Glossary d



A certificate of release or discharge that is given to military members upon ending active duty.

Death Certificate

A death certificate is a document containing details of a person’s death including cause of death, date and time of death, location of death, etc. A death certificate is typically issued by a medical professional or applicable state records office.

Death Notice

A written announcement about a person’s death that often includes details about their life, family, and funeral arrangements. Also known as an obituary, it is typically published in a newspaper.


This term refers to the person who died—the deceased person.


A deed is a document that conveys legal title (ownership) to real property.

Demonstrative Legacy

A demonstrative legacy typically is a gift of money that is to be paid from a specific source outlined in a will. If the amount of the demonstrative legacy named in the will is not available in the full through the specified source, the remaining amount generally is paid from the estate.


Devise means to give in a will. The term is generally used only when referring to giving real property in a will.


Just because someone is named to receive assets from a decedent’s estate does not mean that person has to accept them. If a beneficiary decides he or she does not want to receive some, or all, of the assets given by the will, the beneficiary may disclaim his or her bequest in the will. If this happens, it is as if the disclaiming person died before the decedent. People typically choose to disclaim for their own tax purposes or to avoid creditor’s claims on their share of the estate.


The act of placing the deceased’s body or cremated remains in their final resting place.

Durable Healthcare Power

If a person wants to prepare for medical care decisions if he or she is unable to make them but does not want to create a living will or advance directive, they can create a durable healthcare power. This is a form of the durable power of attorney. This allows, for example, more fluid decision-making depending on the specific situation. It also leaves decisions up to someone else. Therefore, there are advantages and drawbacks to this power, just as there are with living wills and advance directives.

When creating a durable healthcare power, a person names an agent to make healthcare decisions. This power can only be used if the person who created it is incapacitated. There are generally some restrictions on who can be named the agent. Typically, people who work at a healthcare facility cannot be an agent unless that person is related to the person creating the durable healthcare power.

The person creating the durable healthcare power can discuss specific judgments the agent might make, but in circumstances where decisions are not outlined, the agent must act in the best interest of the person who created the power. If acting in good faith and according to the power and in the best interest of the creator of the power, the agent cannot be liable. This includes freedom from criminal, civil, and professional liability.

Durable Power of Attorney

A power of attorney gives a person the ability to act as an agent on behalf of the creator. The powers can be broad or narrow, depending on the document. A person who holds the durable power of attorney for an individual during life might be named as executor in the will. The durable power of attorney expires at death but is still in effect if the creator is alive but does not have the mental capacity to act. The most common use of the durable power of attorney is to create a durable healthcare power.