Declaring Next of Kin?
December 12, 2007 4:31 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to legally declare someone your next of kin or the equivalent? I know that you can make a will for estates, and medical care proxies and the like, but next of kin make decisions about funeral arrangements and other issues and I'm not sure how to go about covering all the miscellaneous bases out there. I'm in the US/NYS, gathering info before talking to a lawyer about specifics.
posted by voidcontext to Law & Government (14 answers total)
I think what you want is some sort of limited power of attorney.
posted by pompomtom at 4:44 PM on December 12, 2007

A lot of the info you're looking for would have be covered in discussion about civil unions for same sex couples, in terms of enumerated rights and powers of attorney and so forth, in order to create a legal status in the absence of legal marriage. It's a good place to start looking. I'd provide some links but haven't time right now.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:05 PM on December 12, 2007

pompomtom is right. A limited power of attorney is what you want.
posted by Falconetti at 5:21 PM on December 12, 2007

It sounds a bit like killing a mosquito with a shotgun, but how about adult adoption?
posted by Rock Steady at 5:44 PM on December 12, 2007

I've heard of adult adoption being used for reasons like this. It has a certain cute charm.

But power of attorney is all that is needed, I think.
posted by rokusan at 5:47 PM on December 12, 2007

See this, and especially here. Nolo is good info (and consult a local attorney, natch). We used their info and forms for our wills, powers of attorney, and the like.
posted by rtha at 5:58 PM on December 12, 2007

I didn't realize power of attorney could extend to after death, thanks.
posted by voidcontext at 6:01 PM on December 12, 2007

I didn't realize power of attorney could extend to after death, thanks.

Power of attorney doesn't extend past death. If you want to authorize someone to do something after your death, make them your executor or co-executor in your will or possibly just state in the will what they're authorized to do.

It sounds like you haven't seen the links in rtha's post. Look at them.

IAAL but not an estate lawyer, and NYL.
posted by JimN2TAW at 8:36 PM on December 12, 2007

Yeah, so power of attorney isn't it. But it looks like it's also not to do with a will either, and executor doesn't have any say in things like funeral arrangements. I'll just talk to a lawyer. Thanks everyone!
posted by voidcontext at 9:28 PM on December 12, 2007

But you can direct that your executor, or someone else you designate, handle your funeral. You can pick the venue, the music, and whatnot, and get it all legalified, and bob's your uncle. Unless your parents, say, are particularly hostile to the person you've chosen as your executor (this will sound familiar to gay people, I reckon), and that can create trouble.

Anyway, yes, see a lawyer. What you want to do is really not very unusual, and there are ways to do it. Good for you for planning ahead.
posted by rtha at 9:46 PM on December 12, 2007

There is a chance that your will might not be read until after you're already buried. If you put funeral instructions in your will, make sure your executor knows about them and can get access to the will quickly.

Standardized forms for Advance Healthcare Directives often include sections for instructions about funerals, organ donations, and autopsies. Your designated health care agent is in charge of carrying out your wishes. I don't know how binding the instructions are, though.

IANAL, of course, and you should certainly consult one.
posted by expialidocious at 10:46 PM on December 12, 2007

Funeral arrangements and the like are handled a bit differently than disposition of your bank account. In my state, the deceased's next of kin get to control what happens to his body, and he cannot change that by will. This law was passed to protect the funeral home industry.
posted by yclipse at 4:44 AM on December 13, 2007

You can get a medical care proxy that extends to funeral care...I saw my first one this weekend. As many others have said, power of attorney ends at death. One other thing to consider: in many states, next-of-kin means ALL next of kin. So, if you have five kids, ALL FIVE have to agree on final disposition. Only a court-order can allow you to go forward without consensus. Final disposition includes burial at sea and cremation, but not traditional burial.
posted by ColdChef at 9:23 AM on December 13, 2007

Yeah, it's because we're gay and should anything happen there are religious family members who may try to take over, so I'll need to probably go to some length to make sure everything is set up right. I was hoping for some easy answer or ready to fill out form like there are for medical directives. Our wills and medical proxies were easy enough to set up on our own with software that's out there.

Thanks again, everyone.
posted by voidcontext at 11:22 AM on December 13, 2007

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