Next Of Kin

DEFINITION of 'Next Of Kin'

Next of kin refers to a person's closest living blood relative. The next-of-kin relationship is important in determining inheritance rights if a person dies without a will and has no spouse and/or children. The deceased's estate becomes state property if no legal heir can be identified. The next of kin can also be called upon to make medical decisions for a person who has become incapacitated or to make funeral/burial arrangements.

BREAKING DOWN 'Next Of Kin'

In addition to inheritance privileges, the ability to make medical decisions and funeral arrangements. the next-of-kin designation enables the person to carry out other responsibilities. For example, Microsoft provides the next of kin of a deceased subscriber with a DVD of the decedent’s entire Outlook account so the relative can assume paying bills, notify business contacts and close the account.

In countries such as the United Kingdom, matters involving inheritances are handled in accordance with various succession laws. In other countries, next-of-kin laws are in place for settling estates of people who die intestate. In the United States, state laws establish next-of-kin relationships and inheritance priorities. The right of a relative to inherit or receive the property by inheritance exists through the operation of laws and legislative action. The legislature of a state has plenary power, or complete authority, over distribution of property within the borders of the state. The state in which real property is located generally has precedence over the laws of other states. With personal property, the law of the state where the decedent resides generally supersedes the laws of other states.

Next-Of-Kin Priorities

A legally and properly executed will covering inheritable property usually takes precedence over next-of-kin inheritance rights. In the absence of a will, inheritance rights automatically pass to a surviving spouse in nearly all states. If the couple is divorced, postnuptial agreements should have terminated or altered these rights. The subsequent remarriage of a surviving spouse generally does not affect the inheritance rights of that spouse.

In the absence of a surviving spouse, next-of-kin priorities follow a line of descent consisting of the direct offspring of a subject, such as a parent, child, grandchild, great-grandchild and so on. The next of kin may also consist of collateral heirs such as brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews of the subject ancestor. The line of inheritance flows downward to offspring before upward to parents, and then collaterally to siblings. For example, inheritance rights normally pass to a decedent’s children and grandchildren before the decedent’s parents, and to the parents before proceeding collaterally to the decedent’s brothers, sisters and nieces and nephews. The legal status of stepchildren and children who are adopted varies by jurisdiction.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Inheritance Tax

    In some states in the U.S. (and in the United Kingdom), a tax ...
  2. Inheritance

    All or part of a person's estate/assets that is given to an heir ...
  3. Heir

    HeirA person who inherits some or all of the estate of another ...
  4. Laughing Heir

    A distant relative who has inheritance rights despite not having ...
  5. Estate

    A person's estate is everything comprising the net worth of an ...
  6. Decedent

    A person who is no longer living. Just as a taxpayer's possessions ...
Related Articles
  1. Financial Advisor

    An in Depth Look at How Inheritances Are Taxed

    The tax implications of an inheritance can be complex. Here's what beneficiaries need to know.
  2. Financial Advisor

    Tips for Retaining Your Client's Heirs

    It's a good idea to start working with your clients' children early on to forge relationships and hopefully continue to manage that wealth.
  3. Managing Wealth

    ‘I Just Inherited Money’ Now What?

    If you’re lucky enough to inherit money when you're young, here's how to hold on to it.
  4. Managing Wealth

    Avoid These 4 Common Causes of Family Estate Fights

    Sibling battles over their parents' belongings are quite common. But open family discussions before the parent dies can often prevent them.
  5. Financial Advisor

    Why the Wealthy Shy Away from Inheritance Talk

    A recent survey of high-net-worth individuals shows that many avoid talking inheritance with children. Here are some ways to balance the sensitive topic.
  6. Financial Advisor

    How Advisors Can Assist Clients with Inheritances

    Leaving an inheritance can be complicated and even a burden on the recipient. Here's how advisors can help.
  7. Financial Advisor

    Advice on Dealing with Unequal Inheritances

    When it comes to inheritances, the concept of equal versus equitable can be hard to navigate, even when all parties are reasonable.
  8. Managing Wealth

    Want Your Will to Prevail? Don't Die Intestate

    If you die without making a last will and testament, you are said to have died intestate. What happens to your assets in this case?
  9. Retirement

    Inherited IRA and 401(k) Rules: Don't Run Afoul

    What you need to know when it comes to the complex rules for inherited IRAs and 401(k)s.
  10. Financial Advisor

    How to Avoid the Inheritance Nobody Wants: Debt

    With the biggest transfer of wealth underway, advisors need to ensure that clients don't also inherit debt.
RELATED FAQS
  1. How is cost basis calculated on an inherited asset?

    Understand how the cost basis for stocks, property and other inherited assets is calculated, and the resulting tax implications ... Read Answer >>
  2. Can I utilize the 1035 exchange provision for an annuity I inherited?

  3. Do I need to pay taxes for two Roth IRAs I recently inherited?

    I have recently inherited my wife's Roth IRA, and I also inherited a Roth IRA from my deceased wife that she inherited ... Read Answer >>
  4. How do I determine capital gain or loss for stocks held in excess of 20 years?

  5. How does the IRS want me to report the RMDs I receive from a small non-spousal inherited ...

    Aside from my own 1040, do I need to file tax returns for the stretch IRA in the name of the decedent's trust for my ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. GBP

    The abbreviation for the British pound sterling, the official currency of the United Kingdom, the British Overseas Territories ...
  2. Diversification

    A risk management technique that mixes a wide variety of investments within a portfolio. The rationale behind this technique ...
  3. European Union - EU

    A group of European countries that participates in the world economy as one economic unit and operates under one official ...
  4. Sell-Off

    The rapid selling of securities, such as stocks, bonds and commodities. The increase in supply leads to a decline in the ...
  5. Brazil, Russia, India And China - BRIC

    An acronym for the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China combined. It has been speculated that by 2050 these four ...
  6. Brexit

    The Brexit, an abbreviation of "British exit" that mirrors the term Grexit, refers to the possibility of Britain's withdrawal ...
Trading Center