A next of kin describes a person’s closest blood relative or someone with a close relationship to a person (for example, a child or a spouse). There are some differences about who should be named next of kin across different states of Australia, and the discussion often arises amongst families that are experiencing the death of someone close to them.
Although the next of kin has no legal rights, they usually take on responsibilities such as registering the death and organising the funeral of the deceased person. The next of kin relationship is especially important when determining complex issues such as inheritance rights, if a person dies and has no will and/or no children.
Who should be named next of kin?
When someone dies without a will, their closest relative is usually referred to as the next of kin. Generally, this is the chosen order of who should be named next of kin:
- Their spouse or civil partner
- Their children; this includes legally adopted children, but usually doesn’t include step-children, unless stated otherwise
- Any person named as an executor in the will
- Any person who was the legal personal representative
What if there is no next of kin?
In the circumstance where a person dies in hospital and has no living relatives or close friends, and no assets, the responsibility falls on the hospital to arrange the funeral using governmental services.
If somebody dies at home and has no next of kin, a burial or cremation will be organised for the “deceased destitute person”. This is carried out by the relevant Director of Public Health, who will arrange the funeral through a government agency, once a doctor has issued a medical certificate containing the cause of death.
A person that does have sufficient assets, but no next of kin, will have their funeral arranged by the NSW Trustee and Guardian, using the person’s own assets.
What is a senior next of kin?
The “senior next of kin” is the person or family member of the person that has passed, who becomes the main point of contact for the Coroner and the primary person in charge of decisions. Establishing the senior next of kin is important, as it provides one singular person for the Coroner to be in touch with, rather than having to contact multiple members of the family.
The senior next of kin is chosen based on the numbered system we have listed above.
Contact Affordable Cremations for support
We understand that this can be a confusing and complicated time. If you’ve been named the senior next of kin for someone close to you that has recently passed, Affordable Cremations offers a personal service for no service, no attendance funerals in New South Wales. We’re available 24 hours a day, so call us anytime on 1300 95 95 35 for a conversation with a member of our team.