next of kin

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vanrijn2 | 15:01 Tue 23rd Dec 2008 | Law
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Who is my 'next of kin' for legal purposes.My 83yr old mother or my 26yr old son ?


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Who ever you like - it can be a friend or a solicitor, if you prefer.
I think there's a distinction here - your next of kin is not something you can make a choice about. In your case your next of kin is your son, with your mother coming second. This assumes you have no spouse and no other children.

In terms of financial decisions, however, is is open to you to grant a power of attorney to one or more people who are thereby empowered to act on your behalf in your absence.
for the purposes of "the mental health act" NoK come in this order:
Husband or Wife
Son or Daughter
Father or Mother
Brother or Sister
Uncle or Aunt
Nephew or Niece
However, apart from the mental health act there is no other legal definition of next of kin, and clearly the MHA just refers to mental health situations
For most practical purposes, you can name whoever you like as Nok and in law you can appoint people to act on your behalf in matters of personal welfare, or seperately for personal affairs, and this can be anyone you like. there arent many situations that you would need to nominate a NoK and common sense should prevail in most situation - ie if you were to die and your child was 11, you probably wouldn't expect an 11 year old to organise a funeral (although that is in fact misleaading cause there is no obligation on NoK to organise a funeral anyway!)
As Bednobs indicates, the term 'next of kin' has (with very few exceptions) little meaning in law. For most purposes you can nominate anyone you like as your next of kin. (It doesn't have to be a family member. It doesn't even have to be anyone you know. You can nominate Gordon Brown or Kylie Minogue as your next of kin if you like!).

Bednobs cites one of the few examples of a situation where the law does recognise a more formal definition of 'next of kin'. Additionally, if you were to die without leaving a will (i.e. intestate), the law defines a 'pecking order' of family members who can apply for 'letters of administration' (which empower them to distribute your estate in accordance with the intestacy rules). Assuming that you were to leave no spouse, your children would jointly top the 'pecking order'. (i.e. if the son you refer to is not your only child, but simply your oldest, he would not be higher up the list than his siblings. However, he would be higher than your mother).

Once again assuming that you died intestate (and left no spouse), your children would share your estate. (If you have just the one child, he would get everything; your mother would get nothing).

As Bednobs indicates, nobody is ever obliged to arrange a funeral. It would be up to your family members (and/or your friends) to choose who should make the arrangements. (Whoever was to make the arrangements could call upon your estate to pay for the funeral). If nobody agreed to arrange the funeral, your local council would be obliged to arrange a funeral. (They could reclaim the cost from your estate. However, if you left no money the council would have to foot the bill).

Following on from the last answer. If a person leaves no money, and the council has to arrange the funeral, then they take whatever they can find in the property which is saleable, in an attempt to recover the cost.
Next of Kin? It's a total travesty and should be abolished as soon as possible. Let me tell you what happened to my family.

My sister foolishly ignored a lump in one of her breasts and within a matter of months, developed all the symptoms of breast cancer. As a family we were unaware of her suffering as she had married a chap who was let us say, preferred to ignore much of what was going on around him.

Eventually she consulted her GP, who arranged for her to be seen by an oncologist urgently. She was diagnosed with breast cancer that day and began a prolonged course of chemotherapy.

The chemotherapy was ineffective as it was found that the cancer had spread to her lymph glands. She was given a matter of weeks to live. She was on morphine during her final weeks and my parents and I along with her husband and mother-in-law were at her bedside when she died. Seeing someone die of cancer whilst under the influence of morphine is not something I'd wish on my worst enemy.

Anyhow, her husband was a right "mammy's boy" and had been heavily influenced by his mother throughout the marriage. The husband and his mother both assured us that my sisters funeral would be carried out with the "dignity" it deserved.

Two days after my sisters death, my parents were contacted by the undertaker to see if they'd like a minister to attend the house. The undertaker told my parents that the funeral had been arranged on a date which turned out to be my mother's birthday. My parent's were horrified. I and my wife contacted the undertaker who was equally horrified by it all and agreed to change the date. However, the mother of my brother-in-law told the undertaker that she considered that she had "taken enough time off work as it was" and would not re-arrange the date. Besides, she considered that it would be "nice" for my mother to remember her daughters funeral on her own birthday.

The undertaker was powerless as my parents were no longer the next of kin. My sister was buried on my mother's birthday.

To this day, my mother does not celebrate her own birthday as she thinks of it only in terms of her daughters funeral.

the theory behind the next of kin is admirable, but when it allows relatives by marriage to interfere with matters such as this, it's downright disgusting. As the undertaker pointed out, my parents brought my sister into this world and knew her for over thirty years, only to have it all dashed by a woman related through marriage who had known her for just over a year,

Is that justice?
And before anyone asks, no, I can't suggest a good "catch-all" alternative to the present next of kin rules.

All the same, I can't help but feel that what happened to my family is not an isolated incident. No doubt there are many people up and down the country suffering from just as much anguish.

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