postheadericon How to Determine Next of Kin

Two Methods:Determining Next of Kin in the U.S.Determining Next of Kin in the U.K.Community Q&A

In the United States, your “next of kin” are the people who will inherit your estate if you die without a will. If you die without a will, you are considered to have died “intestate.” Typically, your spouse and children will serve as your next of kin. If you have no spouse or children, then your parents and siblings often qualify as next of kin, though this will differ depending on the state. In the United Kingdom, the term “next of kin” has a different meaning. Your next of kin is simply the person listed as your emergency contact.

Method 1 Determining Next of Kin in the U.S. 1 Find your state’s statute. In the United States, a person’s “next of kin” is determined by state statute. Typically, you will want to know this information if someone dies without making a will. The person’s next of kin then inherit any estate property. To find your state’s statute, you can visit a local law library and ask the librarian for the statute on “intestacy.” This is the term for what happens when a person dies without a will. You can also search on the Internet. Type “your state” and “intestacy statute” in your favorite web browser. 2 Distinguish between common law and community property states. Most states are considered to be common law property states, which means each asset belongs to the spouse who acquired it. Illinois is one example of a common law property state. However, some states (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin) are considered to be community property states, which means all assets acquired during a marriage are owned by both spouses.[1] If you live in a community property state, all community property will be inherited by the spouse. Separate property will then be split according to your state’s statute. In general, the spouse will also inherit 1/3 to 1/2 of the separate property. However, if there is no spouse, children, parents, and siblings will inherit everything.[2] 3 Read the statute. Once you have the statute, you should read it to find out the next of kin rules in your state. Illinois, for example, has a typical order of “next of kin.”[3][4] Spouse and descendants. If there is a surviving spouse, then he or she will take 50% of the estate and your “descendants” will divide the other 50%. “Descendants” are children (whether adopted or biological) or the children of your children (i.e., grandchildren). Step-children are not next of kin unless adopted. Grandchildren are descendants only if their parent (the deceased’s child) is also deceased. If there is no spouse, then the descendants take 100%. Likewise, if there are no descendants, the spouse takes the entire (100%) of the estate. Parents and siblings. They are next of kin only if there is no spouse or descendants. In most states, parents will inherit before siblings (e.g., New York).[5] “Siblings” also includes descendants of siblings, i.e., a niece or nephew of the deceased. However, the niece or nephew qualifies as next of kin only if their parent has died. As an example: suppose Allen dies and has no spouse or children. He has two sisters, Becky and Christy. As siblings, they are his next of kin. However, Christy might have died before Allen. In this situation, her son, Donald, qualifies as “next of kin” along with his aunt, Becky. Grandparents. Grandparents are descendants only if there are no parents and siblings still alive. 4 Create a family tree. Once you have read the statute, you should make a family tree. Put the deceased’s name at the top of the tree. Then draw lines down to each child. Then draw a line down below each child. List the children each child has had. If someone is deceased, then note that. Things are somewhat complicated if the deceased had a child which was adopted by someone else. If the adoptive parent was a relative or step-parent, then the child may still qualify under state law as a descendant. However, if the child was adopted by a stranger, then he or she is no longer a descendant of the deceased.[6] As you create the tree, you can see who qualifies as “next of kin.” If the deceased’s children are all dead, then look to see if grandchildren are alive. They will then be “next of kin.” If there are no grandchildren or great-grandchildren, then you look to parents and siblings as next of kin. 5 Ask a lawyer questions. Things can get complicated when someone dies at a very old age. Often, some of their children have predeceased them. You might have a hard time figuring out who qualifies as next of kin. If you have questions, you should contact an estate attorney, who can advise you about who qualifies as next of kin. To find a lawyer, you can visit your state’s bar association, which should have a referral service. Method 2 Determining Next of Kin in the U.K. 1 Look at a person’s emergency contact information. “Next of kin” has no standard legal definition in the United Kingdom. Instead, it simply means the person someone would like contacted in case of an emergency.[7] To find someone’s next of kin, get their emergency contact information. People usually fill out this information when they attend a school, rent an apartment, or enter a hospital. Look to see if there is place on the form for an emergency contact. This person will be the “next of kin.” If nothing is listed, then you will need to ask the person’s family members if they know who is the next of kin. 2 Read the Mental Health Act. Although “next of kin” has no standard meaning, the 2007 Mental Health Act amendments created a “nearest relative” list. This is like a next of kin hierarchy. The list is used by mental health professionals to find the nearest relative to consult about a patient’s treatment. The list reads as follows:[8] spouse child parent sibling grandparent grandchild aunt or uncle nephew or niece 3 Prevent confusion. Some people might be worried about what would happen if they are in an accident and their domestic partner tries to visit them in the hospital. Unless this person is listed as your next of kin on any emergency contact card, then there could be confusion about whether the person can visit you or play any role in determining your treatment.[9] To clear up any confusion, you can use a next of kin card. On this card, you write your name and then identify your next of kin. Carry this card with you in your wallet or purse. Visit to download a card. Realize that you can nominate anyone as your next of kin. This person can be a family member, partner, or a non-relative.[10] 4 Tell others. Once you have chosen a next of kin, then you should tell other people, including family and friends. They should all know who you want making decisions for you in the case of a medical or other emergency.[11] If you are trying to find a next-of-kin for someone else, ask others who might have access to that information. Try asking family, friends, doctors, and other people close to the person.

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