When planning a funeral, you may come across unfamiliar terminology. To assist you, Funeral Experts have compiled a glossary to clarify common terms and phrases.


Administrator (of the estate)

The person legally responsible for managing the estate of someone who has passed away, if that person did not have a will.

Alternative funeral

Anything considered a non-traditional celebration of someone’s life.


The remains of someone who has passed away, after their body has been cremated.

Ashes casket

A box for burying the ashes of someone who has died.


Anything of value, such as property, savings, shares, jewellery, or collectibles, that was owned by the deceased.

Attended funeral

This is a funeral where family and friends have a ceremony, event or service for the deceased person at the same time as they attend their burial or cremation.


A thorough medical examination that takes place after someone has died, to identify the cause of death.



A person who is named in a Will, or through life insurance, to receive an asset (i.e. a specific property) or share of the estate.


A gift (property, money, belongings etc.) that is left to a person or charitable organisation in a Will.


Someone who is mourning the death of a loved one, usually a family member or close friend.

Bereavement leave

Time off granted by an employer to allow a bereaved person time to grieve, make necessary arrangements, and attend the funeral or memorial service.

Bereavement support payment

A benefit paid by the government to people whose husband, wife or civil partner dies, to help ease any financial worries. The money can be paid as a one-off lump sum or monthly payments.


A bier is a movable stand or platform used to hold and transport a corpse, coffin, or casket containing the deceased person’s body.

Body donation

Act of leaving your body to medical research.

Book of remembrance

A Book of Remembrance is a special book found at many crematoriums that records the names of loved ones who have died.


The act of placing the body of someone who has died in a grave, typically in a coffin or casket.

Burial fee

The costs associated with securing a burial plot and preparing the gravesite are known as burial fees. These are also commonly referred to as interment fees.

Burial ground

A burial ground is an area of land owned by a private organisation or council where the bodies or ashes of people who have died are buried.

Burial plot

A burial plot is a designated area of land within a cemetery where loved ones are laid to rest.

Burial site

An area of land used for burial, also referred to as a burial plot.



A rectangular container which holds the body of someone who has died. It is usually made from wood, cardboard or wicker.


A stand or platform, sometimes decorated, which a coffin or casket is placed on during a funeral service or viewing.


A person who helps plan the order of service and leads a funeral ceremony, i.e. priest, civil celebrant, friend or family member of the deceased.

Celebration of life

A funeral or memorial service that is not driven by a religion and instead focuses on the life of the person who has died.


A cemetery is an area of land used for burial, allowing llowing loved ones a place to visit, reflect, and pay their respects.

Certificate for burial or cremation

A free certificate issued by the registrar after someone’s death has been registered – not to be confused with a death certificate or medical certificate of cause of death. It is a legal requirement before the person can be buried or cremated.

Chapel of rest

A room in a funeral home where people can view the body of their loved one.


A churchyard is a cemetery attached to a Christian church.


A container which holds the body of someone who has died. The shape of the coffin means it is wider at one end.


The committal refers to the final words said before the deceased’s body is gently lowered into the grave for burial or moved to the cremation chamber. It can take place at the end of the funeral service, graveside for burials, or in the crematorium chapel for cremations.

Condolence message

A condolence message expresses meaningful sympathy and support to those suffering a loss, typically of a loved one. It is a written message of comfort during a difficult time.


Coroners are appointed officials who investigate deaths when the cause is unclear, unnatural, occurred in custody, involves an unidentified individual, or lacks a medical certificate. Their role is to determine the how, when, and where of the death for official records and to provide answers to the bereaved family.

Cremated remains

Cremated remains, commonly referred to as human ashes, are the physical remnants that remain after a deceased person’s body undergoes the cremation process.


This is when the body, inside a coffin, is placed into a specialist chamber, called a cremator. After the cremation you or your funeral director can collect the remains, these will look like a powder and will be in a box or container.


A room or building where the body of a loved one is cremated.


Death certificate

An official certificate, authorised by the Registry Office, which confirms a death has taken place. Not to be confused with certificate for burial or cremation, or medical certificate of cause of death.

Death notice

A notice, typically found in a newspaper (or now more commonly online), that announces a person’s death and includes key information such as the time, date and location of their funeral.

Direct Cremation

A cremation with no service, mourners or ceremony. Find out more What is a Direct Cremation?


Third party services paid for by a funeral director on behalf of the bereaved family, such as crematorium fees, venue hire, catering, and flowers.


Eco-friendly funeral

A funeral which considers the environmental impacts, and focuses on making a small or non-existent carbon footprint. It will likely have a biodegradable or eco coffin, minimal vehicles, no headstone or physical marker, and occur in a natural green space i.e. woodland.


The process of using special solutions to preserve a body by delaying the natural effects of death.


Everything owned by a person at their time of death: money, property, stocks, shares, belongings, land, funds in pension schemes, and life insurance policies.


A speech delivered by a family member, close friend or celebrant during a funeral.

Executor (of the Will or estate)

The person, officially named in a Will, who has been selected to settle the estate of someone who has died.


The removal of a body from its original burial ground. This could be for relocation, or if new evidence challenges the original cause of death and another autopsy is required.



A funeral is a ceremony or service conducted shortly after a person’s death, often involving rituals and traditions associated with the deceased person’s culture or religious beliefs. This event typically includes the burial or cremation of the person who has died.

Funeral director

A funeral director is an individual who oversees the arrangements for a deceased person’s funeral in accordance with the wishes of the deceased and their grieving family. Their responsibilities typically include preparing the body, coordinating with churches or crematoria, handling paperwork, communicating with external service providers, arranging funeral transportation, and managing various other aspects of the funeral process.

Funeral expenses payment

A one-off support payment for people who receive qualifying benefits and need help covering the cost of a loved one’s funeral.

Funeral plan

A payment scheme which lets people pay for their funeral in advance.

Funeral procession

A ceremonial convoy of vehicles, usually carrying the coffin or casket and close family of the deceased, driving at a slow speed to the venue of a funeral.

Funeral service

The ceremony held to pay tribute to the life of the deceased.


Grant of probate

An official document which allows the executor of a Will (or their professional representative) to deal with the estate of the person who has died.

Grave liner

An outer burial container that is designed to support the weight of the earth around the casket to prevent the grave collapsing over time.

Grave marker

An object placed on a grave, usually a plaque, to help friends and family find their loved one’s burial plot.


A permanent stone marker that identifies where someone has been buried. It usually has their name, date of birth and death, and a few words.

Green burial

An eco-friendly alternative to traditional burials and cremation. It usually takes place in natural burial grounds, or designated woodland burial sites in larger cemeteries.



A permanent marker that identifies where someone has been buried. It usually has their name, date of birth and death, and a few words.


A vehicle designed to carry a coffin or casket in a funeral procession.


Inheritance tax

A one-off tax payment taken from the estate of someone who has died, if the value of their total assets is above a certain threshold, currently £325,000.


The process of burying a body or ashes.


If someone dies without leaving a will, their estate will go into ‘intestate’ and the court will decide who is entitled to a share of the inheritance using intestacy laws.



A small item kept in memory of the person who gave it or originally owned it.


Letters of administration

If there is no valid Will, this official document gives legal authorisation for a person to act as the administrator of the deceased’s estate.



A physical object, such as a piece of jewellery, engraved bench, grave marker, gravestone, or memorial tree, which is dedicated to someone who has died.

Memorial service

A ceremony to commemorate the life of someone who has died. It differs from a funeral in the fact that the deceased’s body is not present.


A person who looks after the deceased and prepares the body for burial or cremation.


The room or building in which the bodies of people who have died are cared for, before they are buried or cremated.


Next of kin

Someone’s closest living relative, usually a spouse or child.



A public announcement of someone’s passing, often found in newspapers, often including a brief biography of the person deceased.


A person who conducts a funeral service, such as a religious representative or celebrant.

Order of service

An overview of what is going to happen in the funeral, like an itinerary, with a brief obituary and words for any prayers, readings or hymns.



A person who carries or escorts the coffin at a funeral, typically a close friend or family member.


A medical examination of a body to find out the cause of death. This is carried out by a medical examiner called a pathologist.


Probate refers to the process of obtaining a grant of probate or letters of administration, that will provide the executor (or administrator if there is no will) with the legal authority to administer the estate of the deceased.


Registry office

A local government office where deaths, births, marriages and civil partnerships are recorded. It’s also known as a register office.


The process of transporting the body of someone who has died from one country to another. This is common if someone has died abroad.

Ritual washing

The process of family members and close friends washing and dressing the body of the deceased, in accordance with certain rites and rituals.



The family members left behind by the person who has died, such as a spouse, partner, children, and grandchildren.


Unattended cremation

A cremation which takes place privately, without friends and family of the person who has died.

Unattended funeral

This is where the burial or cremation takes place privately, without friends and family of the person who has died.


The person in charge of the body and funeral service, most commonly referred to as the funeral director.


A special container for cremated ashes.



In the context of funerals, the act of viewing the body of the deceased, typically in a mortuary or chapel of rest.



A gathering for friends and family of the deceased, usually after the funeral service, where mourners can reflect on the person who has died.


A legal document that explains what will happen to a person’s estate after they die.