Nebraska is one of only a handful of states that restrict home funerals by requiring the involvement of a licensed funeral director in many aspects of final arrangements. Here is an overview of the rules that govern home funerals in Nebraska.
By law, a licensed funeral director must oversee the final disposition of a body in Nebraska. For example, “the funeral director and embalmer in charge of the funeral of any person dying in the State of Nebraska” must complete and file the death certificate. (See Nebraska Statutes § 71-605 (2018).)
Although a funeral director must carry out disposition arrangements, Nebraska law determines who has the right to make final decisions about a person’s body and funeral services. This right goes first to any person appointed by the deceased person before death, and after that to family members in an established order.
To learn the rules and the exact order of priority, see Making Funeral Arrangements in Nebraska.
Embalming is almost never required. In Nebraska, a body must be embalmed only if:
The person in charge of filing the death certificate must do so within five days of the death. (Nebraska Statutes § 71-605 (2018).)
You will need certified copies of the death certificate to carry out certain tasks after the death, such as transferring the deceased person’s property to inheritors. The funeral director who files the death certificate should be able to order copies for you.
After filing the death certificate, the funeral director will obtain the necessary permits for transporting the body, and for burial or cremation. In Nebraska, the permit is called a “transit permit.” (See Nebraska Statutes § 71-605 (2018) and Nebraska Administrative Code, Title 172, Chapter 68 § 008 (2018).)
Burial on private property in Nebraska may be possible. In Nebraska, all burials must be supervised by a licensed funeral director, so make sure you find a funeral director who is willing to help with your burial plans.
If you wish to arrange for a home burial, check with the county or town clerk for any zoning laws or other ordinances you must follow. If you’re establishing a family cemetery, you’ll need to record it with the county clerk. The land will then be exempt from taxation. (Nebraska Statutes § 12-520 (2018).)
You must arrange cremation through a funeral director, who will obtain the required permits. (See Nebraska Statutes § 71-605 (2018) and Nebraska Administrative Code, Title 172, Chapter 69 § 007 (2018).) There are no laws in Nebraska restricting the disposition of ashes.
For more information about cremation, including information on scattering ashes, see Burial and Cremation Laws in Nebraska.
For more information about final arrangements and documenting your final wishes in advance, see Nolo’s section on Getting Your Affairs in Order.