral from the funeral home to the cemetery.
A hymn sung at a funeral that represents the mourners saying goodbye to the deceased. It is also seen as a processional from the funeral service to the deceased’s final resting place.
that is held when the body of the deceased is present in a coffin with a burial immediately following.
A funeral service held at the deceased’s gravesite that can be a stand-alone event or follow a traditional funeral service.
burial in a “green cemetery
,” where the body is not cremated or prepared with any embalming chemicals, but it is placed in a biodegradable casket and buried with the goal of complete decomposition of the body and the casket.
cemetery that does not use pesticides
to maintain the property and none of the bodies have been embalmed or buried in a traditional casket.
eco-friendly alternative to flame-based cremation
that involves the use of water and potassium hydroxide to breakdown the body into bone ash.
A funeral service that incorporates
to a typical U.S. funeral, such as not embalming or embalming with formaldehyde-free products, using recycled paper for programs, selecting locally grown organic flowers, or choosing a natural or green burial.
The amount or size of a plan that someone automatically qualifies for without having to prove good health during the life insurance application process. Also known as guaranteed issue maximum.
Guaranteed funeral plans
contract where the cost of specific funeral services and products can never increase, regardless of inflation or price changes that may occur by the time the insured dies.
The burial of a deceased person in a grave.
that is held when the deceased is not physically present because the burial has already taken place, or the body has been cremated (with or without an urn present).
A business that provides funeral services for the deceased and their families. Also known as a funeral home or funeral parlor.
The burial of a deceased person directly in the ground in a manner that allows the body to decompose naturally. Embalming fluid, a casket, and a vault are not used.
Order of service
A program that is handed to funeral attendees and lists the elements and order of the funeral.
POD (payable on death) account
A bank account
an individual deposits money into to cover funeral costs when he or she dies. It accumulates interest and is payable upon the individual’s death to a designated family member or friend to use for his or her funeral.
Preneed Funeral insurance
Insurance that is purchased in advance
at a funeral home. The individual who purchases it chooses the specific arrangements they desire for their funeral and pays the costs in a lump sum or in payments.
The process of
planning a funeral in advance
to ensure one’s wishes have been made known and to eliminate the need for family to make arrangements while mourning.
to an insurance policy to add benefits or exclude coverage for a health condition, body part, or body system.
Term Life insurance
A life insurance policy
that pays a benefit if the insured dies within a specified term.
The most common
type of funeral
in the United States that often includes a viewing ceremony one or two nights before the funeral service, which is usually held three to six days after the death.
A box made of concrete, plastic, or metal that encases a casket in order to protect it from the weight of the earth and cemetery maintenance equipment. It is similar to a grave liner, but a vault is sealed and lined, which better protects the casket from weather. Also known as a burial vault.
A designated time when family and friends are able to view the deceased and say their goodbyes before the burial.
A period, typically one or two days before the funeral service, when family, friends, and colleagues come together to
express sympathy to the family of the deceased
with the body present either in an open or closed casket.
gathering usually held before the funeral service
at the deceased’s house or a funeral home with the deceased body present.
An alternative to traditional burial or cremation based on alkaline hydrolysis that involves dissolving human remains in a chamber filled with water and lye. The process produces less carbon dioxide and pollutants than cremation. Also known as