There is no legal definition of what a next of kin is in Britain. Hence we generally believe what people say which is not always accurate. Moreover, being a next of kin does not guarantee your right to manage your late partner’s estate. If this sounds confusing as it does to most please read on.
The Legal Rights of a Next of Kin in Britain
There’s only one automatic case. Children under eighteen need their next of kin to make decisions on their behalf. This is usually their closest blood relative, typically a parent or a sister or brother.
However, this situation changes after they turn eighteen and legally marry. Their next of kin becomes their spouse unless they choose someone else. This could be a blood relative, a friend or anyone they choose. If you believe you are the next of kin of someone, the next question is on what basis?
However and here’s the next stage of the mystery, a next of kin is only the person chosen as the point of contact for emergency services. If you want additional, legally affordable rights you must follow a legal process to achieve your goal.
How to Obtain Legal Rights as Next of Kin
Let’s assume for a moment your parent, partner, spouse, best friend, whoever is reaching the stage in their life where they can’t make their own decisions or manage their affairs. If that’s the case then you need to apply for a lasting power of attorney. There are two types of these LPA’s
# A legal power of attorney to manage their property and financial affairs
# A legal power of attorney to manage their health and welfare in their interests
The process is quite straightforward although an attorney may prove a handy help. If you are considering granting an LPA you should choose the person you believe is most capable of following your wishes.
However, the beneficiary may be unable or unwilling to make the application because of diminished responsibility. In this case, you may ask a court to make you deputy over their property and financial affairs, health and welfare or both.
The Role of a Next of Kin in an Intestate Situation
Let’s assume for the moment you are the next of kin of someone, and they died without leaving a will. You want to be able to manage their day-to-day finances but you have no legal right.
Your workaround is to ask the probate court for letters of administration as the executor of their estate. You will then be able to manage their back account and take control of their daily affairs.
You will also be able to distribute their assets in terms of the laws of succession, after settling their debts and tax obligations. If you were their married spouse you could inherit at least part of the estate. However, if you were not married you might not get anything at all.