What does the law consider next-of-kin that need to be contacted regarding a Will?

I am the executor of my aunt’s Will, as well as a beneficiary in it (her niece by her marriage to my uncle). Thus, I am not only her appointed executor, but also related to her. Her husband (my uncle) is deceased; no children; no siblings; her parents, aunts, and uncles are all deceased. Some of the other beneficiaries in the Will are her cousins by blood. Wouldn’t her cousins that are listed in the Will be her next-of-kin by blood and that I would just need to contact them?

Asked on December 20, 2010 under Estate Planning, Ohio


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, in actuality, while you are a beneficiary and executor, her blood cousins are actually considered her true next of kin pursuant to traditional intestate laws and probate laws. If you are the executor, you have a duty to contact them to inform them she passed and indicate they are listed as beneficiaries in the will.  Depending on the will's provisions, if the cousin or cousins choose to challenge the will (for example, they want more or your share), and the provisions call for it, then they may be out of luck entirely if they challenge it. Once you successfully contact them and explain the next steps, you need to make sure the transition of your aunt's bequests to them will be complete.

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