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How to Find a Death Record in Nebraska?

What Are Death Records in Nebraska?

Death records are documents containing information about death events. They provide vital data about the causes of deaths, identities of decedents, and the circumstances surrounding their deaths. Nebraska death records document death events that occur within the boundaries of the state. They provide vital statistics that help in assessing the state’s public health system. Nebraska death records are particularly essential for developing, implementing, and monitoring health programs and policies in the state.

Nebraska started a statewide registration of deaths in 1904. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has been the legal custodian of death records from that time to date. The Nebraska Office of Vital Records issues death records as death certificates upon request. A typical death record in Nebraska contains the following data:

  • The decedent’s full name
  • Decedent’s gender
  • Decedent’s age
  • Parents’ full names
  • Decedent’s marital status (at the time of death)
  • Full name of decedent’s surviving spouse
  • Decedent’s date of birth
  • Decedent’s date of death
  • Decedent’’s place of birth
  • Decedent’s place of death
  • Occupation/Profession of the decedent
  • Decedent's Social Security Number (SSN)
  • The cause of death
  • Certification of the attending physician

In Nebraska, death records are commonly used for genealogical purposes. Investigative agencies may also use them to determine if a wrongful death was committed. Other uses of death records include:

  • Accessing pension benefits of the decedent
  • Claiming life insurance purchased by the decedent
  • Settling wills and administering estates
  • Getting remarried (if a former spouse has passed)
  • Arranging for a funeral

How are Death Records Created in Nebraska?

According to Nebraska Revised Statutes § 71-605, a death certificate must be created within five days from the time of death. A death record is created by filing the event with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). In Nebraska, the funeral director/embalmer in charge of the decedent’s funeral initiates the filing process. The attending physician is required to fill out the medical section of the death certificate within 24 hours from the time of death. If a physician was absent at the time of death, then the funeral director must refer the death event to the county attorney.

How to Find Death Records Online in Nebraska

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) does not maintain an online death records database. Hence persons wishing to look up death records online cannot do so. Also, it does not provide an online platform where individuals can request and obtain death records. However, records of deaths that occurred in Nebraska between 1904 to 1968 are currently available online to eligible requesters. Some third-party vital records providers have compiled death indexes composed of free searchable databases and digitized images of death events within those 64 years. To obtain death records online in Nebraska, requesters can use the services provided by third-party vital records vendors approved by the State Vital Records Office. Requesters must be willing to pay additional fees for using the services of independent vital records vendors.

Considered open to citizens of the United States, public records are available through both traditional, government sources, and through third-party websites and organizations. In many cases, third-party websites make the search easier as they are not limited geographically or by technological limitations. They are considered a good place to start when looking for a specific record or multiple records. In order to gain access to these records, interested parties must typically provide:

  • The name of the person listed in the record. Juveniles are typically exempt from this search method.
  • The last known or assumed location of the person listed in the record. This includes cities, counties, and states.

While third-party sites offer such services, they are not government-sponsored entities, and record availability may vary on these sites when compared to government sources.

How to Find Death Records for Free in Nebraska

Generally, obtaining copies of death records in Nebraska is not free. Eligible requesters must pay the stipulated fees for a search and one certified copy if the document is found. Completed Application for Certified Copy of Death Certificate and requesters’ valid government-issued IDs are also required to find death records in Nebraska. However, death records of decedents who were army veterans can be obtained at no cost. In line with state law, a person requesting a veteran’s death record must first prove that the decedent was indeed a veteran. In Nebraska, interested persons can obtain certified copies of death records from the DHHS Office of Vital Records and the Local Health Departments (LHDs).

A requester should attach any of the following acceptable photo IDs with a completed Application for Certified Copy of Death Certificate to obtain a Nebraska death record:

  • Current driver’s license
  • Passport/Visa
  • Military ID
  • State-issued ID

Requesters can also use any two of the following forms of identification bearing their names, addresses, and signatures if they cannot provide any valid photo ID:

  • Utility bills
  • Certified copy of school record
  • Social security card
  • Department of Corrections ID card or release documents
  • Copy of recent pay stub

When applying for a copy of a death record in Nebraska, a requester should provide the following information accurately to prevent an undue delay in processing their request:

  • The decedent’s full name (include maiden name, if married)
  • The date of death (indicate a range of years if the exact date of death is unknown or uncertain)
  • The place of death
  • Requester’s relationship to the decedent
  • The purpose for requesting the death record

If a death record request will require a search, an applicant should provide additional information, such as:

  • Decedent’s year of birth
  • Decedent’s place of birth
  • Full name of decedent’s spouse
  • Decedent’s residential address
  • Full names of the decedent’s parents

Where Can I Get Death Records in Nebraska?

Nebraska death records are available at the State Office of Vital Records and the Local health departments (LHDs) in Nebraska counties.

State Office of Vital Records

A requester can obtain a death record by submitting a completed Application for Certified Copy of Death Certificate to the State Office of Vital Records. They can do so in person or by mail but must ensure to attach copies of their valid IDs.

For in-person requests, qualified persons can visit the State Office of Vital Records with their applications at:

Office of Vital Records
Department of Health & Human Services
Suite 130
1033 O Street
Lincoln, NE 68508-3621

Apart from holidays, the state office processes walk-in death record requests from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Requesters can call the State Office of Vital Records on (402) 471-2871 for additional inquiries.

To submit mail-in death record requests, applicants should mail completed applications, enclosed with self-addressed stamped envelopes and payment proof to:

Vital Records Office
P. O. Box 95065
Lincoln, NE 68509-5065

Local Health Departments

The State Office of Vital Records maintains a statewide network of local vital records offices housed within local health departments in all its counties. In Nebraska, eligible persons can apply for copies of death records at the local vital records offices in the decedents’ place (county) of death.

Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Death Certificate in Nebraska?

Nebraska death certificates are closed records and are restricted from public access. They are only available to specific persons who must provide proof of eligibility to get copies of their death records of interest. Individuals who can obtain certified copies of death certificates in Nebraska include:

  • The decedent’s spouse
  • The decedent’s parents
  • The decedent’s adult child
  • A representative authorized by law.

Only the parents are qualified to request copies of stillbirth/fetal death certificates. They can be obtained using a completed Application for Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth. The applicant is required to attach a copy of a valid government-issued ID, a $17 check, or a money order while submitting the request. Per Nebraska Administrative Code, Title 174, Chapter 3, persons requesting Nebraska death certificates must be able to demonstrate the need for proper use of such records. Examples of the proper purpose of death records in Nebraska include:

  • Establishing the fact of death or identity in probate or estate action
  • Determining a legal relationship with another person or property rights like insurance or inheritance
  • Transferring title to a motor vehicle or property
  • Genealogical purposes for deaths that occurred at least 50 years ago or if the family approves of the death record use
  • Approved medical research or historical research
  • Government and media use

How Much Does a Death Certificate Cost in Nebraska?

A certified copy of a death certificate in Nebraska costs $16. Additional copies also cost $16 each. The cost of a copy of a fetal death certificate is $17.These fees are non-refundable. The acceptable means of payment are money orders or checks, payable to the Nebraska Vital Records. However, some county health departments accept cash payments for walk-in death record requests.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Death Certificate in Nebraska?

In Nebraska, it takes at least 15 days to process a mail-in death record request. Requesters can choose an expedited shipping service to get mailed certificates within two business days. The processing time for an in-person application is about thirty minutes.

How Long to Keep Records After Death

Nebraska state law stipulates specific periods for maintaining a decedent’s records. These durations are determined based on the type of records under consideration:

  • Medical records are preserved for at least ten years after death, although in practice, most health providers retain them for a longer time
  • Tax and financial records are maintained for at least seven years to allow adequate time to file final tax returns by the IRS.
  • Court records, especially those related to probate and estate proceedings, are kept indefinitely by the Clerk of Court.

How to Expunge Death Records in Nebraska

Death records do not qualify for expungement in Nebraska. Typically, expungement applies to criminal records and refers to the legal process of permanently erasing a person’s record.

How to Seal Death Records in Nebraska

Presently, Nebraska does not seal death records because they are essential and constitute a part of the state’s vital statistics. Doing that will not comply with state laws that permit the use of the information in death records for policy and public health management.

How to Unseal Death Records in Nebraska

This is not applicable in Nebraska since there is no provision for sealing death records.