What Is the Order of the Next of Kin?

The legal order of next of kin is defined as the spouse, adult children, parents, adult siblings, other relatives and public administrators, according to the Knox County Coroner in Ohio. This is the order by which benefits are handed out, relatives are notified of the death of a family member and responsibilities after death are delegated.

If one of the orders of the next of kin is missing or is not able to perform the duties that are required, the next of kin is then passed onto the next person in the order. The order should always be followed when it comes to legal matters and is the determining factor for how benefits are handed out to family members.

Someone who has been divorced from his or her spouse will not be determined in the order of next of kin. In the event of a legal separation without divorce, the next of kin relationship is generally handled on a case-by-case basis. If the person has no family members or next of kin, the responsibilities will go to a public administrator or a governmental agency. This delegation often happens when a person is very old and passes away or when the family members are not familiar with the person who has passed away.