THE MEANING OF “NEXT OF KIN”
By: B.C OBILOR Esq., Dip (Law), LL.B (HONS), BL
The term “NEXT OF KIN ” doesn’t confer the proper of inheritance on the person so named.
If so, of what use is that the term?”
The meaning and therefore the legal implication of the term “NEXT OF KIN” are constantly misunderstood by the standard public.
It appears, though erroneously, that a lot of people think that when you’re appointed subsequent OF KIN OF an individual , it automatically gives you the proper to inherit the person’s properties upon his demise.
In fact, many of us think that, a NEXT OF KIN gives a prerogative over a person’s property.
The above error and understanding of the term NEXT OF KIN has made many of us to keep faraway from the necessity to form a Will.
This is because, they think appointing a NEXT OF KIN, may be a way of naming your beneficiary.
However, the above assumption isn’t in conformity with the law.
It must be noted that, IGNORANCE OF THE LAW isn’t AN EXCUSE.
- WHAT THEN is that the MEANING OF THE TERM “NEXT OF KIN”?
The term, NEXT OF KIN has been described because the nearest blood relation of an individual .
See JOSEPH v FAJEMILEHIN O.O & Anor (2012) LPELR-9849(CA).
The term also can seen as an individual who are often contacted or notified in case of emergencies or eventualities.
For instance, one among the forms that’s usually filled while on transit, requires the knowledge of NEXT OF KIN.
This is needed just in case of any accident.
In other words, where there’s an accident involving that person, his NEXT OF KIN shall be notified or informed.
Also, the term is consistently put into use by hospitals.
In this case, NEXT OF KIN means an individual who can make medical decisions for an individual who is incapacitated or unable to try to to so, during emergencies.
The term is additionally frequently utilized in financial documents by banks and other financial institutions.
In this instance, NEXT OF KIN means an individual who can make sure that the right steps are taken towards the recovery of the cash held at the bank, at the demise of the owner.
In other words, being a NEXT OF KIN of an individual, as regards his money within the bank, doesn’t provides a right to inherit such money, either partly or as an entire .
WHAT IS THE LEGAL IMPLICATION OF THE TERM NEXT OF KIN
W are looking into this from the legal angel just because it relates to the law of succession.
It must be noted that appointment of a NEXT OF KIN isn’t a substitute to the making of a legitimate WILL.
The reason is because, when an individual dies testate (that is, the person made a legitimate Will), the matter of NEXT OF KIN is of no relevance.
The properties of a dead person who dies testate is distributed strictly consistent with the desire .
Thus, his NEXT OF KIN will only be entiled to his properties, if the desire says so.
On the opposite hand, during a situation where the deceased died intestate (that is, without making a legitimate Will), the question of the distribution of his estate is governed by the law.
The customary law/Islamic law or the Administration of Estate Law will apply counting on the type of marriage contracted by the deceased.
In other words, if the deceased contracted a statutory marriage (popularly referred to as court marriage), the distribution of his estate shall be governed by either English Law or the Administration of Estate Law.
See OBUZEZ V OBUZEZ (2007) 10 NWLR (Pt.1043) 430.
It must be noted that the Administration of Estate Law provides for the order of inheritance which must be complied with strictly and a NEXT OF KIN, isn’t among the categories of these entitled to inheritance during this instance.
In other words, SUCCESSION IS REGULATED BY LAW.
It is only those entitled by law to inherit a deceased person’s property which will do so.
A NEXT OF KIN isn’t one among such persons.
However, this is often without prejudice to his right to inherit on a private ground.
Thus, if the person so named as a NEXT OF KIN is that the son of the deceased, he’s entitled to inherit, not as a NEXT OF KIN, but because he’s the legitimate son of the deceased.
Also, if the person so named as a NEXT OF KIN, is additionally named during a valid Will made by the deceased, he’s entitled to an inheritance not because he’s a NEXT OF KIN, rather, because, he’s named within the WILL.
A NEXT OF KIN, WHO is typically A blood relation, THOUGH NOT ALWAYS, HAS NO right OF INHERITANCE by virtue of his status as a NEXT OF KIN simpliciter.
However, it must be noted that the appointment of a NEXT OF KIN isn’t a way OR METHOD OF NAMING AN HEIR.
A NEXT OF KIN isn’t RECOGNISED AS A HEIR UNDER THE NIGERIAN LAW OF SUCCESSION.
Therefore, NEXT OF KIN, STRICTO SENSU, doesn’t by any stretch of imagination, entitle the person so named an automatic right of inheritance.
If the person so named as a NEXT OF KIN isn’t entitled either by the desire or by other laws of inheritance, to inherit, he can’t be conferred with the proper of inheritance by the mere incontrovertible fact that he’s named as a NEXT OF KIN.
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It is hereby submitted that when it involves the law of succession, the term NEXT OF KIN HAS NO LEGAL IMPLICATION.
It therefore doesn’t confer the proper of inheritance
Thus, it’s erroneous and unlawful for anyone to say any inheritance on the singularly reason that he’s named as a NEXT OF KIN.
Such claims have no any legal bases and are unfounded.