Can a half-brother be considered a next of kin? (when distributing the assets of the deceased)
Distributing the assets of a deceased
In Singapore, assets of a deceased fall into intestacy in two scenarios:
- The deceased leaves behind no will.
- The deceased leaves behind a will, but it is deemed invalid (i.e, certain assets are left uncovered or unspecified).
In the absence of a valid will, the Intestate Succession Act then applies (does not apply to Muslims). This Act outlines how the assets of the deceased should be distributed.
Where assets are to be distributed to siblings
Under Section 7, rule 6 of the Act, it is stated that in the event where the deceased leaves behind no surviving spouse, children or parents, the brothers and sisters of the deceased shall get equal portions of the asset.
In the case whereby the deceased leaves behind a half-brother, Section 6 of the Act sets the ground for situations where persons are related to the deceased in the same way (i.e, the deceased has two brothers).
According to section 6, it can be interpreted that a half blood sibling can be considered to be a next of kin, but is prioritized after a full blood sibling in the distribution of assets.
A half-brother’s priority with regard to lower-ranked parties
Under Section 7, we note that the deceased’s grandparents, uncles and aunts rank after siblings in the rule for distribution of assets.
In the case whereby the deceased leaves behind a half-brother as his only sibling, along with grandparents, aunts and uncles, section 6(a) states that there is no distinction between persons of the full blood and persons of the half blood.
Therefore, the half-brother, being the sibling of the deceased, still has the right over the grandparents, uncles and aunts.
Deceased leaves behind:
- A full blood sibling and half blood brother
The half blood brother does not have the right to succeed in claiming the assets.
- Only a half blood brother
The half-brother shall inherit the assets, over the deceased’s grandparents, aunts and uncles (if any).
Hence, the half blood brother can be considered a next of kin. However, it is crucial to note that a full blood brother and/or sister will have priority in claiming the assets.
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