When it comes to Wills and intestate issues, how to prove you are next of kin can be a complicated process. To ensure you are legally recognised as next of kin, it is important to understand the different ways in which this may be established.
At Robertsons Solicitors based in South Wales, we pride ourselves on being experts in arranging and dealing with Wills and all matters intestate.
With that said, we’re going to provide the fundamental aspects of proving you are next of kin when it comes to claiming and distributing wills and estates.
We’ll start with a brief answer first.
Blood relatives can prove legal entitlement easily with legitimate forms of ID, such as a birth or marriage certificate, driving licence or passport. Complex cases can be resolved via other means such as a DNA test. Where a Will does not exist, the court has the power under probate.
Below, we’ll dive a little further into what “next of kin’ actually means. Plus more on the types of ID needed to prove you are next of kin, and how inheritance is distributed along with who to. Plus some next steps you ideally need to make.
How to prove you are next of kin – Making a Will
First, we highly recommend writing a Will. It is a worthwhile task we should all take time to consider completing, particularly as years progress.
According to research carried out by unbiased.co.uk, over 60% of the adult population in the UK does not have a will, including 37% of people over 55.
The two main reasons are that they either planned to write a Will when they were older or, didn’t feel they had sufficient assets or estate to make it worthwhile.
In the vast majority of cases, making a Will is worthwhile. This will avoid any of your assets or possessions being distributed by the courts after your death, which may not be what you wished for. It is relatively simple, and you can contact us now to make a Will.
Aspects of a Will
A Will is a legally binding document expressing your final wishes on the distribution of your wealth, estate, and possessions. Find out more about what makes a Will legal.
It can also include who you would like to leave particular assets to, your wishes regarding funeral arrangements and setting up trust funds and financial securities for loved ones or even donating to your favourite charity.
If you do not make a Will, then the rules of intestacy are enacted and the estate of the deceased will be shared amongst their next of kin …in a particular order of lineage.
This then begs the question as to exactly who is considered the next of kin, as well as the requirement to prove you are next of kin.
How to prove next of kin
First, what does “next of kin” actually refer to?
Next of kin is the closest living relative of someone who has passed away. When it comes to how to prove it, you’ll need evidence that a legal relationship exists between yourself and the deceased.
For example, if you are an immediate family member like a spouse or child then proof of your marriage certificate or birth certificate is usually enough to demonstrate legal entitlement, as we’ve outlined in brief above.
In cases where a Will exists, next of kin is typically defined as the deceased’s spouse, children, parents and siblings – in that order of priority.
In many cases, it is relatively straightforward to prove your identity via marriage, birth or adoption records to claim your specified portion of the inheritance.
What documents you will need to prove next of kin
When claiming a Will or intestate assets – assuming the Will is registered, you may be asked to provide proof of your relationship with the deceased so that a will can be legally distributed according to the deceased final wishes.
This could include birth certificates, marriage certificates, adoption papers, death certificates and other legal documentation that establish how you are related. We’ve touched on this list in more detail below.
In some cases, if you cannot provide the necessary documents to prove you are the next of kin, or if there’s a dispute over how much each person should receive from the estate, the matter could become complicated.
In these cases, it is advised that you seek legal advice as soon as possible and consider applying to the court for directions.
In simple terms, if you are claiming a share of an estate, you need to provide proof that you are related to the deceased person by birth, marriage, or other relevant ID.
These documents can include the following:
- Birth certificates
- Adoption record
- Marriage certificate
- Driving licence
If the deceased had a Will that mentions you specifically as next of kin, then this is also a valid way of confirming your relationship.
In more exceptional circumstances, it is also possible for DNA testing to be used to prove your relationship with the deceased. This can be done through paternity tests which compare the DNA of both parties to determine how closely related they are.
So how do you prove next of kin when there is no will? We’ll tackle that next.
How to prove you are next of kin if there is no Will
Where no will exists, the process becomes a little more complex in England and Wales.
The absence of a Will is called an intestate estate and will enter into probate. In this instance, the process of proving your relationship with the deceased requires a bit more effort.
You may need to gather further evidence such as family photos, letters or other documents that can demonstrate how you were related to the deceased.
In most cases, the next of kin is determined by how closely you are related to the deceased.
When someone dies without leaving a Will, their next of kin stands to inherit most of their estate.
But the order of who inherits what and how much they are given is governed by what is known as the rules of intestacy.
Rules of intestacy
If you’re a spouse or a child, you would essentially be first in line for claiming the estate. If there are no known relatives, the state may assume control over how the assets should be distributed. In
It is important to note that if there is no Will present, the next of kin can be legally determined by a court.
In such cases, the court will look at any evidence presented to them and make their final judgement based on that. This could include documents mentioned above as well as testimony from family and friends who knew the deceased’s relationship with you.
Who inherits what – under the rules of intestacy:
The following list outlines who is likely to inherit what portion of the estate, as guided by rulings to the court.
What order of inheritance is next of kin?
Under intestate, how much a next of kin is entitled to inherit will depend on both the laws in your locality and how the Will has been laid out by the deceased.
Generally speaking, however, where there is no Will, the next of kin will inherit according to the following order:
- Aunts and uncles
- Nieces and nephews
Regarding a spouse or civil partner
- The surviving spouse or civil partner of a deceased individual is entitled to an inheritance worth the first £270,000, plus half of all assets that exceed this value.
- If the estate of the person who died is worth more than £270,000 and they left behind a spouse or civil partner and their estate, their children get an equal share of everything over £270,000.
- If there is no living spouse or civil partner to inherit, the entirety of the deceased’s estate will be equally divided between their children.
- If one of the children has died by this point, their share is equally divided between their children. (i.e. the grandchildren of the writer of the Will).
And this line of inheritance continues based on the above order of potential recipients.
Regardless of which route you take, it’s important to fully support your claim with evidence so as not to slow down or complicate the process.
With enough evidence to prove your relationship with the deceased, you can then move forward with claiming a share in the Will.
When trying to prove how you are next of kin, it is important to remember that not all types of evidence are accepted for Wills and intestate issues.
So for clarification on the above points, and more specifically, based on your circumstances, contact us now as your next step, so we can help you to navigate through this process.