does anyone know who is legally next of kin if a couple are living together but not married. For example, if the man becomes ill, is it the woman he is living with who is next of kin, or one or all of his children?
In the event of intestacy (i.e. deth without a will), then LMJJ is absolutely spot on. Which is why it's essential to marry rather than merely cohabit if you want to leave your possessions to your wife. Even if you are married, you still need a will, as it makes life so much easier!
If you are merely looking for somebody's name to put down on a form when you go into hospital, then you can put down anybody's name you wish - it's the first person who will be told if it all goes horribly wrong.
To the best of my knowledge, the term 'next of kin' has no legal validity, except where wills are concerned. For the purposes of things like going into hospital, you can name whoever you wish as your next of kin. The real problem about co-habitation when there are children of one partner is inheritance,(or possibly who stays in your home should you split up). Unless you make a will, the children will have first claim on your inheritance rather than your partner (and, if you leave a lot of assets, your parents after your children, then siblings). That's one reason why it's important to make a will - the other being to stop the Government getting anything they can get their hands on.
Pre 1926, next of kin was the expression generally used for person or persons who were entitled to the personal estate of an intestate person, under the Statute of Distributions. Currently there is no legal definition.
More recent legislation, the Mental Health Act 1983 s26 (1) defines 'nearest relatives'.
I've had a look at the site you named and it is indeed helpful, - thank you - but I don't see that it makes what I said wrong. It says that if someone is not married, their estate goes to children first,then parents, then siblings - which is what I told John, isn't it?
As far as 'next of kin' is concerned, I also said - as you did - that it has no legal definition. But surely this does not mean that you have to state nearest relative when asked for next of kin - you agreed in your reply that you can name anyone. I think this is important, as it would seem very wrong if a relative who, perhaps, had not seen someone for years, or who they didn't get on with, was automatically entitled to make a life or death decision about a paxtient, for example.
My reply to John was the first time I had used the site and I didn't realise that answers were printed under the question. If I had, I wouldn't have troubled to reply as yoir reply was - I thought - more or less exactly the same as mine. Now you say I'm not right. I'm puzzled - I can't see what I said that it diffeent from what you said.
Why or where am I wrong and you right? Sorry, but I don't get it.
Why are you wrong? Simple really. You sound like a small child who cannot understand why the teacher has marked the question as 'wrong' when they have written something similar - but wrong.
Firstly because you wrote 'Unless you make a will, the children will have first claim on your inheritance rather than your partner (and, if you leave a lot of assets, your parents after your children, then siblings).'
If you have children, then your parents or siblings do not get a look in, however large their assets. That is not what you wrote! Look at the flow chart:
1. Are you married? No
2. Do you have children? Yes
Answer: share estate equally between them irrespective of its value.
Secondly because you wrote 'the term 'next of kin' has no legal validity, except where wills are concerned'. No it does not have legal meaning in the context of wills! Then you wrote in your second posting 'I also said - as you did - that it has no legal definition.' No! you said that it does have a legal definition where wills are concerned, whereas since 1926 it has not!
As we are dealing with legal terminology here, it is very important that we get it right and do not indulge in confused thinking or loose terminology.
I trust you find this helpful.
Oh yes, and why do you write 'But surely this does not mean that you have to state nearest relative when asked for next of kin'? It doesn't. Who said that it did?
If you end up in hospital, and you are not married to your partner, your legal next of kin are your children. If you have no kids, then it is your parents, then siblings and so on.
This has long been a problem for gay couples and there have been cases where someone has been seriously ill in hospital and that person's parents have prevented his partner having access or involvement in decision making.
As for straight couples, (if both partners are legible) there is an answer ... get married!