Next of kin is one of those legal jargons that you hear every so often, but probably aren’t totally certain of what exactly it means. In the UK, there is no specific law that determines who your next of kin is but the dictionary definition is “one or more persons in the nearest degree of relationship to another person.” 📚
There aren’t many times in life when you will be asked to name your next of kin, but one of those times may be if you become seriously ill in the hospital. In the event of your death, it would be your next of kin who is notified first, so it may be a good idea to discuss your wishes regarding who to appoint as your next of kin so that there are no disputes between your loved ones during these potentially upsetting times.
Despite there being no law that defines which relative should be named as next of kin, there is a general consensus that a spouse or civil partner would be top of the list. Children would be next on the list, unless they are under the age of 18, followed by parents and then siblings.
If you are separated from your spouse, but not yet divorced, then they may still be contacted first in case of emergency. Similarly, if you are living with your partner but not married to them, then it would be unlikely that they would be considered your next of kin, unless you specifically state this in your will or in an emergency situation. Another important reason to get a will and get your non-legal relationships written down.
You may be asked to name your next of kin at the hospital, if you are well enough to do so. This could be literally anyone you choose, from your partner, to a close friend or even a neighbour. If you are unable to name your own next of kin, the hospital would contact your closest living relative that they are able to at the time. This means that person would be kept in the loop about your treatment and notified in the event of your death.
They would also be consulted on your wishes regarding organ donorship and about a post-mortem if necessary. The NHS has a free card available to download which you can fill in and carry around with you, so that if anything was to happen to you there would be a document that first responders could refer to.
If you die without a will, anyone can plan your funeral. There’s nothing that says your spouse or child must plan your funeral but you may want to consider writing a will so that your loved ones know exactly what your wishes are and who you would want to take the lead in making arrangements.
The person named as the executor of your estate would be left to make plans and settle the bill, so if you think there could be disputes over this in the event of your death, it’s probably a good idea to sit down and write a will which could avoid such difficulties during an already sensitive time.
Writing a will
If you have any worries about who would act as your next of kin in any of these scenarios, it’s most definitely worth writing a will to take away the uncertainty. Did you know that you can write your will online at Bequest for free? In the time it takes to wait in line for a coffee, you could have written your will and printed it off for safekeeping. Check out our article about writing it online for more information about this. If you pass away without a will, there are so many things that can go wrong. You don’t want that, so protect your family!
Although writing a will is vital to ensuring that your wishes are met after your death, it’s just as important to make sure you have thought about and informed the person you wish to name as your next of kin, executor/s and even children’s guardians . That’s because it’s during your time of need that you may need to rely upon them and it’s a good idea to make sure that they are aware of your decisions, especially if it’s not your closest living relative.
At Bequest, we just want to make sure you and your loved ones are protected during life’s most trying times. There’s no better way to make sure of that than by writing a will and taking out a life insurance policy, so that if the worst was to happen your wishes are met and loved ones are taken care of. 💛