Probate, trust, guardianship and inheritance litigation
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Who Are Next Of Kin In Virginia?

Next of kin under Virginia law generally means the closest living relatives of the decedent.  The Virginia Supreme Court has stated that the term “next of kin” is “a nontechnical term whose commonly accepted meaning is ‘nearest in blood.’”  Elmore v. Virginia Nat’l Bank, 232 Va. 310 (Va. 1986).

Who Are Next Of Kin In Virginia?

Next of kin in Virginia re the following people, in the following order:

  1. Surviving spouse
  2. Children
  3. Parents
  4. Siblings
  5. Grandparents


Do Next Of Kin Inherit From A Decedent’s Estate Under Virginia Law?

Next of kin (used synonymous with heirs) will inherit from decedent’s intestate estate under Virginia law, if there are probate assets, and depending on the survivors of the decedent.


Share of Intestate Estate

Spouse, no descendants

100% to spouse

Children, no spouse

100% to children

Spouse and descendants (all descendants are descendants of the spouse and decedent)

100% to spouse

Spouse and descendants (at least one descendant is not descendant of spouse)

1/3 to spouse, remainder to descendants

Parents, no spouse or descendants

100% to parents

Siblings, no spouse, descendants, or parents

100% to siblings

What Assets Pass By Intestate Succession In Virginia?

Status as a next of kin heir of a Virginia decedent does not automatically mean that there is anything to inherit.  A decedent may not have any probate assets, which are the only assets that pass to heirs under Virginia intestate succession law.  See our Probate and Non-Probate Assets Chart.

If a decedent died with only non-probate assets, such as jointly titled bank accounts or accounts with pay on death beneficiaries, then no assets would pass through probate to the next of kin heirs.

Survival Requirement For Intestate Heirs in Virginia

In order for a next of kin heir to inherit from a Virginia decedent, the next of kin must survive the decedent by 120 hours.  See Virginia Code §64.2-2201.

Inheritance Rights of Half-Relatives In Virginia

Half relatives (relatives who only share one parent) inherit only ½ of what they would inherit if they were whole.  Therefore, a decedent’s half-sister would only inherit ½ of what decedent’s full sister would from decedent’s intestate estate.  See Virginia Code § 64.2-202.

Next Of Kin Under Virginia’s Funeral Services Code

Next of kin has a slightly narrower definition under Virginia’s Funeral Services Code:

“Next of kin” means any of the following persons, regardless of the relationship to the decedent: any person designated to make arrangements for the disposition of the decedent’s remains upon his death pursuant to § 54.1-2825, the legal spouse, child aged 18 years or older, parent of a decedent aged 18 years or older, custodial parent or noncustodial parent of a decedent younger than 18 years of age, siblings over 18 years of age, guardian of minor child, guardian of minor siblings, maternal grandparents, paternal grandparents, maternal siblings over 18 years of age and paternal siblings over 18 years of age, or any other relative in the descending order of blood relationship.

See Virginia Code § 54.1-2800.

If you have any questions about your status as a next of kin under Virginia law, contact a Virginia probate lawyer to answer your questions.