What is Next of Kin?
Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®
Updated on June 21, 2021
Next of Kin Definition
A person’s “Next of Kin“is their closest living blood relative.
The purpose of determining a person’s next of kin is to figure out the appropriate and legal line of inheritance for their estate.
In some cases, the next of kin may also have certain responsibilities during or right after their relative’s life.
For example, they may need to make medical decisions or prepare funeral arrangements.
How to Determine Next of Kin
Generally speaking, legally determining a person’s next of kin is not as important if the deceased leaves behind a will or if they have a living spouse.
In the case that the deceased has a will, it becomes the primary legal outline mandating the distribution of their estate.
If the deceased has a living spouse but no will, then by law in most US states, the estate is inherited in full by the spouse.
Next of Kin Example
In lieu of a will or a living spouse, the line of inheritance starts with the offspring of the deceased, moving from their children to their grandchildren and so on.
In the absence of any offspring, the line of inheritance moves upward to the parents of the deceased.
If their parents are not capable of receiving the inheritance, then so-called collateral heirs, meaning siblings, nieces, and nephews, have the right to the deceased’s estate.