Who can be my next of kin?

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

What can a next of kin do?

Your next of kin cannot consent or refuse consent to treatment on your behalf but if you are unable to communicate they can let doctors know what decisions they believe you would make if you were able to.

A next of kin has no legal liabilities or rights to your medical notes or personal possessions. Nominating a next of kin does not affect who will inherit from you.

Why does the hospice 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 speak to. We will not divulge medical or personal information to anyone without your consent.

What are the responsibilities of my next of kin?

When someone dies at the hospice the next of kin is the person to whom the hospice will hand over any property or valuables. 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. 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.

What about my Will?

Everyone is encouraged to make a Will and keep it up-to-date. This need not be complicated or costly. A Will is not just for people with property, it is a helpful legal document that will let your relatives and friends know your wishes on your death.

Your Will appoints an executor to ensure that your wishes are carried out. Your executor and your next of kin can be the same person or different people. If they are different people bear in mind that, it will be the executor who takes control of your possessions and is empowered to arrange your funeral.

If you die without a Will, UK law decides who will inherit all that you own and this may not be the people you would have chosen. The set legal approach for distributing your estate in this event does not currently recognise unmarried partners or non-civil partnerships.