Are You the Next of Kin?
If the deceased has not expressed his or her wishes and designated an agent through a written document such as a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care or a Last Will and Testament, then the chain of command, formally called the Order of Precedence, used to identify the legal next-of-kin is normally as follows:
Legal Spouse / Partner
Surviving Adult Child / Children
Surviving Adult Sibling
Parent of Minor Child
The person designated as the next-of-kin must be present to make decisions and sign documents. If you are unclear as to who is designated as the responsible person, call us.
The Critical Importance of Designating a Representative
If your loved one has yet to specify who they wish to be in control of their arrangements, and they are clear-headed enough to do so, do your best to convince them that this is the perfect time to take care of that task. This is especially important if there are no living relatives, they think their family members will not respect their wishes, or if they are on bad terms with anyone.
You can also suggest that they appoint a specific person who is not the next-of-kin but is deeply trusted to make the arrangements. This can be a good way to ensure that their final wishes are carried out.
They can designate their choice by completing an Advance Health Care Directive or the easy-to-read 5 Wishes guide from Aging with Dignity. Should you have questions about doing so, call us or speak with your family attorney.