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Next of kin

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housewife47 | 14:23 Fri 22nd Jun 2012 | Law
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At 47yrs Im the youngest of 3 girls and a few years ago when my mother was ill she made my oldest sister sole next of kin for reasons only she knows. It meant the medical staff couldnt tell us anything and anything we wanted to know we had to ask our oldest sister, who seemed to have all the power in what she wanted us to know.
Unfortunately we all had a big falling out many years back and dont get on so this arrangement was never going to work well.

Can anyone tell me if me or my other sister has any legal rights in these circumstances? My mother now has a brain tumour , if my mothers mental state deteriorates can my sister be appointed with power of attorney without any other members of the family being consulted?
Is it just a case that if it is what my mother wishes we have to repect that and can do nothing about it?
Many thanks!

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yes....she can be appointed power of attorney and the oldest child is usually the next of kin or nearest relative if there are no surviving spouse/partner. it doesn't automatically mean that she can exclude the rest of you, though, from getting information on your mother's condition or contacting her. could you not ask the staff to ask your mother if she wants you to know about her condition and document this in her notes? i am a nurse and we specifically ask people who they wish to be told information about their care and prognosis - if she is not able to, then i would talk to the member of staff in charge of her care what their procedures are and take things from there. good luck x
If your mother has executed an Enduring Power of Attorney or a Lasting Power of Attorney in your sister's favour and your mother loses her capacity then your sister must apply for registration with the Public Trustee. However as part of that process she must notify you and your sister. There are grounds for objection but they are very limited statutory grounds.

If your mother has not appointed your sister by way of an EPA or an LPA and she loses capacity, any of you can apply to be Deputy (this is similar to an Attorney but is appointed by the Court). This has to be on notice to the others. If there is a significant dispute between the 3 of you, the Court will likely appoint someone independent.
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Thanks.
Sadly we have a very dysfunctional family and this has been going on for a long time.
My Mum has been discharged now and is at home.
When my mum made my sister next of kin it was to the exclusion of myself and other sister. Mum wouldnt discus her illness with us and for whatever reason we never have had an explanation why .It was clear from early on she must have told the medical staff that she didnt want us to know anything and anything we did ask had to go through my oldest sister. Think it must have been written in her notes not to give us any information. Said as my eldest sister is a nurse it would be better if she dealt with everything ( which would make sense) But I was also a nurse and knew what little info' we did get didnt make sense and as her daughter wanted to help her get the best care which we dont feel she has got.
Think that unless my mum changes her mind there isnt anything we can do to be more involved if she doesnt want us to be,
I was just wonderering what our legal status would be .
Thanks!
Question Author
Thank you 'Barmaid' ...thats very interesting what you have said .
We certainly have not been notified of any EPA or LPA in place so I think we should ask our mum who has power of attorney . I wonder if there is any way of finding out what is in place without having to ask , as Im sure if my sister could get away without informing us of any of this she would.
As there has been a break down in our relationship with our eldest sister and more recently with mum because of all this , an independant person brought in would be the sensible choice.
Thank you !
you will not know yet if there is an EPA or LPA in place. This is because it only has to be registered when your mum loses capacity. There is no central register. It is at registration that you have the right to object (albeit as I said on limited statutory grounds).
Nearest relative has a defined legal meaning in section 26 of the mental heath act 1983, which next of kin does not, the nearest relative would be, after your father whom I assume is deceased, your mother’s issue and the eldest takes priority. I would suggest to your mother that she makes a will whilst she still has capacity; if you are dependant upon your mother you would probably be able to make a claim on her estate if you were not named.
Question Author
Thanks guys ...your replies have been really helpful!
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