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Who is next of kin when a cousin dies and they have no siblings!

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tgm1974 | 12:39 Wed 19th May 2010 | Civil
17 Answers
My Mum has just recd news that her cousin has passed away. He owns his own property and has lots of debts that need dealing with.

Her cousin was not married and had no children - his only sister has also died and had no children.

He is her cousin via her Mums sister having a son .... and there are no other siblings about and we have discovered his father (who is dead) did come from London and as far as we know there is noone relatives, addresses or contact numbers for anyone that side of the family.

Would my Mum be classed as next of kin in this situation as the house needs to be sold and debts paid - is it basically going to a solicitor to start proceedings???


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I always get confused with cousin relationships.....

The answer is that if your Mum and the cousin are descended from the same great grandparents, then yes, she is entitled to administer the estate.

If not, the estate would go to the Crown if there were no other close enough relatives.

It's possible to DIY - but if you don't have much idea of what you are doing then yes a solicitor is the first step.
If there was absolutely no-one else I suppose that your mum would be expected to do the right thing and see that his estate is properly disposed of, including his debts. Usually an advert is placed in a local daily newspaper to ask for next of kin to come forward. A solicitor would deal with all that, any left over from his estate would go to the next of kin, on the other hand I worry that if there are any debts left over that the next of kin would have to pay them off. I am not an expert in this matter, a solicitor would advise you.
The next of kin NEVER has to pay debts off, unless he or she has signed an agreement that he or she will do so when the original contract was signed.
From the sale of the house I think they mean...
The next of kin has to pay any debts off where they have joint responsibilities for the debt e.g husband and wife with joint mortgage or similar situations. You cannot inherit debts other than this. Your Mum would not have to take on any duties that she didn't want to with regards tohis estate. If there is a will there will be a named executor who will have the responsibility of paying off any debts before any proceeds can be distributed.
The sale of the house accounts the same as for any other monies. Your Mum might well inherit after the debts have been cleared, depending on whether there is a will or he died intestate.
If he died intestate then, although any estate after debts will go to the crown - they will advertise for next of kin and anybody that feels they might be due to inherit will have to inform them. Their are Heir Hunting companies that get lists sent to them of unclaimed estates and will chase around for next of kin.
I would imagine the heir hunting companies don't come cheap.
Question Author
Thanks everyone ... my Mum thinks her Uncle will raise his ugly head who hasnt been intouch for years and last time they spoke he dwindle her aunt out of her money then her estate after she died. She is therefore being a little protective and doesnt want the vultures at the door.
Probably not Gran. But if there is a large amount of money involved and you had no idea you were entitled to it you wouldn't mind paying out their commission!!
A 'finders fee' of about 10% is usual (although this can rise).

However, it is possible to complete the forms to apply to the Treasury as a beneficiary.
Oh yes, you don't have to wait for an heir hunter to find you, as JTH says you can apply. And apparently although unclaimed money goes to the Government there is no time limit to when you can claim it back!!

Unfortunately, no heir hunters have ever approached me :o(

This is the website that ought to be able to help (in addition to telling you whether you have just had an unknown wealthy maiden aunt die, in Patagonia............and you are her sole heir:o))

The 'heir hunters' will take a lot of the time and a strain (but also a significant proportion of the estate !)...
The heir hunting companies get their list from the Probate Office and that list is available online for all to access.

To get on the list someone has to have informed the Probate Office in the first place.

If the uncle exists he will may have a greater claim. And your mother will have to prove (as far as possible) that he doesn't in order to make any claim. So burying her head in the sand will do no good.

Anyway back to the original question and to phrase the answer in a different way - first cousins can inherit under intestacy rules, second cousins can't.
and jackthehat has just found that list.....
Does anyone know if there is a will and what that says?

It could be he has already made provision for what is to happen and who is to deal with matters upon his death.
Question Author
My Mum has been to a solicitor and she is entitled to a 9th of his estate depending on what is left .... seems the UNCLE (the money grabber who appears when people are dead) gets a 3rd .... then there are 2 other cousins who get a 3rd between the two of them and then onto my Mum!!

Shame she is left to clear up the mess of it all and someone else gets the greater benefit - not meaning to sound like a money grabber in the slightest but noone else bothered with him yet they gain so much from not being there!!

Thanks for all your replies!

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