Next of Kin Definition

Next of Kin

What Is Next of Kin (and Who Is It)?

Next of kin is often used to refer to a person’s nearest living relative (s). Individuals having a blood tie, such as children, or those with legal standing, such as spouses or adopted children, are considered next of kin. In inheritance issues, a person’s next of kin often take priority over others, particularly when a will isn’t established.

IMPORTANT TAKEAWAYS:

  • The term “next of kin” refers to a person’s blood or legal relatives who are the person’s nearest living relatives.
  • The technicalities of establishing next of kin and inheritance differ depending on jurisdiction.
  • A legally and fully written will covering inheritable property normally takes priority over someone’s next of kin’s inheritance rights.
  • In certain situations, someone’s digital assets and liabilities may be passed down to the next of kin.
  • Regardless of connections or will bequests, funds from insurance policies and retirement accounts are distributed to beneficiaries named in these agreements.
What Does the Term “Next of Kin” Mean?

Recognizing Next of Kin

As previously stated, next of kin refers to those who are related by blood, marriage, or another legal link, such as adoption. If there is no will, this connection helps determine who would inherit a share of a person’s estate under the rules of descent and distribution. In this case, the spouse is the next of kin.

For someone who dies without a will and without a spouse or children, inheritance rights are based on the next of kin connection. Surviving relatives may have obligations both during and after their relative’s death. For example, if the individual becomes incompetent, the next of kin may need to make medical choices for them, or assume responsibility for their burial preparations and financial affairs when their relative dies.

A legally and fully written will that includes inheritable property normally takes priority over next-of-kin inheritance rights. In virtually all jurisdictions, however, if the dead individual did not leave a will, their estate falls to the surviving spouse. If the couple divorces, postnuptial agreements may revoke or amend these rights. When a surviving spouse remarries, their inheritance rights are largely unaffected.

In the exclusion of a surviving spouse, the individual who is next of kin receives the inheritance. The line of descent starts with direct descendants, then their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on. The legal status of stepchildren and adoptive children differs by jurisdiction. If the deceased has no children, the line of descent passes upward to their parents. If the parents are no longer living, collateral heirs (brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews) take their place.

Remember: Identifying someone’s next of kin is also vital for law enforcement, medical professionals, and other authorities who need to notify someone about their death, health, or well-being.

What to Consider

You may inherit part of your relative’s digital assets and liabilities as next of kin. For example, Microsoft sends a DVD with a dead subscriber’s full Outlook account to the decedent’s next of kin so the relative may take over paying bills, notifying business contacts, closing the account, and so on.

Next of Kin Jurisdiction

The technicalities of establishing next of kin and inheritance differ depending on the jurisdiction. In some nations, such as the United Kingdom, inheritance issues are addressed in line with specific succession rules. Other nations have legislation in place to settle the estates of those who die intestate

The right of a relative to inherit or obtain property via inheritance exists in the United States as a result of state legislation and legislative action. Next of kin connections and inheritance priority are established by state law. A state’s legislature possesses plenary power, or entire control, over the allocation of property within its boundaries. If no legitimate heir is found, the deceased’s inheritance becomes state property.

What happens if a person dies in one state but has assets in another? When death comes to personal property, the law of the state where the deceased lives usually take precedence over the laws of other states.

Quick Note: If the individual who died (the “decedent”) left a will or is (or was) married, identifying a next of kin is less crucial, at least legally.

Plans for Insurance and Retirement

The beneficiary(ies) of a decedent’s life insurance policy or retirement funds, such as 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts (IRA), are specified differently from other bequeathable assets. Even if the dead selected other persons in a will, the proceeds from these instruments go to the beneficiaries indicated by the decedent on the policies or accounts themselves.

Unless the deceased was married and resided in a community property state, next-of-kin status is irrelevant. If this is the case, unless the spouse signed a waiver, the surviving spouse is entitled to an equal share of all money earned or acquired during the marriage. If both the spouse and the children are dead, and there are no live specified beneficiaries, the assets may pass to the deceased’s next of kin, depending on state law.

Individuals who inherit retirement plan assets are subject to additional requirements. However, such restrictions have since been updated as a result of the December 2019 enactment of the Setting Every Community Up For Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act.

Prior to the SECURE Act, non-spousal beneficiaries of an inherited IRA were obligated to begin required minimum distributions (RMDs) if the original account owner had begun taking their own RMDs prior to their death. If the account owner had not yet begun taking their own RMDs, the non-spousal beneficiary might wait until they reached the age to begin taking RMDs.

Prior to the SECURE Act, non-spousal beneficiaries who inherited an IRA may extend the advantages for the rest of their lives. The new regulation, however, requires IRA beneficiaries to pay out their inherited retirement account within 10 years. There are several exceptions, such as those who are chronically sick, incapacitated, or under the age of 18.

What Is The Importance of Identifying Next of Kin?

If a person dies without a will and has no spouse or children, the next-of-kin connection is crucial in deciding inheritance rights. They may also have obligations both during and after the death of a relative. For example, if the individual becomes incompetent, the next of kin may be required to make medical choices for them, or to handle their burial preparations and financial affairs when their relative dies.

How Is The Next of Kin Determined?

The technicalities of establishing next of kin and inheritance differ depending on the jurisdiction. In nations such as the United Kingdom, inheritance is managed according to distinct succession rules. Other nations have legislation in place to settle the estates of those who die intestate. The right of a relative to inherit or obtain property via inheritance exists in the United States as a result of state legislation and legislative action.

Will Life Insurance and IRA Benefits be Automatically Transferred to Next of Kin?

The beneficiary of a decedent’s life insurance profits or retirement funds, such as 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts, are specified differently from other bequeathable assets. Even if the dead selected other persons in a will, the proceeds from these instruments go to the beneficiaries indicated by the decedent on the policies or accounts themselves. Unless the deceased was married and resided in a community property state, next-of-kin status is irrelevant. If this is the case, unless the spouse signed a waiver, the surviving spouse is entitled to an equal share of all money earned or acquired during the marriage.

If you enjoyed reading this post please check out our new definitions:

4.9/5 - (1076 votes)

3 thoughts on “Next of Kin Definition”

  1. Thanks for every other informative website. Where else could I
    get that kind of information written in such a perfect method?

    I’ve a challenge that I am simply now working on, and I’ve been at the glance out for such info.

  2. This is a good tip particularly to those new to the
    blogosphere. Brief but very precise information…
    Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read post!

  3. It’s really very difficult in this full of activity life to listen news on TV, so I just
    use the web for that purpose, and get the most recent news.

    Take a look at my webpage; Crystle

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

nv-author-image

Dom Lucre