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Planning • 3 min read

Everything you need to know about next of kin in Australia

Next of kin is usually a person’s closest living relative, spouse or de-facto partner. Learn more about their rights and responsibilities.

Usually your spouse or de-facto partner, or your closest living blood relative, when choosing your next of kin it’s important to understand their different responsibilities.

While ‘next of kin’ isn’t a legally defined term, choosing who will take on the various responsibilities as your next of kin is a very important part of planning for the future. But once you’ve chosen, you also need to make sure they know what to do should they find themselves in charge. 

What does ‘next of kin’ mean

Generally, your spouse or domestic partner will naturally fall into the ‘next of kin’ role. Failing this, according to Safewill, your next of kin is likely to be a child over the age of 18, your parents, or your siblings over the age of 18. In saying this though, you do have the option to specifically nominate someone else if you wish.

If you pass away without a will, your next of kin may be asked to stand in as executor of your estate. Also, if people listed in your will as beneficiaries pass away before you do, your next of kin generally inherits your estate. Of course, this may vary from state to state and it’s always important to consult experts, but at the end of the day, it’s critical to ensure your will is up-to-date and that you have nominated the next of kin you prefer. Why? Because there’s a lot riding on choosing the correct person.

What are the responsibilities of the next of kin?

The next of kin essentially picks up where you’ve left off, so it’s important that they know what to do if you are seriously injured or become seriously ill. This includes making sure they know what directives you want in terms of:

  • medical care
  • how you want your children to be raised in your absence—even down to which school you want them to attend
  • how the expenses should be covered and whether there are certain expenses that can be compromised on to ensure bills can be paid.

Upon your passing there are a number of key responsibilities your next of kin may assume including:

  • Arranging your funeral
  • Notifying friends and family of your death
  • Finalising your financial affairs
  • Administering your deceased estate and carrying out the wishes in your will.

Creating a living will

Separate to your will an Advance Care Directive, otherwise known as a living will, lets your next of kin know your wishes should you not have the capacity to make the decisions yourself. It’s focus is on your preferences for medical treatment if you're unable to make or communicate these wishes yourself. This includes any treatments you would consent to or refuse, as well as the values that should shape decisions made on your behalf.

An Advance Care Directive can be created via a form, depending on your state or territory, a statement of wishes, a letter or verbal. As a general rule though, it’s always better to get signed and written directives so there are no grey areas.

Protecting your family

Taking out various insurances could be a huge help for your family, not just financially but mentally and emotionally as well. Knowing that they may be covered, even just a little bit, to assist with bills and other expenses may make a big difference. Income Protection especially may help ease the financial burden, protecting your loved ones from stress. Covering you for up to 75% of your monthly income up to $10,000 per month if you’re unable to work due to sickness or injury. This can go a long way to cover rent or mortgage, household expenses or even everyday living expenses. Meaning your family can focus on making sure your medical expenses and children are cared for, rather than figuring out the finances.

While making plans for the future might be difficult to talk about, having the tough conversations now will help make things easier in the long run for your loved ones. Insuranceline is here to make it easier. If you need assistance figuring out what insurance you require, give Insuranceline a call on 13 77 87, or get a quick quote for Income Protection Insurance online.

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