The term “next of kin” is often used in medical decisions, but what does it mean? In Australia, a person’s next of kin is their closest living relative. It could be their spouse or de facto partner, child, parent, grandparent, sibling, or any other blood relative.
In some cases, a person may appoint someone who is not their next of kin to make medical decisions on their behalf. It is an enduring power of attorney and can get arranged through a solicitor.
If you are someone who wants to learn the meaning of next of kin, we have explained all about the same below. Let’s begin with –
What is the Next of Kin?
Next of kin, as previously mentioned, refers to those who are related to one another through blood, marriage, or another type of legal connection, such as adoption. This connection aids in determining who would benefit from a decedent’s inheritance under the laws of descent and distribution in the absence of a Will. The spouse is the next of kin in this situation.
When someone passes away without leaving a Will, inheritance rights are based on the next-of-kin relationship. Relative people may also have obligations throughout and beyond that person’s life. For instance, the next of kin could have to decide on a person’s medical care if they become disabled or handle their financial and burial arrangements after they pass away.
Typically, the rights of the next-of-kin to inherit property covered by a valid and properly executed will take precedence. But in jurisdictions, if the deceased did not make a Will, their assets typically pass to their spouse. Postnuptial agreements may amend or terminate these rights in the event of a divorce between the couple. Generally, a surviving spouse’s inheritance rights are unaffected by their subsequent marriage.
The person who is next of kin receives the estate in the absence of a surviving spouse. Direct descendants are the first in the inheritance line, followed by their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on.
Depending on the jurisdiction, adopted children and stepchildren have different legal statuses. The line of inheritance goes up to the parents if the deceased had no children. If the parents are deceased, collateral heirs (brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews) are the next in line.
Who Qualifies Next of Kin?
In Australia, the term “next of kin” is not formally defined by law, but there is sufficient information to identify the senior next of kin. The senior next of kin varies from state to state in Australia; however, the coroner typically designates a family member as the primary point of contact. The closest living relative to a person is regarded as their spouse or next of kin. Examples of potential next of kin in order of proximity are provided in the list below:
- A spouse
- Adult kids (those under the age of 18)
- Siblings who are older than 18
- A person identified as the senior next of kin due to their proximity to the deceased before they passed.
A person’s grandparents, aunts, and uncles may also be regarded as the next of kin because they are the closest living relatives.
What are the Responsibilities of the Next of Kin?
When someone dies, their Will names an executor to manage their estate. The next of kin is in charge of getting a letter of administration and handling a person’s affairs if they pass away without leaving a will.
The next of kin must file for a Letter of Administration if there is no will and they are in charge. A court decree known as a letter of administration enables the heirs to divide and distribute the decedent’s property.
The next of kin may be in charge of the following letter of administration in addition to handling the estate administration:
- Making arrangements for a funeral;
- Announcing the deceased’s passing to friends and family;
- Recording the deceased person’s death;
- Choosing medical treatments
- Maintaining the individual’s financial affairs;
- Distributing recipients from the deceased’s estate and administering their estate.
You might receive some of your departed relative’s digital possessions and liabilities as their next of kin. For instance, Microsoft sends a DVD with the deceased subscriber’s Outlook account to the subscriber’s next of kin so they can take over paying bills, inform contacts in the business world, and close the account and tasks.
Jurisdiction Over Next of Kin
Each country has its own rules for identifying next of kin and inheritance. Inheritance-related issues get addressed following specific succession laws. Other nations have next-of-kin legislation in place to handle the distribution of intestate decendents’ inheritance.
State laws and legislative action operate to grant relatives the ability to inherit or receive property via inheritance. Next-of-kin connections and inheritance priorities are determined by state law.
A state’s legislature possesses plenary power, or total control, over how property gets distributed inside its boundaries. The deceased person’s estate is given to the state if no heir can get located.
What happens if a person passes away in one state but has assets in another? The law of the state where the decedent resided generally prevails over other state laws about personal property.
Why is it Important to Determine the Next of Kin?
When a person passes away without leaving a Will, and there are no surviving relatives, such as a spouse or children, determining the next-of-kin relationship is crucial since it governs inheritance rights.
The next-of-kin may also be in charge of making choices regarding the person’s health, arranging a funeral, and managing their finances both during and after their death.
Get in Touch With Expert Consultants: Probate Consultants
The importance of next of kin in estate planning stems from the fact that they receive preference over all other heirs, typically in the absence of a will. Distinct jurisdictions within a country and occasionally varied countries have different inheritance rights.
We hope this guide will help you but if you need more assistance, get in touch with our professionals – Probate Consultants, who will explain all the details if you need to know about next of kin meaning.
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