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Legal Dictionary

next of kin

Legal Definition of next of kin

Noun

  1. The nearest blood relative of a deceased. The expression has come to describe those persons most related to a dead person and therefore set to inherit the deceased's property.

Related terms


Definition of next of kin

Noun

next of kin (uncountable)

  1. Closest blood relative, heir to inheritance.

    Lord Bentley has passed away; notify the next of kin.
    Shall we inform the next of kin of his passing?

Further reading

Next of kin is a term with many interpretations depending on the jurisdiction being referred to. In some jurisdictions, such as the United States, it is used to describe a person's closest living blood relative or relatives. In others, next of kin may have no legal definition and may not necessarily refer to blood relatives at all, as in the United Kingdom.

In some legal systems, rights regarding inheritance serve a decision making capacity (for example, in a medical emergency) where no clear will or instructions have been given, and the person has no spouse, flow to their closest relative (regardless of the age with a representative appointed if a minor), usually a child, a parent or a sibling. However, there are people without any close adult relatives and, in such a case, decision making power often flows to a nephew, first cousin, aunt, uncle, or grandparent.

For example, if a person dies intestate, the laws of some jurisdictions require the estate to be distributed to the person's spouse and/or children. However, if there are none of these, the estate can often be distributed to the next closest group of living relatives, whether they be parents, grandparents, First cousins, aunts & uncles, or second cousins in extreme cases. If a person dies intestate with no identifiable next of kin, the person's estate generally escheats (i.e., legally reverts) to the government.

The opposite term is a stranger in blood.

References:

  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.



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