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Glossary of UK Funeral Terms

Administrator

The person entitled at law to administer your Estate if you die without a Will.

Beneficiary

A generic term for any person who benefits under a Will.

Bequest

A generic term used to cover both legacies and devises.

Bereavement

Is the state of sorrow over the death or departure of a loved one

Burial

Is the act of placing a person or object into the ground. This is accomplished by excavating a pit or trench, placing an object in it, and covering it over.

Cemetery

A place where a dead body is buried, also known as a graveyard

Chapel Of Rest

Is the place where the body of the deceased is 'laid to rest' until the burial or cremation takes place. They are found in Undertakers premises (mortuary) and it is a place where people can go and visit their departed loved ones, up until the time of the funeral.

Chattels

Personal belongings like pictures, jewellery, cars and even pets.

Codicil

A formal amendment to a Will. Whilst a Codicil may be used, it is best practice to write a new Will to save confusion.

Coffin

A special box in which a dead persons body is buried or cremated

Cremation

Is the use of high-temperature burning, vaporization, and oxidation to reduce dead animal bodies, including human ones, to basic chemical compounds, such as gases and dry bone fragments. Cremation may serve as an alternative to the interment of an intact body in a casket. Cremated remains may be buried or interred in memorial sites or cemeteries, or they may be legally retained by relatives and dispersed in various ways. Cremation is usually done in a crematorium, but other countries prefer different methods, such as open-air cremation in India and in Nepal.

Cremation

The burning to ashes of a dead body

Cremator

Is a machine in which cremation takes place. (Also known as a retort, crematory or crematorium)

Crematorium

The place where dead bodies are burned and made into ashes

Crematory

Is a machine in which cremation takes place. Crematories are usually found in funeral homes, cemeteries, or in stand-alone facilities. A facility which houses the actual cremator units is referred to as a crematorium. (Also known as a cremator, retort or crematorium)

Crown

With no Will and no next of kin, the Crown inherits your Estate.

Deceased

The person who has passed away (died).

Departed

The person who has passed away (died).

Devise

A gift of real or immovable property such as land, houses or flats.

Domicile

Usually the country in which you live; however, if you or your parents were born outside England and Wales, or you intend to live permanently outside England and Wales, you should consider taking legal advice.

Donor

The person making a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)

Embalm

(Or Embalming) Is, in most modern cultures, the art and science of temporarily preserving human remains to forestall decomposition and to make them suitable for public display at a funeral. The three goals of embalming are thus sanitization, presentation and preservation (or restoration) of a corpse to achieve this effect. Embalming has a very long and cross-cultural history, with many cultures giving the embalming processes a greater religious meaning. Ancient Egyptians were some of the first people to use embalming - which developed the process of mummification.

Embalmer

Is a mortician who treats corpses with preservatives.

Estate

Everything you own at the time of your death.

Eulogy

Is a speech that may be given as part of funeral service and are usually delivered by a family member or a close family friend of the dead person.

Executor

The person or body responsible for collecting in the deceased's assets, paying any taxes, and distributing the Estate in accordance with the Will. The female form is Executrix.

Funeral

A gathering held to say goodbye to say goodbye to the dead person before they are buried or cremated

Funeral Director

A person who looks after the dead person and the funeral

Funeral home

A place were the person who has died lies in the coffin until the funeral. The place where a funeral director works

Grave

Is a place for the burial of a corpse. Usually beneath the ground and marked by a tombstone

Gravestone

Is a stone erected over a grave, to preserve the memory of the deceased.

Guardian

Person appointed by the Will to take over such parental rights as you may have over any child of yours under 18 at your death.

Headstone

Is a stone erected over a grave, to preserve the memory of the deceased.

Interment

Is the act of placing a person or object into the ground. This is accomplished by excavating a pit or trench, placing an object in it, and covering it over.

Intestacy/Intestate

Dying without having made a Will. The law then states how your Estate is distributed.

Issue

This means your children, their children and so on all the way down the family tree.

Legacy

Gift of personal or moveable property (including cash, shares etc.) in a Will. Someone who receives a legacy is a legatee.

Letters of Administration

The application to court after someone dies without a Will to prove that the person applying is entitled to administer the Estate and perhaps take a share of it.

Mausoleum

Is an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or persons. A monument without the interment is a cenotaph. A mausoleum may be considered a type of tomb or the tomb may be considered to be within the mausoleum.

Minor

A person under 18 years of age.

Mirror Will

A Will that contains almost identical terms to your Will. Many husbands/wives/partners have Mirror Wills where they have decided upon the same beneficiaries, irrespective of which partner dies first.

Morgue

Is a place used for the storage of human corpses awaiting identification, or removal for autopsy or disposal by burial, cremation or otherwise. In modern times they have customarily kept refrigerated to delay decomposition.

Mortician

One whose business is to arrange for the burial or cremation of the dead and assist at the funeral rites and who is usually an embalmer. Also called funeral director or undertaker.

Mortuary

Is a place used for the storage of human corpses awaiting identification, or removal for autopsy or disposal by burial, cremation or otherwise. In modern times they have customarily kept refrigerated to delay decomposition.

Probate

The application to court after someone dies to prove the Will is valid and which results in authority being granted to the Executors via a Grant of Probate after any tax due is paid.

Residuary estate

Everything you own at the time of your death less any legacies or devises you have made, your debts, funeral expenses and costs of winding up your Estate.

Retort

Is a machine in which cremation takes place. (Also known as a cremator, crematory or crematorium)

Sarcophagus

Is a funeral receptacle for a corpse, most commonly carved or cut from stone. The word Sarcophagus is closely associated with ancient Egyptian mummies.

Testamentary expenses

The legal costs of winding up your Estate.

Testator

The person making a Will (the female form is testatrix).

Tombstone

Is a stone erected over a grave, to preserve the memory of the deceased.

Trust

Arrangement by which a person (the Trustee) holds legal ownership of money or property for the benefit of another person.

Trustee

A person to whom an Estate is conveyed on trust for another.

Undertaker

Is another word for a funeral director

Will

A document conforming to certain legal requirements that sets out what you want to happen to your property and the rest of your Estate upon death.


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