What is the meaning of next of kin and how do you appoint one?

What is the meaning of next of kin and how do you appoint one?

Not every family fits the traditional mould which can often lead to some confusion when it comes to next of kin. In this article, we’re going to take you through the literal definition of next of kin, including who can be considered as your next of kin, whether you can choose to appoint anyone as next of kin, and what kind of powers/entitlements they will have in the event of your death.

This article will be especially helpful for those who may be looking to write a last will and testament and want to ensure that their loved ones are properly cared and accounted for in your absence.

What is the next of kin meaning?

So, what does next of kin actually mean? Next of kin simply defines a person’s closest living relative through either blood or legal relationships.

When it comes to the specifics of determining next of kin and inheritance for example, it can vary by jurisdiction—though in most cases, a legal last will and testament covering inheritable property will take precedence over the inheritance rights of someone’s next of kin.

This is why it is paramount to have a last will and testament in place, clearly defining how you would like your assets to be distributed amongst your next of kin, so that there can be no confusion when the time comes.

Who is considered your next of kin?

Who is considered to be your next of kin? Your next of kin would be your closest living blood relative. However, this can include spouses and adopted family members. Again, not every family fits into the traditional mould.

What are examples of next of kin?

To save confusion, we’re going to give some examples of your next of kin, in order of who would be considered “first in line”:

  • children and their descendants;
  • parents;
  • brothers and sisters;
  • grandparents;
  • aunts and uncles.

The above applies in general, but each jurisdiction typically makes different provisions in respect to each of the categories. For example: there is some variation in different jurisdictions as to the extent at which (if any) descendants of siblings or aunts and uncles should be entitled to.
Similarly, there is often some debate as to whether recognition should be given to maternal and paternal sides of the family where grandparents or aunts and uncles are concerned.

Remember that this order broadly reflects all schemes of inheritance by degrees of relationship established. The statute of distributions establishes as order in which those next of kin in closest proximity to the intestate are entitled to take in preference over relatives of a more remote degree. For example: where no children are involved, parents are entitled as relatives of the first degree, siblings and grandparents second, nephews, nieces, aunts, and uncles third, and so on.

What does being next of kin mean?

So, what does being next of kin mean? In general, the next of kin is the closest blood relative in line to receive and assume responsibility of the intestate’s assets and funeral arrangements.

What powers do next of kin have?

What powers do the next of kin have? If the deceased has died without leaving a valid last will and testament behind, the next of kin becomes responsible for making all of the necessary, important decisions. These include, but are not limited to, funeral arrangements, legal decisions, and the management of their estate.

Can you nominate a next of kin?

So, can you nominate a next of kin? In practice, yes. Hospitals for example, typically use spouses and close blood relatives to define the next of kin. However, in some cases they will accept a nominated next of kin, such as a partner, friend, or a neighbor (provided the nominated person has agreed to it).

If you do not have children, or if you are not especially close with your family and would prefer your partner to be your next of kin, then nominating them is important. This should ideally be done in a last will and testament and they will need to be able to prove that they have agreed to it. This is particularly important if you and your partner are unmarried.

Regardless to how long you and your partner have been together, if you are unmarried and have not designated them as your next of kin, all control of assets and legal responsibility will fall to the next blood relative.

How do you appoint a next of kin?

Just how do you appoint a next of kin? This can be done in a number of ways but the best approach is to nominate a next of kin in your last will and testament.

When you complete any medical paperwork, or pre-plan for something like a burial or cremation, the service provider will likely ask you to provide the name of a next of kin. Again, this is something that they need to consent to for the nomination to stand.

How do you prove next of kin?

How can you prove your next of kin? Proving who the next of kin requires a legal proof of identify, such as a birth certificate or any other government-issued photo identification (i.e., a valid passport). - An affidavit may also be required of someone who can swear to be your blood relative


And that is about everything you need to know about next of kin. It’s always good to be prepared, as we never know what is around the corner. If you have people in your life that you deeply care about, who otherwise wouldn’t be legally classed as your next of kin, then this is something that you need to specify as soon as possible. Otherwise, if in the event of your untimely death, the person you would have liked to be your next of kin will have no legal rights whatsoever.

If you have any questions or would like further assistance with pre-planning funeral arrangements, then please do not hesitate to contact us today.
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