Nebraska Revised Statute 71-605
Death certificate; cause of death; sudden infant death syndrome; how treated; cremation, disinterment, or transit permits; how executed; filing; requirements.
(1) The funeral director and embalmer in charge of the funeral of any person dying in the State of Nebraska shall cause a certificate of death to be filled out with all the particulars contained in the standard form adopted and promulgated by the department. Such standard form shall include a space for veteran status and the period of service in the armed forces of the United States and a statement of the cause of death made by a person holding a valid license as a physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner who last attended the deceased. The standard form shall also include the deceased's social security number and a notice that, pursuant to section 30-2413, demands for notice which may affect the estate of the deceased are filed with the county court in the county where the decedent resided at the time of death. Death and fetal death certificates shall be completed by the funeral directors and embalmers and physicians, physician assistants, or nurse practitioners for the purpose of filing with the department and providing child support enforcement information pursuant to section 43-3340.
(2) The physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner shall have the responsibility and duty to complete and sign by electronic means pursuant to section 71-603.01, within twenty-four hours from the time of death, that part of the certificate of death entitled medical certificate of death. In the case of a death when no person licensed as a physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner was in attendance, the funeral director and embalmer shall refer the case to the county attorney who shall have the responsibility and duty to complete and sign the death certificate by electronic means pursuant to section 71-603.01.
No cause of death shall be certified in the case of the sudden and unexpected death of a child between the ages of one week and three years until an autopsy is performed at county expense by a qualified pathologist pursuant to section 23-1824. The parents or guardian shall be notified of the results of the autopsy by their physician, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, community health official, or county coroner within forty-eight hours. The term sudden infant death syndrome shall be entered on the death certificate as the principal cause of death when the term is appropriately descriptive of the pathology findings and circumstances surrounding the death of a child.
If the circumstances show it possible that death was caused by neglect, violence, or any unlawful means, the case shall be referred to the county attorney for investigation and certification. The county attorney shall, within twenty-four hours after taking charge of the case, state the cause of death as ascertained, giving as far as possible the means or instrument which produced the death. All death certificates shall show clearly the cause, disease, or sequence of causes ending in death. If the cause of death cannot be determined within the period of time stated above, the death certificate shall be filed to establish the fact of death. As soon as possible thereafter, and not more than six weeks later, supplemental information as to the cause, disease, or sequence of causes ending in death shall be filed with the department to complete the record. For all certificates stated in terms that are indefinite, insufficient, or unsatisfactory for classification, inquiry shall be made to the person completing the certificate to secure the necessary information to correct or complete the record.
(3) A completed death certificate shall be filed with the department within five business days after the date of death. If it is impossible to complete the certificate of death within five business days, the funeral director and embalmer shall notify the department of the reason for the delay and file the certificate as soon as possible.
(4) Before any dead human body may be cremated, a cremation permit shall first be signed electronically by the county attorney, or by his or her authorized representative as designated by the county attorney in writing, of the county in which the death occurred on an electronic form prescribed and furnished by the department.
(5) A permit for disinterment shall be required prior to disinterment of a dead human body. The permit shall be issued by the department to a licensed funeral director and embalmer upon proper application. The request for disinterment shall be made by the person listed in section 30-2223 or a county attorney on a form furnished by the department. The application shall be signed by the funeral director and embalmer who will be directly supervising the disinterment. When the disinterment occurs, the funeral director and embalmer shall sign the permit giving the date of disinterment and file the permit with the department within ten days of the disinterment.
(6) When a request is made under subsection (5) of this section for the disinterment of more than one dead human body, an order from a court of competent jurisdiction shall be submitted to the department prior to the issuance of a permit for disinterment. The order shall include, but not be limited to, the number of bodies to be disinterred if that number can be ascertained, the method and details of transportation of the disinterred bodies, the place of reinterment, and the reason for disinterment. No sexton or other person in charge of a cemetery shall allow the disinterment of a body without first receiving from the department a disinterment permit properly completed.
(7) No dead human body shall be removed from the state for final disposition without a transit permit issued by the funeral director and embalmer having charge of the body in Nebraska, except that when the death is subject to investigation, the transit permit shall not be issued by the funeral director and embalmer without authorization of the county attorney of the county in which the death occurred. No agent of any transportation company shall allow the shipment of any body without the properly completed transit permit prepared in duplicate.
(8) The interment, disinterment, or reinterment of a dead human body shall be performed under the direct supervision of a licensed funeral director and embalmer, except that hospital disposition may be made of the remains of a child born dead pursuant to section 71-20,121.
(9) All transit permits issued in accordance with the law of the place where the death occurred in a state other than Nebraska shall be signed by the funeral director and embalmer in charge of burial and forwarded to the department within five business days after the interment takes place.
(10) The changes made to this section by Laws 2019, LB593, shall apply retroactively to August 24, 2017.
- Laws 1921, c. 253, § 2, p. 863;
- C.S.1922, § 8233;
- Laws 1927, c. 166, § 3, p. 449;
- C.S.1929, § 71-2405;
- R.S.1943, § 71-605;
- Laws 1949, c. 202, § 1, p. 585;
- Laws 1953, c. 241, § 1, p. 830;
- Laws 1961, c. 341, § 3, p. 1091;
- Laws 1965, c. 418, § 3, p. 1335;
- Laws 1973, LB 29, § 1;
- Laws 1978, LB 605, § 1;
- Laws 1985, LB 42, § 3;
- Laws 1989, LB 344, § 10;
- Laws 1993, LB 187, § 8;
- Laws 1996, LB 1044, § 517;
- Laws 1997, LB 307, § 137;
- Laws 1997, LB 752, § 172;
- Laws 1999, LB 46, § 4;
- Laws 2003, LB 95, § 33;
- Laws 2005, LB 54, § 14;
- Laws 2005, LB 301, § 25;
- Laws 2007, LB463, § 1184;
- Laws 2009, LB195, § 68;
- Laws 2012, LB1042, § 4;
- Laws 2014, LB998, § 14;
- Laws 2016, LB786, § 1;
- Laws 2017, LB268, § 15;
- Laws 2019, LB593, § 9.
Medical certificate is not admissible as proof of cause of death. O'Neil v. Union Nat. Life Ins. Co., 162 Neb. 284, 75 N.W.2d 739 (1956).
An autopsy is required and justified and may be ordered by the county attorney, without the consent of the family, whenever it is necessary to determine whether or not the cause of death of a human being involved unlawful means. Sturgeon v. Crosby Mortuary, 140 Neb. 82, 299 N.W. 378 (1941).
In a controversy between individuals where the cause of death is a material issue, the medical certificate of death, executed by the physician last in attendance, is not competent proof of the cause of death as recited therein. Omaha & C. B. St. Ry. Co. v. Johnson, 109 Neb. 526, 191 N.W. 691 (1922).