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Next of Kin

Everything You Need to Know About “Next of Kin” If You Live in Nashville or the Surrounding Area

When a death has occurred, or a death is expected soon, you might be asked by a doctor, facility, or cremation provider, “Who is the ‘next of kin’?” Lumen Cremation created this guide to help you answer that question.

Next of Kin

The next of kin is a person who has the legal right to make decisions about care after someone passes away. Sometimes, the person who can make these decisions is already laid out in a legal document, called a durable power of attorney for healthcare (DPOAH) or will. If no legal document is in effect, next of kin rules established by the state (view state guidance here) will decide who will be responsible for decisions about death care.

The next of kin is the first surviving relative(s) over the age of 18 in this list, in order of priority:

  • Agent under durable power of attorney for healthcare (DPOAH)
  • Spouse or registered domestic partner
  • Child(ren)
  • Parent(s)
  • Sibling(s)

If someone dies without a DPOAH, the spouse will be the next of kin. If there is no spouse or registered domestic partner, the child or children would be the next of kin, and so on to parents and siblings.

If there are multiple next of kin, such as multiple children, parents, or siblings, one person will generally act as the primary point of contact with the funeral service provider. Still, the signature of the majority will be needed to authorize cremation or burial. If one of the next of kin can’t be reached, there must be ”reasonable effort” made to contact the person before proceeding with disposition.


Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare

A Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare (DPOAH) is a legal document that puts someone in charge of making health care and end of life disposition decisions if you can no longer communicate on your behalf. If a DPOAH exists, the person named in that document has the legal right to make these decisions, above any other next of kin; however, be sure to note, the DPOAH also has to specifically state this person has legal right to care for the disposition of your remains after death.

If you have questions about next of kin or planning a cremation in Nashville, Tennessee, please contact us through our website or call (615) 549-0074 and one of our Cremation Specialists can assist you right away.

Download Advanced Health Directive