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Last Modified: December 28, 2022

Next of Kin

“Next of kin” is defined by USLegal as either “the nearest blood relatives of a person who has died, including the surviving spouse” or “anyone who would inherit part of the estate by the laws of descent and distribution if there is no will.”  In other words, when someone says they need to notify the “next of kin” when someone has passed, they are merely looking for the closest relative that can handle the matter.

Example Sentence

“Next of kin” is a fluid title that may be influenced by marriage, divorce, reproduction, and estrangement.

Case Study

Boromir is the victim of an occupational fatal accident.  Boromir’s family struggled to dispense with his estate, since he did not make out a will before he passed, and they must follow the laws of descent and distribution to determine who is the next of kin.  Ordinarily, his nearest next of kin would be his spouse; but Boromir never married.  From there, his children would be the next to inherit; but Boromir had no children, either.  Finally, Boromir’s father is next in line to manage the funeral and distribute Boromir’s assets.  Boromir’s father is mentally indisposed.  Thus, it is his brother, Faramir, who ends up handling Boromir’s affairs.

Other Important Information

The next of kin is the automatic dispositioner if the dispositioner has not been specified in a will or written instrument. The next of kin may be privy to a person’s tax returns and medical information (if the person is deceased). When a person dies/their death is investigated, the next of kin are entitled to all documents involving the death and its investigation. Not surprisingly, the next of kin may not recover for damages inflicted by themselves. The next of kin is consulted for/notified of temporary emergency commitment, organ transplantation and donation, and medical procedures like shock treatment, lobotomy, and surgery.