This section provides you with some general descriptions of the terms and concepts important to families at the time of a death.

Final Arrangements

Care Fund

Most cemeteries by law, and out of good practice, take a percentage of the monies paid for a grave and marker (gravestone/headstone) and place it into a special trust fund. This fund is used for the care and maintenance of the cemetery. This fund is usually 25% of the total pre tax amount. Some cemeteries will show this percentage broken out; other cemeteries will simply take it off what you pay them. These funds help finance the long term operations of a cemetery long after the revenue from sales has ended.


A cemetery is land designated by the government as set apart to be used as a  place of burial of human remains or cremated remains and includes any incidental or ancillary buildings on the land. It can include below ground casket burial, mausoleums for above ground burial of caskets, columbaria for the above ground burial of urns and a whole host of scattering options for cremated remains. Cemeteries are either public run, by the local government, or are privately owned.

Cemetery Services

Speaks to the day to day operations of a cemetery and the disposition of human remains by interment or cremation. It also includes the supply of goods incidental to and as a part of interment or cremation,. These services can include such things as staff to maintain the grounds, installation of markers (gravestones), and the burial or disinterment of human remains to name a few.

Cemetery Property

A grave, crypt, or niche. With most public cemeteries when you purchase cemetery property you are purchasing the Right of Interment and do not receive a deed to the land. When purchasing land at a private cemetery, traditionally you actually own the plot privately and receive a deed. In Canada, cemetery property, once purchased, is yours in perpetuity.


Very similar to a mausoleum for caskets, a columbarium is a smaller version for cremated remains. It is a structure or building that contains free standing sections or niches for the inurnment of cremated remains. Niches (or spaces for cremated remains) allow for either one set of cremated remains or, when selected ,two as part of a companion niche.

Cremated Remains (Ashes)

After cremation has taken place, the cremated remains are then processed to fine sand-like consistency and returned to the family in an urn. The volume and colour of cremated remains can vary from 3-10lbs and white to dark grey in colour.



A building used for cremating human remains and includes other equipment incidental or ancillary to that purpose. Often a crematorium will be constructed alongside a morgue facility so that human remains can be sheltered and moved for cremation inside the same facility.



Is one part of the process in the final disposition of human remains. Human remains are first placed in a container suitable to hold and move the remains and are combustible. Metal caskets and certain pollutants like mercury, fibreglass and rubber cannot be cremated with the deceased. Extreme heat, flame, and airflow are used to reduce the body to bone fragments (primarily calcium). Further processing gives the bone fragments a uniform size and consistency. With cremation you can still have viewings, visitations and ceremonies with the casket present. Simply put, instead of proceeding to the cemetery after the service, you would proceed to the crematorium.


Disinterment is to remove human remains that have been interred or buried. From there the remains would be reinterred in another cemetery or cremated. This is a costly and timely procedure that must involve permission from the government, the presence of a licensed funeral director and the professional services of the cemetery staff. If you are interested in disinterring human remains, you should begin by contacting us for professional advice, as funeral directors traditionally have to remove and transfer the human remains - not the cemetery staff. Furthermore, the funeral director makes the applications for all the required permits.


A licensed professional who completed either a two year course or was registered in a two year workplace-based apprenticeship program. The study is focused on anatomy, the changes to human remains after death and the techniques to ensure proper disinfection, preservation, preparation or restoration of the human remains.


This is the act of placing a casket in a mausoleum.


The exposure and removal of interred human remains for the purposes of viewing or examination. See Disinterment

Funeral Contract

A contract that provides for funeral services, which can include the arrangement process, the facilities and work completed by the funeral director(s), ceremonies, burial or cremation and a whole host of ancillary products, services and payments to third parties. At Alternatives Funeral and Cremation Services™, a typical contact would contain the professional staff services of the funeral home, charges for cremation or part of the burial costs, service items such as guest books, handout cards, urns, audio visual equipment, reception facilities and food and many more. We will also help with coordinating third party charges such as obituaries, clergy, taxes, and death certificates to name a few. A well executed funeral contract should save families a great deal of time, stress and money.

Funeral Director

Like an embalmer, a funeral director must graduate from a mortuary college or a two year plus workplace apprenticeship program. We are often licensed embalmers as well. Our job is to handle human remains, the family’s needs at the time of death, arranging ceremonial details regarding services and or disposition. We also work with a whole host of government and third parties to ensure services and the disposition of human remains is carried out efficiently, professionally and according to law.

Technically speaking, a funeral director is an individual who, in the course of business, does any of the following:

  • negotiates or enters into funeral contracts with families on behalf of the funeral home;
  • arranges, conducts or directs bereavement rites and ceremonies;
  • arranges for the interment or cremation of human remains;
  • transfers human remains or directs or supervises the transfer of human remains;
  • cares for or prepares human remains prior to disposition, other than the disinfecting, preservation or restoration of human remains;

Funeral Provider

A licensed funeral home or funeral company that provides funeral services;

Funeral Services

People often think that the term ‘funeral services’ means only traditional style ceremonies with caskets, viewings, and rituals. The term actually encompasses a wide array of professional services and tasks performed by licensed funeral directors, embalmers and other support staff in a licensed funeral provider’s facility, including:

  • Meeting with families to make arrangements and services related to the interment or cremation of human remains
  • care and preparation of human remains
  • bereavement rites and ceremonies, and
  • the supply of goods selected  as part of the arrangements, services, care, preparation and bereavement rites and ceremonies


Is a space in the ground in a cemetery for the burial of casketed human remains. It is often referred to as a plot. Graves can be purchased for one casket, double depth for two, side by side for two and come with a whole host of options to cover the casket inside the grave (liner). The grave is then traditionally marked by a grave marker of granite or bronze.


Is the technical definition for the more common term – burial. Interment is disposition by:

  • burial of human remains or cremated remains, in the ground inside a ‘grave’ or ‘plot’;
  • entombment of human remains in a mausoleum;
  • inurnment of cremated remains in a columbarium.

Interment Right Holder

This is a person who owns a right of interment. A term more often reserved for those who have purchased a cemetery plot (or grave) from a municipal cemetery, this designation gives them the right to be interred (buried) or to name another person to use the grave. It can mean that you own the right, but not the land, into which you, or somebody you designate can be interred.


Burial of an urn above or below ground.


A space that is officially allocated to hold a grave for human or cremated remains. On this lot the cemetery would develop and offer for sale: a grave, crypt, niche or plot.


A structure or building that contains:

  • interior or exterior crypts designed for the entombment of human remains, or
  • both interior or exterior crypts designed for the entombment of human remains and niches for the inurnment of cremated remains.


A niche is an above ground space to hold an urn. Single (1 urn) or Companion (2 urns). These niches are usually made of metal and then covered with granite to which a plaque is either inscribed or hung. The niches are all individual spaces placed together in one wall, or a collection of walls called columbarium.

Ossuary or Vault

An underground container that holds cremated remains. Here the ashes are scattered (or poured) into the receptacle. Ashes are co mingled with others, communal. This is the more accepted way of scattering inside cemeteries. It allows the cemetery to move the ashes, if necessary; ensures that the land used for the scattering will remain untouched; and allows the location to be properly marked. It also is a more effective method of disposing of ashes in terms of maintenance and overall ascetics.

Right of Interment

This means that you have purchased the right to be interred in a casket or perhaps an urn if you choose. This right cannot be taken back from you, before or after death, nor can the cemetery demand more funds at any time for upgrading, or upkeep of the cemetery. This sale is made to you in perpetuity.


When making funeral arrangements the executor/executrix is legally in charge of the Right of Disposition. If however there is no Last Will the spouse is the next in the order of priority. A spouse is defined as a person who:

  • is married to another person,
  • is united to another person by a marriage that, although not a legal marriage, is valid at common law, or
  • has lived and cohabited with another person in a marriage-like relationship, including a marriage-like relationship between persons of the same gender, for a period of at least 2 years immediately before the other person's death;




Wills and Estates

Administration or Grant of Administration

A legal procedure wherein the court appoints someone (an administrator) to administer the estate of a deceased person who died without a Will. The Court’s authority for that administrator to act is given in a Grant of Letters of Administration.



Someone who is given authority by the court to manage and administer the estate of a deceased person who dies without a Will. When an administrator is appointed, the court issues a Grant of Letters of Administration.


Adult Interdependent Partner

A person with whom you are in an adult interdependent relationship.



What you own. Assets can include things such as money, land, investments, and personal possessions such as jewellery and furniture.



A person or organization that you leave something to in your Will.



Personal property left to someone in a Will.



A document made after the Will that changes some of the terms in your Will.



What you owe. These can also be called “liabilities” and may include credit card balances, loans, and mortgages.


All of the property and belongings you own at your death. The estate does not include property you own with someone else in joint tenancy, or joint bank accounts. The estate does not include insurance policies, RRSPs or RRIFs, or other things you own which specifically names someone as your beneficiary.


The person you name in your Will who is responsible for managing your estate and for carrying out the instructions in your Will. This person is also in charge of making the legal decision on how human remains are handled after a death and once the deceased is in the care of a licensed funeral provider. They decide on viewings, embalming and whether it will be cremation or burial. They do not always have to sign the documentation but they must give their consent to those family members making the final arrangements.


A person who has died without leaving a Will.

Last Will and Testament

The legal statement of a person’s last wishes as to the disposition of his or her property after death.

Probate (or “grant of probate”)

A legal procedure that confirms the Will can be acted on and authorizes the Executor to act. The procedure includes submitting special forms and the original Will to the court.


A person who has made a Will.


The person or company you name to manage a trust.