What is the legal definition & order for ‘next of kin’

In Australia, the term ‘next of kin’ means a person’s spouse, de facto partner, or their closest living relative above 18 years old.

When a person dies, their affairs need to be finalised. Typically, this starts with notifying family and friends of their passing, making funeral arrangements, and ends with the administration of their assets and finalising financial affairs.

Unless there’s another emergency contact listed, a person’s next of kin is the first person notified in these circumstances. When a loved one dies, in most cases a next of kin is responsible for making legal decisions, organising the funeral, and managing their estate (an estate is all the money and property that the deceased owns upon their death).

Where there is a Will, the executors are responsible for administering the deceased’s estate. If there is no valid Will, the next of kin may carry out these responsibilities.

How to determine Next of Kin

The legal order of priority used to identify the next of kin is as follows:

– Spouse or domestic partner (same sex couples included)
– Adult children
– Parents
– Adult siblings (the eldest sibling takes priority)
– Any person who was a representative for the deceased immediately before the death

Are you a next of kin and need assistance with what’s required and the steps involved to celebrate and say farewell to your loved one? Contact one of our experienced funeral planners at Living Hope Funerals today.

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