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Your next of kin or someone appointed as the power of attorney (POA) is contacted once you pass away or have become incapacitated due to a medical condition which has refrained you from taking any important decisions on your own.

Well, in most of the cases, the living spouse would be the first person that is considered as your next of kin and would be followed by your children. Whereas, you have the rights to legally appoint any individual to give your power of attorney as long as you follow the legal requirements.

Even though, the next of kin and power of attorney seem to be similar due to their power of taking decisions on your behalf, there are still a number of aspects that tend to make them different from one another.

It is essential to name someone you trust as your power of attorney to make sure that not only your wishes are followed but they receive the right amount of authority to take decision in specific areas.

Now, let’s discuss them in detail.

Next of kin:

Any close relative or a family member that is closely related to you either by blood or marriage is considered to be your next of kin. So, they would be the first ones who would be contacted in case you face an emergency or something unfortunate happens to you unless there is another emergency contact.

Each state or territory has its legislation that usually governs the inheritance law where they mostly consider the next of kin as the rightful owner of your estate upon your death, in case of a lack of will.

In case, you are married or are in a civil partnership then, your spouse or civil partner is considered to be your next of kin regardless of whether you are staying together or have separated. Moreover, if they have passed away then your next of kin would be transferred to your children and if they are below the age of 18 then your next of kin would be your parents.

Although, every state has its own legislation, there is a common list of who can act as your next of kin given that they are above the age of 8 and are mentally fit.

Also, some of the areas may even allow a close friend to act as your next of kin if none of the above options apply.

Power of Attorney:

Power of attorney (POA) is a legal document unlike a person in your family that is considered as your next of kin. A power of attorney allows you to legally appoint someone as your agent that has the responsibility to manage your affairs in your absence or when you are not fit enough to do on your own.

It is a flexible legal instrument as it allows you to give the access to someone to manage your assets after your death or if you are facing a long term mental and physical health crisis.

This also helps you to take assistance in complex legal arrangements or even daily affairs like, it allows you to legally appoint someone who can act on your behalf to represent you in financial and business areas when you are away or don’t have the required skills and knowledge.

Power of attorney can be designated for a number of reasons where you can limit the decision making and rights in the POA form. Here are some of the reasons why people create a POA:

  • Provide the rights to someone to make end of life decisions on their behalf.

  • Have someone who can assist them with their personal finances.

  • To have someone who can talk to medical providers.

  • Appointing someone who can take legal decisions on their behalf.

Given below are some types of power of attorney based on their purposes:

  • General power of attorney: in case of a general power of attorney, the authorized agent not only handles the decisions regarding your business but also manages your finances and assets. There may a termination date that specifies the validity of the document.

  • Special power of attorney: this attorney limits the authority of the appointed agent like you can assign someone who will enter the contracts to buy or sell a real estate, this person would be restricted to that specific task only.

  • Healthcare power of attorney: this attorney helps the authorized agent to take healthcare decisions on your behalf in case you are ill or injured.

  • Durable power of attorney: a durable power of attorney is made even before you require an agent which remains active throughout your life. However, this may not be applied if you don’t require it yet.

The need to understand power of attorney and next of kin:

  • There is always a need to appoint someone who can manage things on your behalf not only after your death but in cases where you are incapable of performing important tasks and taking decisions.

  • The next of kin or POA would be responsible to manage your finances, to look after your properties and to make sure that you receive ample amount of medical care if case you face an unfortunate event, become ill or are travelling for some work.

  • The probate court might appoint a conservator if you haven’t planned for incapacity or they are unable to locate your next of kin or the one available is a minor. This appointed individual by the court will be then be taking the financial and personal decisions on your behalf and would manage your assets.

  • Therefore, it is crucial to choose an individual as your power of attorney who would be capable of making decisions on your behalf especially if you would want someone else apart from your next of kin, that is, your spouse or children and other relatives to manage your financial and personal matters. So, you must select someone who is trustworthy, honest and qualified.

Hence, a consultant can help you better understand these aspects and give you a peace of mind in case you are unable to designate someone trustworthy as your POA agent to ensure that your medical care and finances are handled properly. Look no further as Probate Consultants provide top notch probate services at the most reasonable prices.


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