Glossary of End of Life Planning Terms

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) – Everyday functions and activities individuals usually do without help include bathing, dressing, eating, and toileting.

Administrator – In estate planning, this is a person appointed by the court to take care of the estate of the deceased who hadn’t written a will.

Advance Care Planning – A process to explore, discuss and make plans regarding an individual’s health care if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves because of illness or incapacity. It is applicable to all adults in all stages of life. View page 18 for additional information.

Advanced Directive – Also known as a living will; it is a legal document in which an individual specifies what actions should be taken for their health if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves because of illness or incapacity.

Beneficiary – One who receives the proceeds from the deceased’s will and/or insurance policy.

Bereaved – Refers to the members of the deceased’s immediate family.

Casket – Large container designed to carry the deceased’s body or remains.

Casket Bearer / Pallbearer – Individuals whose duty is carry the casket when necessary during the funeral or graveside service.

Celebrant – Trained professionals who compose and officiate personalized funeral and memorial services.

Cemetery – The burial ground used to conduct final funeral rites or services.

Clinical Psychologist – A professional focused on improving the psychological well being of patients and their stress levels as it relates to diseases of the brain, emotional distress and behavior problems.

Cremation – The process of burning human remains using highly intense heat.

Crematory – The building which has a furnace set aside for cremation purposes.

DD214 Form – The military discharge document necessary to schedule interment at a National Cemetery. Veteran benefits are for interment of the veteran and spouse.  If a veteran doesn’t have this form, it can be ordered online but takes about 6 weeks receive.

Death Benefits –  A specified amount of money to be distributed to the beneficiaries of an insurance policy upon death of the insured person.

Death Certificate – A document issued by a medical professional or coroner certifying the deceased state of a person and includes the specific location, date and cause of death.

Direct Cremation – When the deceased is cremated without a viewing or service beforehand.

Direct or Immediate Burial – When the deceased is buried without a viewing or service of any kind.

Disposition – The method in which an individuals body would be disposed off (burial or cremation).

Elimination Period – A type of insurance deductible; the length of time the insured must pay for long term care services before the policy begins to pay benefits.

Embalming – Use of chemicals to preserve human remains on a temporary basis.

Estate Planning – The process of getting an individual’s affairs in order through the creation of a will, trust, power of attorney and advanced directive.

Eulogy – Speaking publicly about the praiseworthy deeds of the deceased during the funeral.

Final Expense Insurance – An insurance policy to cover burial and funeral expenses of the insured after death.

Financial Planning – A review of an individual or family’s financial goals to Financial advice usually provided by a professional to help individuals and families make sensible decisions about achieving financial goals, planning for retirement and covering expenses related to aging and dying. View page 6 for additional information.

Funeral Director – A professional specializing in all aspects associated with funeral ceremonies, memorials, cremation and pre-planning. View page 30 for additional information.

Funeral Service – Any ceremony, religious or not, in which the bereaved say their goodbyes to the deceased before they are put to rest, with the casketed remains present.

Funeral Spray – A large display of cut flowers sent to the residence of the deceased or to the funeral home as decoration for the funeral or a floral tribute to the deceased.

Grave – A place of burial for a dead body or cremated remains.

Grave Liner – A concrete box, also known as an outer burial container, where the casket or urn is placed. Differs from a burial vault in that it is not lined or sealed. Grave liners are not required by law, but most cemeteries require them to maintain their park-like setting.

Graveside Service – A closed casket funeral service held at the graveside in the cemetery.

Green Burial / Natural Burial – A newer term, referring to a burial without embalming or the use of a grave liner, outer burial container, or other materials that aren’t biodegradable.

Home Funeral – A family or community-centered response to death and after-death care to complete some of the initial tasks normally performed by a funeral director.

Home Funeral Guide – Someone who undergoes special training to assist the dying and their family members. Sometimes referred to as a Death Doula or Midwife. View page 29 for additional information.

Hospice Care – Specialized medical care to provide a patient with relief from their symptoms, pain and stress related to a serious illness that has progressed to a point where curative treatment is no longer desired or beneficial. Palliative care provides similar support but is specifically for patients still receiving medical treatment for their condition.

Interment – The burial or final placement of remains.

Legal Guardian – An individual who has the legal authority to care for the personal and property interests of an incapacitated senior, developmentally disabled adult, or minor.

Letter of Instruction / Letter of Intent – A set of instructions left to survivors by the deceased to provide  step by step instructions to settle their affairs and estate. This document may be part of an estate plan, but is not legally binding like a will, trust, power of attorney or advanced directive.

Life Insurance – An insurance policy to provide designated survivors (known as beneficiaries) with a certain amount of money in the event of the insured’s death.

Long Term Care (LTC) – Personal care provided to individuals that need assistance with activities of daily living or who need supervision due to a severe cognitive impairment. It can be provided at home, in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or an adult day care center.

Long Term Care Insurance – An insurance policy to cover the costs of long term care expenses not generally covered by health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.  View page 8 for additional information.

Mausoleum – A public or private building especially designed for entombment. It is usually a permanent, above-ground resting place for the deceased.

Medicaid – A federal program to fund medical and health related services for people with low income in the United States.

Medicare – A federal health insurance program provided to individuals age 65 or older and anyone under 65 with End Stage Renal Disease or certain disabilities in the United States.

Memorial Service – Any ceremony, religious or not, in which the bereaved say their goodbyes to the deceased before they are put to rest, without the casketed remains present.

Monthly Benefit – The dollar amount of insurance specified in a long term care insurance to be dispersed monthly.

Morgue – A place where the dead are kept as they wait to be properly identified by their next of kin.

Net Worth – Used to measure a person’s current financial situation and future goals, it is a snapshot of an individual’s assets and debt owed.

Obituary – A written article announcing the recent death of an individual. It typically includes details about a person’s life and any upcoming funeral or memorial.

Palliative Care – Specialized medical care to provide a patient with relief from their symptoms, pain and stress related to a serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and family through an extra layer of support provided by a team of medical professionals. Hospice provides similar support but is specific to individuals with illness that has progressed to a point where curative treatment is no longer desired or beneficial.

Plan of Care / Care Plan – A written, individualized plan prescribed by a healthcare professional to specify the type of long term care services a patient requires. The document is often shared with a patient’s family and team of medical professionals administering care.

Plot – A specific piece of land in a cemetery in which interment rights are purchased by a family or individual. A plot usually contains two or more graves.

POLST Form – For those with advanced illness or frailty, this form is completed with a healthcare professional to direct the kind of treatment wanted in a medical crisis. A completed POLST form provides medical instructions that can be followed by emergency medical services.

Power of Attorney – A legal document in which an individual appoints another person to act on their behalf regarding personal and financial matters.

Pre-Need / Pre-Planning – Funeral and cemetery arrangements made before a death.

Probate – The process in a court where the will’s validity has to be proven.

Procession – An organized group or line of people or vehicles that move together slowly as part of a funeral ceremony.

Remains – Refers to the deceased’s body.

Respite Care – Long term care services provided to temporarily relieve those who normally provide care to an individual.

Trust – A fiduciary arrangement that allows a third party, (also known as a trustee) to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries.

Urn – A special container designed to hold the remains of humans who have been cremated.

Visitation – When a body is put on display for friends and family to visit the body and pay their respects.

Wake – A custom of keeping a vigil or watch over the deceased before burial. It may include prayers for the dead and comforting of the relatives of the deceased.

Will – Legal document where the deceased has stated their wishes for the dispersal of their assets, what to do with the remains, and other matters.

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