Who Are Next Of Kin In Washington DC?

The term “next of kin” under DC law is used as an umbrella term to encompass the surviving relatives of a decedent, including the surviving spouse, who would be in line to inherit under the District of Columbia’s intestate succession laws.  Next of kin under DC law include:

  1. Surviving spouse or domestic partner
  2. Children and descendants
  3. Parents
  4. Siblings and sibling’s descendants
  5. Collateral heirs
  6. Grandparents

What Next Of Kin Inherit From An Intestate DC Estate?

The next of kin that are in line to inherit from a DC decedent’s intestate estate depend on the other people that survived the decedent. For purposes of the chart below, the surviving spouse also includes domestic partners.

Survivors Of the Decedent

Share Of Intestate Estate

Surviving spouse only, no descendants or parent

–          Surviving spouse inherits entire intestate estate

Surviving spouse and descendants who are all shared descendants of decedent and surviving spouse, and surviving spouse has no other surviving descendants

–          Surviving spouse inherits 2/3 of the intestate estate

–          Descendants inherit remaining 1/3

Surviving spouse and descendants who are all shared descendants of decedent and surviving spouse, and surviving spouse has one or more separate surviving descendants

–          Surviving spouse inherits 1/2  of the intestate estate

–          Descendants inherit remaining 1/2

Surviving spouse and one or more descendants who is not a descendant of the surviving spouse

–          Surviving spouse inherits ½ of the intestate estate

–          Descendants inherit remaining 1/2

Surviving spouse and parents

–          Surviving spouse inherits ¾ of the intestate estate

–          Parent(s) inherit remaining 1/4

Children, no surviving spouse, and no other descendants

–          Children inherit entire intestate estate

Parents only, no surviving spouse, child, or descendant

–          Father and mother or their survivor inherit intestate estate

Siblings or child or descendants of siblings, no spouse, child, descendant, or parent

–          Siblings or child or descendant of siblings inherits entire intestate estate

Collateral relations, none of the above survive

–          Collateral relations inherit entire estate in equal degree (no representation allowed)

Grandparents only

–          Grandparents share alike where there are no collaterals

When the intestate leaves a child and a child of a deceased child, the child of the deceased child takes such share as his deceased parent would, if living, be entitled to, and every other descendant in existence at the death of the intestate stands in the place of his deceased ancestor.  See D.C. Code §19-307.

To review the DC law regarding intestate succession, see D.C. Code §§19-302, 19-306 (Children), 19-307 (Grandchildren), 19-308 (Parents’ share), 19-309 (Siblings’ share), 19-311 (collateral relations), and 19-312 (grandparents).

What Do Next of Kin Intestate Heirs Inherit In DC?

Next of kin intestate heirs under Washington DC law inherit assets from the probate estate, called probate assets.  Not every asset that a decedent owns upon death is a probate asset.

Non-probate assets include bank accounts with pay on death beneficiaries, most life insurance policies, and jointly owned property.  See the Probate and Non-Probate Assets Chart.  Only assets that do not pass to someone else at death by virtue of titling or beneficiary designation are considered probate assets for purposes of intestate succession in DC.

DC Has a Survivorship Period To Inherit Under Intestate Succession

To inherit under the DC intestate succession laws, the next of kin intestate heir must survive the decedent by 120 hours (5 days).  Section 19-502 of the DC Code states:

Except as provided in section 19-506, if the title to property, the devolution of property, the right to elect an interest in property, or the right to exempt property, homestead or family allowance depends upon an individual’s survivorship of the death of another individual, an individual who is not established by clear and convincing evidence to have survived the other individual by 120 hours is deemed to have predeceased the other individual.

The survivorship requirement will not apply if its application would result in a taking of the intestate estate by the District of Columbia.  The taking of an intestate estate by the District of Columbia is incredibly rare, since DC intestate succession law provides for the most remote relatives to inherit.

DC Next Of Kin And the Right To Claim Decedent’s Remains

DC law regarding the right to claim human remains sets forth an order of priority of next of kin who have the right to control the disposition of the remains of a decedent.  See D.C. Code §3-413.  First in line is a competent surviving spouse or domestic partner.

A District of Columbia probate attorney can help you figure out your standing and rights as next of kin.

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