Understanding the Term “Next of Kin”

Understanding the Term “Next of Kin”

The term “next of kin” means a person’s closest living blood relative. The term “next of kin” is synonymous with “heirs at law.” This definition is important in determining inheritance rights if a person dies intestate, which means without a will.

In most cases, the next-of-kin will be a spouse or child. But if no spouse or child exists, next of kin could be a parent, sibling or even more distant relative. The next of kin would then be the person to inherit the estate.

State law and next of kin

In the United States, a relative’s right to receive property is based on state law, which establishes inheritance priorities under the laws of intestate succession. Each state’s legislature has the authority over how property will be distributed within its borders when there is no will to be found.

If the state is unable to determine any heir or next of kin, the property of the deceased will become state property.

If a person dies in one state but owns assets (other than real estate) in another, the laws of the state where the deceased primarily resided will control the probate administration. This means that if a person died in Florida as a primary resident of the state but also had property (other than real estate) in Georgia, the laws of Florida would be followed for how property would be passed to potential heirs.  As to real property, the opposite is true.  Inheritance of real estate is controlled by the laws of the state where the real estate is located.

For more information about the definition of “next of kin” and how Florida deals with succession and property distribution when there is no will, contact an experienced Tampa estate planning attorney at BaumannKangas Estate Law with any questions you have for our legal team.