What is next of kin?
Next of kin usually means your closest living relative, like your spouse or civil partner. There is no law in the U.K. about who you can name as your next of kin, but if you’re taking part in a risky activity such as a skydive, you may be asked to name someone as your next of kin. In relation to children under 18, their next of kin is someone who has parental responsibility.
If you’re admitted to hospital in the UK, they’ll ask you to name someone as your next of kin. Most hospitals are quite relaxed about how they define next of kin, allowing you to choose anyone from your partner, to a parent, to your best friend. If however you are unconscious at the time you’re admitted to hospital, they will try and work out who your next of kin is such as the closest relative they can find.
When there has been a death, the next of kin is usually who the doctors, nurses or police officers usually notify first so that they can inform other family and friends.
Some confusion can arise where a patient in hospital is unable to respond and make their own decisions, the medical staff may accept some straightforward decisions from your next of kin, but this is where the patient should really have in place a Lasting Power of Attorney for health and welfare matters; the governing rules for LPAs comes from The Mental Capacity Act 2005.
Where there has been a death and there’s no Will in place, it will usually be the next of kin that applies for probate. If there’s a Will, it will be the Executors named in the Will. If you are the next of kin and in need help with probate, you could get in touch with us for help and advice.