Who, or What, is the Next of Kin?

A doctor talking to a hospital patient's next of kin

After the passing of a loved one, much of his or her affairs still need to be settled. With a death without a will, many of those responsibilities will fall onto the next of kin. The phrase “next of kin” generally refers to the closest living blood relative, however, the term has a different and important legal meaning.

When somebody creates a will, that means they are the one that decides who will be the beneficiaries of their estate. If you do not have a will when you die, then your wishes might not be carried out. That is called dying intestate. In these cases, the law will determine the next of kin, who will then be designated the beneficiary of the estate.

According to Michigan law, only assets that would have passed through you will are affected by intestate succession laws. That typically includes assets that you own in your name. Some assets are not affected by intestate laws, though, such as life insurance proceeds, retirement accounts, or property you have transferred in a living trust.

The Michigan Legislature has an order of succession that determines who the next of kin would be with a death with no will:

  • Any part of the estate that does not pass to the spouse, or if there is no surviving spouse, will then go to the descendants.
  • If there are no descendants, the parents of the deceased will equally split the estate.
  • If there are no descendants or surviving parents, then the estate will go to a sibling.
  • If there are no descendants, surviving parents, or surviving siblings, then the estate will be equally split amongst any surviving grandparents.
  • If there are no descendants, surviving parents, or surviving siblings, or surviving grandparents, the entire estate passes to a relative, either to the paternal grandparents’ side if applicable, or to the maternal grandparents side.

There are many scenarios, and the inheritance can differ in a lot of those situations. If there is any doubt or confusing throughout the process, then it is important that you consult a lawyer to help get all the affairs in order.

Your wishes to have either a cremation or a burial can be stated in a will, but the next of kin may override that decision behind Michigan Law.

Planning for death can be a difficult experience. To help lessen the burden on your friends and family, have a will and a plan for end of life. Simply Cremations & Funeral Care will help you along the pre-planning phases and more. Simply Cremation & Funeral Care focuses on personalizing our services to meet your needs in a dignified and efficient manner.Our mission is to offer excellence in our service while providing the compassion, sincerity & understanding needed by families we serve.