The leaflet describes what a next of kin is, the responsibilities one has, and the process of selecting one. For some people who to choose will be obvious, for others it may be a more difficult decision. Trinity is here to help if you have any questions.

You can also download this information in our Next of kin leaflet

Who can or can’t be my next of kin?

There are no rules or legal definitions about who can or can’t be your next of kin while you are living. You can nominate your spouse, a partner, a family member or a good friend. For some people, who to choose will be obvious, for others it may be a more difficult decision.

Why does Trinity want to know about my next of kin?

We need to know who you would like us to keep informed about your care and get in touch with if there is an emergency. You may also wish to provide us with contact details for other people that you would like us to keep informed, such as children and close friends. We are happy to meet and support whoever you give us permission to contact. We will not divulge medical or personal information to anyone without your consent.

We suggest that you inform the person you wish to nominate as your next of kin and explain the responsibilities they might be expected to take on.

Does a next of kin have legal rights and responsibilities?

No. The term next of kin is in common use but a next of kin has no legal powers, rights or responsibilities. In particular, your next of kin
cannot give consent for providing or withholding any treatment or care.

Does a next of kin have legal rights and responsibilities in the event of my death?

No. If you have made a will, your executor(s) will be responsible for arranging your affairs according to your wishes. Your executor may
appoint another person to act on their behalf. If you have not made a will, the law sets out who has the right to deal with your affairs after you have died and who can inherit according to their legal or blood relationship to you.

Your spouse or civil partner comes first, and then the closest degrees of blood (or adoptive) relative in this order: children, parents, brothers and sisters, and so on (visit for more details about the rules of intestacy).

The law gives these groups of people priority over common law partnerships or long-term friendships. Your named next of kin will not have the right to deal with your affairs after you have died unless they have the relevant legal or blood relationship to you or you write a will appointing them as an executor. For further help or advice in relation to any of these matters please speak to your nurse, who will be able to refer you to Trinity's Welfare Benefits Officer.

Is next of kin the same as having power of attorney?

No. Getting power of attorney is a legal process where someone can be appointed to act on the patient’s behalf to make decisions about their care and/or finances. Decisions about providing or withholding treatment or care are usually made by the patient. If the patient is no longer able to do this for themselves, treatment and care decisions are legally left in the hands of the relevant professional (doctor, nurse, social worker) acting in the patient’s best interests, unless someone has been given power of attorney for welfare matters.

For information about setting up power of attorney visit, or look at the information about Lasting Power of Attorney on this website. The next of kin is not given any legal right or responsibility to make decisions on behalf of a patient who cannot do so for themselves. If you would like to know more about this, please ask your nurse to refer you to Trinity’s Welfare Benefits Officer who will be able to advise you on what legal help you might need.

What are the responsibilities of my next of kin after my death?

When someone dies at the hospice, the hospice will hand over any property or valuables to the next of kin. The next of kin will normally be the person who registers a death and organises the funeral. The next of kin may of course ask family members or friends to help. If your next of kin (and/or the executor named in your will) decides they do not wish to take on the responsibilities, Trinity will inform Lambeth Council who will review the person’s estate and make appropriate arrangements.

Can my next of kin register my death?

It is normally expected that a relative, spouse or partner will receive the death certificate and register a person’s death, so if your next of kin is a relative, spouse or partner it might be natural for them to do this. However, a non-related next of kin would not normally register the death unless you had no relative able to do so.

Where can I go for further advice and support?

If you have any questions about appointing a next of kin, making a will or managing your affairs, our Patient and Family Support team will be pleased to help you and provide contact details of local solicitors should you need. To get in touch, please call 020 7787 1000.

Download the next of kin leaflet

We can send hard copies of this leaflet to healthcare professionals and other local partners for free. Click here to place your order.