Next of kin refers to the line of succession for distributing a deceased person's estate when the deceased did not provide a will. Succession laws differ from state to state and are found in the estate planning and probate sections of state statutes. Typically, the distribution of assets such as real property and bank accounts begins with immediate surviving family members, such as spouses and children, and then proceeds to parents, siblings and grandparents. In New York, the statute for dying without a will--a condition known as intestacy--exists in Section 4-1.1 of the New York Code.
Spouses and Children
New York law lists surviving spouses as the first next of kin, followed by surviving children. If the spouse exists without children, then the spouse receives everything.
However, if a person dies with a surviving spouse and children, then the spouse inherits the first $50,000 and half of the remaining property. The children divide the rest evenly. When children survive the parent and no spouse exists, the children divide the estate evenly.
Parents and Siblings
After spouses and children, the line of succession for next of kin proceeds in the following order: grandchildren, parents, siblings, grandparents and other immediate children of grandparents (aunts and uncles) and their children. When both paternal and maternal sides of relatives survive the deceased person, each side divides the estate evenly.
Other Next of Kin
New York considers half-blood relatives as "whole blood" for the purposes of distributing estates. For example, half-brothers or stepchildren receive the same recognition under the law as siblings and children. Also, children conceived before the deceased's death, but born after the death, receive full status as a child of the deceased. In intestate estates involving adopted children in New York, estate law dictates that adopted children receive the same consideration as other children.
In the event that no surviving relatives exist, the state of New York assumes possession of the deceased's estate.