Nebraska Home Funeral Laws

Learn the rules that govern home funerals in Nebraska.

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.

You Must Use a Funeral Director 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).)

Who Makes Decisions About Body Disposition and Funeral Arrangements?

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.

Must the Body Be Embalmed?

Embalming is almost never required. In Nebraska, a body must be embalmed only if:

  • the person died of any communicable disease listed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), unless the person is placed in a hermetically sealed container immediately after death
  • final disposition will not occur within 24 hours following death, unless the body is refrigerated, which is allowed for no more than 72 hours, or
  • the body will be transported by common carrier, such as an airplane or train.

(Nebraska Administrative Code, Title 172, Chapter 68 § 008 (2018).)

Getting a Death Certificate

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.

Getting a Permit to Transport the Body

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).)

Can You Bury a Body at Home?

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).)

What About Cremation?

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.

Learn More About Home Funerals

To learn more about home funerals, visit the National Home Funeral Alliance website. The book Final Rights, by Joshua Slocum and Lisa Carlson, also offers extensive information on the subject.

For more information about final arrangements and documenting your final wishes in advance, see Nolo’s section on Getting Your Affairs in Order.

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