Every LGBT person should take the necessary steps to put their legal matters in order: that includes making a will, drawing up a power of attorney, and for finances, signing a living will, and leaving directions about your funeral plans. The reason it's important for people in same-sex relationships to have legal documents in place is because without them, your partner will not have any legal authority to handle these matters for you. This article will briefly describe one of the newest rights we all have under Nebraska law designating who will have the right to make your after-death arrangements.
Nebraska Revised Statute 38-1425 allows anyone, including your same sex partner, to be designated as having the right to make decisions about disposition of remains. "Disposition of remains" is an important issue, because it includes whether you'll be buried or cremated, where the burial will occur, ad who keeps the ashes if you are cremated. It may also include what sort of funeral service you have. The law allows you to leave these decisions to anyone you want, but the power must be granted in writing. You can do this at the same time as writing your will; just have an attorney to include a section about your wishes. Or, if you don't currently have a will be want to make sure you're protected in this area, use a form such as the one on the back of this fact sheet. The safest course is to have your wishes in writing AND in a will, but you should consult you attorney about this and other estate planning issues, as these are separate from Disposition of remains.
If you do not have a written will or a separate form, the law will choose who makes these after-death decisions for you. Even if your partner is named as your personal representative (or testator), they will not automatically have he right to dispose of your remains unless you leave written instructions. Without the form or will, Nebraska law looks at a list of your biological relations who have the right to step in after our death and take over all after-death arrangements. Without adequate planning, your partner could face a tragedy and be stripped of decision making power. Until we have equal rights of recognition of our relationships under the law, it is crucial for each of us to take what steps we can to protect our partners: making a written document naming who will carry out your after-death wishes is a simple but vital step.