American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS): A survey of religious beliefs and preferences conducted by the United States Census Bureau.

Atheist: Someone who does not believe in any God.

Asset(s): Property owned by the Deceased, usually thought of as “real” property (real estate), and “personal” (belongings).

Attorney-in-fact: A person who has power of attorney to act on behalf of another.

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Basic Housing Allowance (BHA): A sum provided to military service members and survivors to help cover living expenses.

Beneficiary Financial Counseling Services (BFCS): A service offered to survivors of the armed forces that provides grief counseling.

Beneficiary: Person(s) designated to benefit from a contract, policy, or other document. Beneficiaries are named on insurance policies and other important documents.

Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA): A division of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) that: “supports law enforcement, courts, corrections, treatment, victim services, technology, and prevention initiatives that strengthen the nation’s criminal justice system” (BJA web site).

Burial: Placing the Deceased in an underground chamber.

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Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS): A retirement program for federal employees.

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA): A law that requires employers with 20 or more full-time employees to offer continuing health care coverage to employees who leave their jobs for any reason.

Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures (CUSIP): The body that assigns a number to each security (stocks and bonds) that consists of 9 characters. This number identifies the company or the issuer of the security.

Conservator: Refers to the person appointed by a court to care for a person/property.

Conservatorship: A legal status given to a caregiver who has the right to make decisions about the finances and property of their ward. The ward is generally considered incompetent to make such decisions.

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Death Certificate: A legal certificate signed by a physician, coroner, or other official that documents cause of death and other information about the Deceased.

Decedent: An individual who is deceased.

Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS): A database maintained by the military that includes important contact and other information.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS): Established by President George Bush after September 11, 2001, to coordinate the security of the United States of America.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC): A benefit offered to the survivors of veterans.

Durable Power of Attorney: A legal document that gives one person (the attorney-in-fact) the authority to act on behalf of another (the principal) that becomes and remains effective ONLY when the principal is incapacitated.

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Embalm: Embalming is the process of preserving the remains for the funeral. Chemicals such as formaldehyde are injected into the bloodstream and organs of the remains to prevent them from decomposing. The Deceased is usually dressed in an outfit chosen by the family, and a cosmetologist works to improve the appearance of the Deceased.

Estate: A legal term that refers to all of the Deceased’s assets and debts.

Eulogy: A speech about the Deceased that praises them and helps to celebrate their life.

Executor: A person nominated by the Deceased in the will to carry out their wishes after he/she passes away.

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Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI): A life insurance policy for members of the armed services that is extended to spouses and family members after death.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): Part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that is responsible for the response, handling, and recovery from disasters.

Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHB): The health care plan provided to federal employees and sometimes their survivors.

Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS): A retirement program for federal employees.

Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA): The federal law that provides for employees who are injured or die as a result of their job.

Funeral Director: Usually the person who runs or manages a funeral home and assists families in making arrangements.

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Guardianship: When someone has complete custody over a person (called a ward) and their property. A guardian is responsible for taking care of their ward and managing their property and rights.

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Healthcare Directive: Also called advanced healthcare directive or just advanced directive, this document provides instructions related to the medical care of someone who might become incapacitated. These documents are prepared ahead of time and tell family and doctors a person's wishes should they be unable to make their own medical decisions. Directions about resuscitation and life support are some things that might be included.

Healthcare Proxy: This is a document that designates someone to make medical decisions on behalf of the principle. Some states require a healthcare proxy document rather than a power of attorney in order for someone to make healthcare decisions on behalf of another.

Hometown Heroes Survivor Benefit: An amendment made to the survivor benefits of public service officers that classifies a heart attack or stroke as an injury under certain criteria.

Human Resources Representative: A person at an employer who handles hiring, firing, benefits, and other matters relating to the management of employees.

Humanist: A person who believes in science and reason, is interested in humans and their activities and usually rejects religion.

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Inurnment: Placing the ashes of the Deceased in an urn.

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Malware: Short for malicious software. Refers to programs that are deliberately damaging or disrupting to a system.

Mausoleum: An above ground building that is designed for entombments. In the United States, these are often built to hold the remains of specific families, so the family will have their own mausoleum where all members are entombed.

Montgomery GI Bill/Veterans Educational Assistance Program (MGIB/VEAP): A program offered to members of the armed services that contains a death benefit for survivors.

MWR: Moral, Welfare, and Recreation facilities provided to veterans that can sometimes be used by survivors.

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Next of Kin: The nearest blood relative to the Deceased. Also includes the spouse.

Niche: A hollowed out place in the wall that is made specifically to hold an urn containing the ashes of the Deceased.

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OPM: United States Office of Personnel Management Retirement Operations Center which manages the benefits of federal employees.

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Pallbearer: A pallbearer is a person, usually from the Deceased’s family, who helps to carry the casket. They carry the casket into the building for the funeral and from the funeral to the hearse outside. Several people are required to carry the casket.

Person Authorized to Direct Disposition of Human Remains (PADD): A person who helps to make funeral and other arrangements for deceased veterans.

Personal Representative: A person who takes charge of probating an estate or handling the Deceased’s affairs. This can refer both to the legal personal representative, who is appointed by the court, or to any person handling the Deceased’s affairs.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): According to Johns Hopkins medical, PTSD is defined as: “A form of chronic psychological stress that follows exposure to a traumatic event such as an earthquake, a violent crime (rape, child abuse, murder), torture, an accident, or warfare.”

Power of Attorney: A legal document that gives one person (the attorney-in-fact) the authority to act on behalf of another (the principal). It expires upon death or incapacitation.

Principal: As with power of attorney, a person who has agreed to let a power of attorney have some control over their affairs.

Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB): A benefits program designed specifically for those who are Public Safety Officers—police officers, firefighters, and first responders.

Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program (PSOB): A benefits program for public safety officers at all levels of government which includes a death benefit for survivors.

Public Safety Officers’ Educational Assistance program (PSOEA): A program specified under the PSOB to provide educational assistance to survivors of public safety officers.

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Readjustment and Counseling Services (RCS): A program administrated by the Veteran’s Administration which can provide mental health help to the survivors of veterans.

Real property: This refers to land, anything on the land, and improvements made to it.

Rights to Survivorship: A provision that is often included in financial agreements or bank accounts. It stipulates that the account passes to the joint account owner(s) upon the death of the primary account holder.

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Secular: Not religious.

Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI): A life insurance policy offered to members of the armed services that benefits their survivors after death.

Spyware: Software installed without the knowledge of the user (usually via applications downloded on the Internet) that records data such as passwords and other activity and sends it to an outside source.

Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP): A survivor benefit offered by the United States Department of Defense.

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Term Life Insurance: Life insurance that covers the insured for a specific price and period of time.

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United States Department of Defense (DOD): The division of the United States government that governs the armed services.

Universal Life Insurance: In this type of life insurance policy, the owner pays more than the premium amount. The extra funds go toward an investment. The returns and investment go into a cash-value account that can be used to pay the premium or allowed to accrue.

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Variable Life Insurance: This type of policy is the same as a universal life insurance policy, but has more options for investment.

Visitation: A period of time in which survivors can view the remains in private, usually before a funeral.

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Wake: When a watch is kept over the Deceased, sometimes overnight.

Whole Life Insurance: This life insurance policy lasts the insured’s entire life; it pays out the value of the policy upon death. It may also have an investment component.

Ward: Someone who is placed under protection of a guardian.

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