Next Of Kin

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housewife47 | 17:33 Tue 08th Jan 2013 | Law
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Hi wondered if any one knew what the law states regarding who is next of kin when someone dies.

My mother died recently and while she was ill over the last few years she made my oldest sister her sole next of kin with the total exclusion of her other children( and the rest of the family ) - there are 3 of us with myself being the youngest.
Our Father died 9 years ago.
We never had an explanation why she only made one of us her spokesperson and the problem arose as my middle sister and myself hadn't spoken to our oldest sister for many years previous - we were only ever allowed to know how Mum was through my sister - it was never going to work especially on the rare occasions when we did get to speak to medical staff and we found out that some of the information our sister told us was false. Mum would always defer us back to our sister and wouldn't discuss anything with us,, our relationship with her consequently broke down.
My sister seemed to deliberately obstruct any relationship we did try to have with our mother during this time , we never knew how much of this was my mums wish or my sisters.
It was a horrendous situation as we couldn't find out anything and the medical staff weren't allowed to tell us anything either.
When Mum died we were informed via a text message !

Because of all this I would like to see my Mums medical records to find out what she actually died from but Ive been told I have to get the next of kins consent unfortunately!
But, although my sister is the recorded next of kin on the hospitals system there is nothing written to confirm this in my mothers medical notes or anything to say that myself or other sister cant be told anything. ( have spoken to medical records manager)
So does anyone know if my oldest sister still has any legal rights to say who can view the medical notes ?
After someone dies are we not all next of kin and am I right in thinking there is no such thing in law ?
Sorry this is so longwinded but would be really grateful if anyone can answer this !
Many thanks !!


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You can get a free thirty minute session with a solicitor might be worth your while.
Question Author
Hi thanks do you know of a good one to recomend -?
We have spoken to a couple of solicitors and they all want ridiculous amounts of money just to answer a few questions for us !
So sorry to read all that, if the basic cause of dath is what you require - then a copy of the death certificate will be useful. For anything more in depth, then seek some advice as mentioned above.
*sp Death
You could try the Citizens Advice Buereau (sp), they are usually very good and have branches everywhere.

Sorry for your loss, and the horrible family situation.
The internet or phone directory will list local solicitors who specialize in family affairs some may advertise free initial sessions if not ring and ask they can only say no. Your position is not uncommon and I can sympathize with your problem.
It might be you eventually need a solicitor depending on what estate your mother has left. I know its ugly but what isn't.
Question Author
Thanks guys ....have applied for death certificate but we would like to know more - we know she had cancer but dont know where or what type Also want to know more in case there are any potential health implications for us in case Mum had any inherited conditions we didnt know about .

Good idea to talk to Citizens Advise - thanks !
Thanks for the kind words too :) The effect this had had on all of us has been enourmous and all so unnecessary - whats that saying you can pick your friends but not your family !!
Hae you spoken to the Pals service at the hospital? (patient advice and liaison) They may be able to help you sort this out.
Question Author
Hadnt thought about Pals - good idea thanks !
PALS will certainly be able to help, though hospitals tend to maintain patient confidentiality for deceased patients as if they were still alive the data protection act does not actually apply any longer so they have quite bit of discretion. If you explain to pals that you need the info to understand / come to terms with the death and best make an assessment of your own risks of developing cancer I feel sure they would provide the requested info (probably not the full medical record but enough go respond to you questions). They way apply a charge of between 10 and 50 pounds (low rate for electronic info, higher charge for paper records, xrays etc)
"Next of Kin" has no legal definition.

Death certificates are public documents and the local Registrar will provide you with a copy of your mother's certificate for a small fee. It will show the cause of death.

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