A trust for married couples that allows for savings on federal estate taxes upon the death of the second spouse. Upon the death of the first spouse, his/her half of the property is left to beneficiaries with the condition that the surviving spouse is entitled to it for life. Upon the death of the second spouse, the property is passed to the trust beneficiaries. The second spouse's taxable property is half what it would have been if the property were left directly to him/her.
Also known as personal directive, advance directive, and advance care directive, these are documents specifying an individual's preferences for health care treatment in the event of a debilitating or incapacitating injury.
Care for the deceased, i.e. cleaning and preparing the body for a funeral service or burial, conducted by the family, friends, or a professional caregiver.
Also known as "bio-cremation," the process by which a body is entered into a pressurized stainless steel chamber and reduced to liquid form through soaking in a liquid solution of hydrochloric acid and water. Though this process has been employed by medical facilities and veterinarians for over 15 years, it has yet to come into commercial use for human remains.
An examination of a body or organ postmortem, to determine cause of death and/or evaluate disease or injury that may have occurred; or, the act of performing such an examination.
Under the Funeral Rule, the one non-declinable fee that a funeral provider is allowed to charge a consumer for goods and services. All other costs are optional based on what items the consumer selects.
Flowers grown using a method of sustainable, organic farming that focuses on a balance between the soil, plants, and animals, in order to create a holistic ecosystem with few external inputs.
A cloth used to wrap the entire body of the deceased. Also "burial sheet" or "funeral shroud".
The permit issued by the county required to transport a body, also needed at cemetery or crematorium to bury or cremate body. State laws vary greatly on who needs a burial transit permit and in which instances.
A nurse who specializes in the treatment of patients receiving long-term care, and usually specializes in one specific area, such as cancer, AIDS, or geriatrics.
A box or chest used to bury human remains.
Officiant who performs a rite or ceremony, such as a priest.
Opening and closing graves, crypts, or niches; setting vaults; setting markers; and long-term maintenance of cemetery grounds and facilities.
Varying levels of certification given by the USDA. Foods with USDA Organic seal are 95-100% organic: "100% Organic" indicates foods made entirely from certified organic materials, while "Organic" indicates foods made with at least 95% certified organic materials. Without the USDA seal, "Made with Organic Ingredients" indicates foods made with at least 70% certified organic materials. No federal rules regulate the use of the term "Natural" regarding foods.
A structure where cremation vessels can be placed and stored in specialized niches. A columbarium can be a free standing building, a part of a mausoleum, or an outdoor structure.
A green burial on a so-called Conservation Burial Site, that is, land that is protected by an independent steward, such as a land trust, which oversees the conservation easement and performs ongoing monitoring and reporting.
Highest level of certification by the Green Burial Council. Along with meeting the requirements for a Natural Burial Ground, the area must protect an area of land and further the goal of land conservation.
Incineration of remains, within a specially designed furnace, of remains, at temperatures ranging from 1400°F to 2000°F for 2 to 2.5 hours, followed by the pulverizing of the remaining bone-ash fragments into a uniform size and consistency.
Bone-fragment ash produced by the cremation of human remains.
Local, statewide, or regional organization that offers cremation services, resources, urns, etc.
A container to hold cremated remains, which can be placed in a columbarium or mausoleum, buried in the ground, or kept in the home, and can be made of an assortment of materials such as metal, wood, plastic or plaster.
A business that conducts cremations, or the chamber within a funeral home or other business that conducts cremation — sometimes used to describe the furnace machinery in particular.
A complex and scientifically controversial procedure wherein, after death, a body is preserved through in-depth cooling. Ice formations are combated through treatment of medical grade anti-freeze, with the eventual goal, following gains in medical science perhaps precipitated by the advent of nanotechnology, of total restoration of the body to state at the prime of life or better.
An underground space or compartment in a mausoleum that holds whole body or cremated remains.
Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, a highly toxic synthetic pesticide. Widely banned.
A document signed by a physician, which states the date, place, and cause of a person's death.
A byproduct of most combustion processes involving chlorine, dioxins are a persistent organic environmental pollutant that can accumulate in wildlife and natural environment. Dioxins result from cremation through the incineration of plastics within the body, as well as chlorine present in a human body and chlorine that may be present in the casket.
Process wherein the body is buried shortly after death, usually without embalming or dressing and without a visitation service. Usually costs less than a full-service funeral.
Process wherein the body is transported to the crematorium shortly after death, usually without embalming or dressing and without a visitation service.
A document on file with the health department that outlines how a body is to be disposed of.
A state-specific list of registered organ, tissue, or eye donors, maintaining the individual's consent and their preferences for donation.
List of patients eligible for organ, tissue, or eye transplant; part of a national allocation system based on urgency of need, availability of organ, and location of the patient.
An advance health care directive stating that resuscitation should not be attempted in cases of cardiac or respiratory arrest.
Legal documents that take effect immediately upon your incapacitation, allowing the designated agent to make financial decisions on your behalf, either until it is revoked or until your death.
An advance health care directive designating your health care proxy. The document comes into effect whenever an individual is temporarily unconscious or otherwise unable to make medical decisions.
An individual who conducts embalming, often in the employ of a funeral home, medical school, hospital, or morgue. Embalmers must be fully licensed and have completed the necessary mortuary science courses at a special vocational school. Many embalmers are funeral directors as well.
Preservation of a dead body through treatment with balsams and other chemicals, and the preparation of a dead body for viewing.
A memorial event that takes place before a dying person's final passage, end-of-life celebrations seek to emphasize the achievements of a person's life, rather than the disappointments of a loved one's death. These can be healing experiences that provide families with a positive memory of their loved one, and a cathartic venue in which to begin letting go.
Rights of a person to determine the circumstances of their end-of-life care and death, often refers to a right to health-care decision-making.
Burial within a crypt or mausoleum.
Tax imposed on the estate of a deceased person, imposed before it is distributed to the heirs. Sometimes called the "inheritance tax".
Personal record created to communicate values, wisdoms, advice, or stories, often released after the drafter's death.
A speech or written piece that honors someone or something, typically a person who has just died.
Person or institution designated to carry out the terms of a will.
A socially conscious and earth-friendly company that produces and markets Fair Trade products from East Africa.
A designation that indicates that labeled goods have met certain standards of production and trade, usually ensuring fair payment to producers, and other social and environmental concerns.
Also known as the Kubler-Ross model, the stages were outlined by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her landmark 1969 text, On Death and Dying. The five stages—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—were originally intended to describe the experience of the dying. However, Kubler-Ross lateradded that this model could encompass the experience of the grieving as well. It is commonly used to understand and explain the emotional process of a person who has recently experienced aprofound loss.
Funeral that usually includes embalming and visitation, a formal service, transportation of the body in a hearse to the funeral site or cemetery, and burial or cremation. Also called "traditional funeral".
Service held to honor someone who has recently died.
A Non-profit organization that works to protect people's right to a meaningful, dignified, and affordable funeral.
Professional who oversees preparation of a body for burial, the burial and other services, and maintains a funeral home. Also "mortician" or "undertaker".
A business which prepares the deceased for burial, often conducting such services as embalmment and visitation preparation. Many funeral homes also sell caskets, conduct cremations, and are operated in close conjunction with nearby cemeteries.
The consumer package that includes all or many of the services offered by a funeral home (i.e. embalmment, visitation, burial or cremation).
Canadian organization that offers resources and information to assist in funeral planning and arrangements.
Law enacted by the Federal Trade Commission in 1984 that defines terms related to funeral services (i.e. funeral director) and ensures certain consumer rights.
Services provided by a funeral home, the funeral director, and the funeral home staff; could include family consultations on event planning; preparing and filing notices; transporting, sheltering, storing and embalming the remains; obtaining necessary permits; coordinating with the cemetery, crematorium, and other third parties.
An interest-bearing account opened, generally by a funeral home in your name, to set aside money for anticipated funeral costs. Funds are dispersed upon your death to the funeral home and other service providers, with leftover funds generally dispersed to your estate.
A plot of land in a cemetery reserved for the burial of a deceased body or of cremated remains.
A commemoration service held at the cemetery prior to burial of the deceased.
Method of burial that does not inhibit decomposition and furthers conservation of the area. Embalming and use of other chemicals are not permitted, and the body is wrapped in a shroud, enclosed in a biodegradable casket, or buried with neither.
Site for green or natural burial. No permanent structures (i.e. headstones, paved roads, mausoleums) are added to the site, in order to conserve the natural landscape. The Green Burial Council specifies three levels of conservation for green cemeteries: hybrid burial ground, natural burial ground, and conservation burial ground.
Casket made of natural, non-synthetic, and non-toxic materials and constructed and handled in an eco-friendly manner to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing, transportation, and burial or disposal of the casket.
A crematorium that uses alternative incineration methods to reduce natural gas and energy used, as well as accepting recycled or cardboard caskets, which require less energy to burn.
The individual identified in a durable power of attorney for health care document with the responsibility to make medical decisions for the document drafter, should the drafter become unconscious or unable to make medical decisions for his/herself.
Funeral services handled directly by friends, family, and/or caretakers of the deceased without the involvement of a funeral home or funeral director. (Legal in most U.S. states.)
A home funeral-planning expert versed in the state and local laws pertaining to personal after-death care, and the tasks and supplies required for conducting a home funeral.
Home health aides provide basic assistance to patients who cannot take care of themselves; these tasks may include light housekeeping, instruction and psychological support, grocery shopping, or accompanying their patient on their hospital visits or other errands.
Palliative or supportive care for terminally ill patients that focuses on comfort and quality of life. Can be inpatient or home care.
A freestanding licensed hospice facility or hospice unit within an existing health care facility.
Primary care attendant with an RN as well as hospice worker certification who performs nursing duties focused on end-of-life support and comfort for a terminally ill patient.
A level of certification by the Green Burial Council that requires a conventional cemetery to offer the option of burial without a vault, without embalmment, and to allow for burial using eco-friendly caskets or shrouds.
Burial of remains underground, inuring cremation ashes into a cremation vessel, or entombing remains in a crypt or mausoleum.
The placing, ceremonial or not, of cremated remains in an urn.
Process in which friends, family, and caretakers gather to share memories of the deceased or dying.
An arrangement wherein property held by one party is released to a stipulated trustee following the property holder's death, for the settling of the deceased's outstanding financial obligations, and the distributing of assets.
A specific type of advance health care directive stipulating an individual's feelings about health care treatment in the event of incapacitation or debilitation. Living wills do not specify a health care proxy, and they do not make allowances for temporary unconsciousness.
A building in which human remains are entombed in compartments or crypts.
The process by which individuals make themselves eligible for Medicaid benefits by "spending down" their assets; that is, purchasing or reserving funds for necessary products or services, such as funerals, medical care, or nursing facilities, until their net worth is low enough to qualify for Medicaid.
The clinical leader of a long-term care facility, or nursing home, the medical director oversees all clinical care within the facility. Briefly, the medical director's responsibilities can be broken down into four areas: physician leadership, patient care-clinical leadership, quality of care, and education.
Hospice care is covered under the Medicare or Medicaid Hospice Benefit. You can receive the Medicare or Medicaid Hospice Benefit if you meet the following the requirements: 1) You are eligible for Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) or Medicaid. 2) Your doctor and the medical director certify that you are terminally ill and have 6 months or less to live. 3) You sign a document choosing hospice care instead of other Medicare- or Medicaid-covered benefits to treat your terminal illness. 4) You receive care from a Medicare- or Medicaid-approved hospice program.
Ceremony to honor the deceased without the body present.
A locally based non-profit consumer organization affiliated with the Funeral Consumer Alliance that provides advocacy and information services concerning funerals, the funeral industry, after-death care, and alternative forms of disposition, independent of the federally regulated funeral industry.
Bromomethane, a gaseous or liquid organic compound used as an insecticide.
The most toxic mercury compound, methyl mercury accumulates in fish whose environment has been contaminated by mercury leaching. Methyl mercury is very unhealthy to human or other animals further up the food chain who may eat this fish.
A level of certification by the Green Burial Council requiring that the land maintain a naturalistic appearance compatible with regional ecosystems.
Death by natural causes, i.e. disease. Autopsies are usually not required following a natural death.
A space in a mausoleum, niche wall, or columbarium specially designed to hold a cremation vessel.
A short news story that reports on a recent death, usually including a brief biography of the deceased.
A traditional disposition option still practiced in many parts of the world, where the body is cremated on a funeral pyre in the outdoors. Currently there exist a limited number of U.S. providers of open-air cremation who restrict service to local or religious communities.
Typically a self-contained unit of tissue in an organism that performs a vital function (such as the heart or liver).
Anyone is allowed to become an organ donor; acceptability of organs is decided upon donor's death. Designation varies by state in the U.S., typically noted on the driver's license and/or an organ donor card to be carried in the wallet. Recipients are determined by need, blood type, tissue type, and body size.
Care (for end-of-life) patients focused on reducing pain and discomfort, rather than curing or reversing the effects of a disease.
Funeral services and disposition of remains that involve both family-planned services and funeral home services.
A portion of the cost of burial that is set aside by the cemetery property owners for use in maintenance and upkeep of the cemetery. State laws regulating perpetual care fund amounts differ, usually setting a mandatory minimum which the cemetery operators must meet, though operators are usually able to raise a larger amount than the minimum. Only the interest earned by perpetual care funds can be used for maintaining and improving the cemetery.
Process in which a physician provides a prescription to a terminally ill patient that will hasten the patient's death. The physician does not cause the patient's death, but allows the patient to determine the time and circumstances of death.
A physician or doctor who provides the first contact for a patient's undiagnosed illness, as well as ongoing care of upcoming medical conditions.
A verified copy of a will; the sometimes long and arduous process of officially approving a will; or the act of verifying a will.
The process by which a body is broken down into compostible, environmentally friendly fragments through treatment by liquid nitrogen. Promession remains in experimental use in the U.S., but there are currently prematoria facilities in the U.K., South Korea, and Sweden.
Notification to the general public of a death, i.e. an obituary in a newspaper.
Official form informing an institution or legal representative of the death of a person; usually issued to an institution providing insurance or benefits to the person, or to a legal representative responsible for handling the person's estate.
The specialized furnace in a crematorium used for the cremation of remains.
The right of one's survivor(s) to the property of the deceased.
Burial in a "rural" or "garden" cemetery, which utilizes landscaping in a park-like setting. Accordant with state and local laws, burial on private property is sometimes allowed.
Ceremony of spreading cremains in a meaningful place. Various methods can be used; ashes may be simply cast into the wind, raked into the soil, scattered over water, or buried in a small trench or at a gravesite. Regulations for method and location vary by state in the U.S.
Process in which the body of the deceased is transported directly from a morgue or coroner to the burial site or crematorium.
A disease that is not likely to be adequately cured or treated, and is reasonably likely to result in death.
Organization of cellular tissue that has a particular function within an organism, such as the muscle in animals/humans.
Also called a "payable on death" account. Funds for cremation or burial are held at a bank, and released at time of death to the designated beneficiary for payment of funeral services.
Process for disposition of body that includes embalmment, casket, and a vault in a traditional cemetery.
Most cemeteries employ concrete slabs (tombstones), vaults, wooden caskets, and heavily manicured, fertilized grounds. They are usually highly environmentally unsound, and burial plots can be expensive. Many of them will accept an unembalmed body and a "green" casket or "shroud", and a few also have designated plot areas for green burials.
An arrangement wherein property is held by one party for the later benefit of another at a specified time.
Non-profit organization that works with the federal government to manage the nation's organ transplant community.
A concrete, plastic, or metal cover completely enclosing a coffin or casket, primarily used to keep the weight of the ground from crushing a buried coffin.
The viewing of the decedent's body by mourners, wherein the body is displayed in the casket, often one to two days before the final burial. Also called a "wake," or a "viewing."
A legal document outlining what is to be done with a person's estate after the person's death.
Some crematoriums allow a select group of friends or relatives to witness the body entering the retort, and the processing of the cremation ashes, should the bereaved so choose.