Funeral & Legal Estate Terms

Acknowledgement Cards
Preprinted note cards expressing thanks for thoughtful acts toward the family of the deceased.

Arrangement Conference
The meeting between a funeral director and family and friends of a recently deceased person to decide on a plan for a final resting place and services or gatherings to acknowledge the death.

Attorney in Fact
Any person granted the power of attorney.

Authorizing Agent
A person appointed by an individual to carry out their wishes at the time of their death.

Authorizing Agent Form
Official document allowing someone other than the next of kin to be in charge of funeral arrangements at the time of their death.

Recipient of the proceeds of a will or insurance policy.

Gift of property made in a will.

Body Donation
Donation of the whole body after death for medical research and education.  The University of South Dakota has a small transportation and cremation fee at the time of donation. Other institutions may vary.

Placing human remains in the ground. Also known as interment.

Burial Permit
Required by the States of South Dakota and Minnesota for human remains to be buried or cremated.

Container designed for holding human remains. Usually made of wood or metal.

Structure or building at a cemetery designed for housing cremation urns.

Committal Service
Final portion of the funeral service when the deceased is interred or entombed.

Regulated process using intense heat in a chamber to reduce human remains to bone fragments. South Dakota law requires a 24 hour waiting period from time of death before cremation may begin. We operate our own crematory in partnership with Miller Crematory. We do not use a third party provider which makes us different from other funeral homes.

Chamber in a mausoleum that holds casketed human remains. Hills of Rest Memorial Park in Sioux Falls is the only local cemetery with a public mausoleum. Go to to see a crypt.

Death Certificate
Legal document signed by a medical professional certifying the death of an individual.

Refers to any manner in which human remains will be taken care of including burial, entombment, cremation or body donation.

Procedure to temporarily preserve human remains making it possible to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition. It also sanitizes the body and can help to restore the appearance of the deceased after a traumatic death or illness.

Casket placed in an above ground crypt in a mausoleum.

Estate Recovery Program
After the death of a person who has received Title XIX funded medical assistance, federal law mandates that states have a program in place requiring that the deceased's remaining assets be returned to the state as repayment for assistance rendered.

Speech given to pay tribute to and memorialize the deceased.

Executor/Executrix or Personal Representative
Individual named as the person who administers an estate.

Final Disposition
The last process in which remains will be finally taken care of including burial, entombment or cremation.

Funeral Service
Religious or secular ceremony with the remains present for the bereaved to honor the life and say goodbye to the deceased.

Grave Liner
A box or receptacle made of concrete or other durable material in the grave into which the casket is placed to prevent the grave from sinking over time. Most states do not have laws that require it, though most cemeteries do. Also see vault or outer burial container.

Grave Marker
A method of identifying the occupant of a grave. A permanent grave marker is usually metal or stone. It normally gives the name and dates of birth and death of the deceased and may include other information, such as children's names, wedding date, etc.

Graveside Service
Also called a committal service or interment, the final portion of the funeral service when the deceased is buried.

Green Burial
Green Burials are natural burial alternatives that often aim to avoid chemical preservatives or traditional metal and wood caskets. Remains may be buried in containers made of easily biodegradable materials, such as cardboard, wicker or pine. Outer burial containers may or may not be required. Two Sioux Falls cemeteries allow green burial.

Keepsake Urn
A container made to hold a portion of the cremated remains of a loved one. It is smaller than a traditional urn so as to allow the cremated body to be split between multiple keepsake urns or a combination of scattering and keepsake urns.

Lying In State
The custom of allowing friends and family to visit and possibly view the body of the deceased. Also see visitation.

Placing a cremated body in an urn. Sometimes used as a term indicating placement of the urn in a cemetery or columbarium space.

The act of burying human remains in a grave. The remains can be casketed or cremated.

Dying without a legal will.

Liturgical Wake Service
In the Catholic faith, a prayer service held the day before the funeral mass, usually in the evening. It is the first part of the Catholic rite, followed by the Mass of Christian Burial and Interment.

Living Trust
Trust that has been established during the life of the trustee.

Living Will
Legal document that details the wishes of an individual concerning his or her medical care, especially with respect to life-sustaining technology and resuscitation.

Mass Card
Card sent to a bereaved family that says the sender has arranged for a Catholic Mass to be said in memory of the deceased.

Building (usually on cemetery grounds) that holds casketed human remains in crypts. It may also contain niches for urns that are made of glass, and bronze or materials such as granite or marble. Go to to see a local public mausoleum.

Memorial Service or Gathering
Religious or secular ceremony without the remains present for the bereaved to honor the life and say goodbye to the deceased.

In a mausoleum or columbarium, an individual chamber where an urn is placed.

Term used in death notices to indicate a person's maiden name.

Opening and Closing Fees
Cemetery fees for the digging and refilling of a grave or preparing a crypt or niche.

Outer Burial Container
Container that surrounds the casket in the grave. Also see vault or grave liner.

Individuals (close family and friends usually) asked to carry the casket. Can also be honorary.

Perpetual Care Trust Funds
Certain portion of the cost of a burial plot or niche that is set aside in a trust fund for its ongoing care (usually for grounds keeping).

Personal Representative
Name of an individual(s) named in a will to carry out terms of a will or trust.

Specific area of ground in a cemetery owned by a family or individual, usually containing two or more graves.

Power of Attorney (POA)
An authorization to act on someone else's behalf in a legal or business matter. Usually a POA designation ceases upon death.

Prearranged Funeral (sometimes called Preneed or Preplanning)
Funeral arrangements completed by an individual prior to his/her death.

Prearranged Funeral Trust
Method by which an individual can prefund their funeral expenses.

Court process of proving the validity of a will.

Procession sometimes called Cortege
The movement of funeral attendees from the place where the funeral service was held to the cemetery. May also apply to a church funeral where family members follow the casket as it is brought into and taken out of the sanctuary of a church.

Human Remains
The body of deceased individual.

Right of Survivorship
Occurs when a joint property owner has provided for the passing of all property into the hands of the surviving joint owner.

Person making a valid will.

Title XIX (Nineteen)
1965 federal law that provides for medical assistance (usually nursing home care) to those who cannot afford to pay for it.

Usually a fund, though it may be made up of property. It is held and managed by one person for the benefit of another (or others).

Container made for holding cremated human remains.

Solid container, usually made of concrete, said by the manufacturer to keep the casket and its contents clean and dry by sealing the lid to the base. Also see outer burial container or grave liner.

See Liturgical Wake Service

Usually held at the funeral home the day before a funeral or memorial service, this is a scheduled time when friends and family pay respects and visit. A casket or urn may or may not be present.

Watch kept over the deceased. Sometimes used to mean visitation.

Legal document stating the intentions of the deceased concerning the dispersal of their belongings, the care of their remains and other relevant matters.

Sioux Falls location
3408 E. 10th Street
Sioux Falls,SD 57103
Brandon Valley location
2500 E. Aspen Blvd
P.O. Box 168
Brandon, SD 57005