What You Should Know
- Your closest living blood relative is considered to be your next of kin
- Spouses are not considered to be next of kin
- Friends will not be considered next of kin
Preparing for the end phase of life is important and should be done thoughtfully — no matter how old you are.
If you plan to purchase affordable life insurance, your next of kin, at least the ones who are named beneficiaries, could be supported financially even when you pass on. Of course, there are some phrases you must have a clear understanding of before you decide to buy life insurance, like "next of kin" and "Will executor."
Typically, you will hear the phrase "next of kin" used when an individual has died without writing a Will. While different states have different procedures when it comes to this situation, one result of passing away without a Will will always remain the same: Your surviving loved ones could end up dealing with frustrating legalities and costly court fees.
If you've ever thought, "Do I need life insurance or a Will?" the answer is yes; you do if you want to protect your loved ones after you've gone.
If you want to be prepared in case the worst should happen, keep reading to learn how to find free life insurance quotes, understand "next of kin," and more.
Enter your ZIP code to get free life insurance quotes so you can provide for your next of kin even after you pass on.
Who is considered to be the next of kin?
You may be surprised to learn that when it comes to determining who is next of kin, spouses are generally excluded. Your next of kin is your closest living blood relative. Relatives who would fall under the umbrella of this term would be:
- Your children
- Your grandchildren
- Your nieces
- Your nephews
- Your siblings
- Your parents
- Your uncles related by blood
- Your aunts related by blood
This is why it is so important to be properly prepared for your passing. If, for example, you had bought life insurance when you were young and single and taken advantage of the cheap life insurance rates typically available, and next of kin was all you wrote down for the beneficiary, the death benefit would pass on to your next of kin if you forgot to update it.
This means that if you married someone later in life, they could be left without any financial support if you were to die unexpectedly. You should always review your life insurance policies whenever you undergo any kind of major life change.
Updating Your Life Insurance Policy
Whether you get married, divorced, or have experienced some other life change, you should update your life insurance policy. While many insurance companies allow you to make changes to your policy online, you can always call your insurance company's customer service line to adjust your policy so you can be sure that everything is being done properly.
While purchasing life insurance is an important step, you should also be sure to have a Will. Without one, even your next of kin will have to hire a lawyer to help settle your estate which can add an extra legal burden to a time of intense heartache.
Are there next of kin rights?
An individual who has been named your next kin doesn't gain any new "rights" per say, but they do have the ability to make decisions in a few specific situations. For example, if you suffered an accident and became incapacitated, unless your spouse had a power-of-attorney for you, your legal next of kin could make medical decisions on your behalf.
That same individual could also file for probate, which is the process of appointing an executor who will administer your estate. In addition to all that, the legally recognized next of kin could make your funeral arrangements.
Hopefully, this individual is aware of and respects your wishes; however, if you do not leave behind any instructions or a Will, this person can have any kind of ceremony performed on your behalf.
What is the next of kin order?
If you were to ask your life insurance company, "The next of kin order—what is it?" you probably wouldn't get a proper answer. When determining who is in line to be legally recognized as your next of kin, the order usually goes as follows:
- Aunts and uncles
If all of these individuals have passed away, more distant relations, like your cousins, could be named as your next of kin.
Can friends be recognized as next of kin?
Even if you love a friend like family, members of your chosen family will never be considered next of kin. In the eyes of the law, blood is thicker than water.
This being said, if you would like your friend to be the individual who inherits your estate when you pass or receives the death benefit of your life insurance policy, they certainly can be. You just need to do your part and have a Will written up that names them as the individual who will be charged with running your estate.
You will also need to have this friend be named as the beneficiary on your life insurance policy.
How should a Will be designed?
When you are designing your Will, you will need to decide what assets to include within it and who those assets should be given to. These assets could include:
- Your home
- Your vehicles
- Your bank accounts
- Your retirement accounts
- Your life insurance policies
- Your pets
It may seem strange to think of listing your pets as assets, but animals are considered property and so you should make a plan to be sure that they are well cared for after you die. Don't forget to list family heirlooms or personal items that you wouldn't like to see thrown away.
You will also need to choose an executor of your Will. This is a person who is in charge of reading your will and carrying out all of your final requests. Their other duties include distributing your property as well as paying your debts.
If you have young children, you will also need to name a guardian who will be able to care for them.
When you are satisfied with the contents of your Will, you'll need to sign it in front of two witnesses to make your Will legally binding. These witnesses cannot be beneficiaries named in your Will.
While preparing a Will isn't as easy as applying for life insurance, it is a necessary step that is advisable for everyone to take.
Next of Kin Explained
If you were to pass away and didn't leave behind a Will, your closest living blood relative would be named as your next of kin. This individual would be able to plan your funeral and run your estate; however, not leaving behind a Will makes this process all the more difficult and expensive for the aforementioned individual.
In order to help your surviving loved ones avoid future frustrations, make plans to meet with a reputable lawyer near you so you can plan your Will and make your passing easier on your loved ones. You should also update your life insurance policy whenever you experience any major changes in your life so you can be certain that the person you want to receive your policy's death benefit actually does.
Don't leave your loved ones to struggle financially when you've passed on.
Enter your ZIP code to get free quotes for life insurance policies that could support your spouse or next of kin when you die.