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What happens if you are estranged from a relative but you are still "next of kin" and something (like death or serious illness) happens to that person?

(12 Posts)
onepieceofcremeegg Sat 06-Jun-09 20:12:22

I will try to be concise.

My father is elderly and in poor health.

For many complex reasons that I won't go into fully on here, he has estranged himself from me and my dh and 2 dds. (he never sees the dds, has never met dd2). In a nutshell the issues are mainly to do with his awkward/abusive personality and his past behaviour towards me, so although it is his choice not to see us, in some ways it is a relief. (I have seen him maybe a dozen times at most over the past 20 years)

I stay in contact solely by Christmas card just to make that effort, his choice has been not to respond.

I have one younger db who is lovely but lives a somewhat chaotic lifestyle. Our father is in sporadic contact with him.

However on occasion I receive phone calls from neighbours/police/family friends expressing concern re my father.

This happened tonight. Luckily I managed to get hold of my brother. I would feel horrible saying to the neighbour that it's not my business and my dad doesn't want me involved. However at some point his health will get worse and obviously he will die one day.

Anyone else been through this?

Sorry if I sound callous and uncaring, there is a great deal of emotional history and complexity here. sad

CarGirl Sat 06-Jun-09 20:14:25

My FIL is going through this with his Mum, they just rang the police/ community mental health/GP etc to say there was a problem and no it wasn't anything to do with them as they don't have contact with her IYSWIM

MarthaFarquhar Sat 06-Jun-09 20:15:18

"Next of kin" has no legal status. If your father wishes, he can nominate a friend or neighbour as his next of kin. Should a medical professional contact you, you should simply state that you are estranged, and you know that he would not consent to you becoming involved.

onepieceofcremeegg Sat 06-Jun-09 20:20:28

Thanks for the replies.

I don't think my father would take responsibility for nominating someone else. I know that legally next of kin doesn't mean much. I just feel very horrible basically telling his (lovely) elderly female neighbour that I am not involved.

She does understand to a certain extent, she has witnessed his bizarre behaviours more than once. They are to do with personality/behavioural issues rather than mental health. (I am an experienced mental health nurse and I know that he is not mentally ill as such)

The police rang months ago. Basically he was playing up, telling his neighbour he was ill then ignoring the phone. She thought he was dead. He claimed not to hear the hammering on the door. He suddenly heard it hmm once they shouted that they would bash the door in. I was quite assertive on the phone about the choices he had made but the police were rather hmm with me.

whomovedmychocolate Sat 06-Jun-09 20:23:40

I would be honest with the neighbours and say 'we are estranged, he doesn't want to have anything to do with me' and if he gets into a bad state, call social services. That's all you can do. It's a shame you can't reconcile but you are not responsible for his actions or his health if you don't have a relationship with him anymore.

onepieceofcremeegg Sat 06-Jun-09 20:26:39

Thanks wmmc.

whomovedmychocolate Sat 06-Jun-09 20:29:40

You are nice person for worrying about it

TwoScrambled Sun 07-Jun-09 08:21:07

Maybe you could have the telephone number of his local social services ready incase they call?

onepieceofcremeegg Sun 07-Jun-09 15:24:11

I have been thinking more about this and it is more the emotional side of things that I have been finding difficult...

The practical side of me is able to deal with the practicalities tbh, in fact in my professional life I occasionally have to deal with clients in a similar position.

I was extremely surprised that after yesterday's incident (he had a fall followed by a brief trip to A&E I believe) I had such an emotional reaction. I honestly thought that I was able to distance myself after all that had happened. sad

Thanks for all the replies btw.

mogwai Sun 07-Jun-09 18:39:10

Can he get some sort of regular contact with a district nurse or care team?

I appreciate your position fully but I also feel sorry for his neighbour having to deal with this - I imagine it's a worry for her?

Jux Sun 07-Jun-09 19:01:05

Why do they phone you and then you phone your bro? Why don't they just phone your bro? You can always give them your bro's phone no.

onepieceofcremeegg Sun 07-Jun-09 21:40:24

My brother can be somewhat elusive and doesn't have much of a sense of responsibility. However his dp is lovely and quite responsible, so he has improved a bit. Yesterday I was quite firm and we just got him to deal with it. However I had to make a number of attempts to contact him eventually getting him on sil's phone.

At the mooment I don't think his health warrants a district nurse, and it isn't in his nature to be cooperative.

I shall ring the neighbour to say thanks/send her a card. As mogwai says it is a worry for her.

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