What does Next of Kin really mean?

Understanding the true meaning of of ‘next of kin’ becomes essential in life’s unforeseen moments, serving as a cornerstone for legal and medical decisions. This concept not only encompasses emotional ties but also carries weight in legal contexts, shaping the landscape of familial responsibilities and rights.

The events of the past year have brought into focus just how important it is to plan for unexpected life events.  Kate Garraway recently told the heart-breaking story of her husband Derek’s year-long battle with Covid but many others will have been affected by the same issue.  Her situation has been made even more complicated by the lack of legal protection she and Derek had in place. Kate was unable to access funds to manage her husband’s care or refinance her mortgage. She didn’t even have the legal right to see his medical notes, owing to data protection. 

Research by Solicitors For The Elderly, shows that 65% of us think our next-of-kin will be able to make medical and care decisions for us if we are no longer able to. In reality, this isn’t the case unless a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney is in place. Although there has been a rise in the number of enquiries made about Lasting Power of Attorneys (LPAs) during the pandemic, only 22% of people in the UK actually have one. 

When a loved one is seriously ill, the last thing anyone should need to worry about is how to pay the bills. Without a Property & Financial Affairs lasting Power of Attorney in place, accessing funds could be impossible.

To avoid this difficult kind of legal situation it’s important to use a specialist lawyer who is experienced in this area of the law, and is trained to support people making these crucial, complex and difficult decisions.  As with wills, DIY powers of attorney can cause more problems than they solve. According to Which? 22,000 LPAs are rejected every year so it’s essential that you get your legal documents right.