A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: beneficiary

Taylor Swift’s “Next of Kin” Doesn’t Fly

By Asher Hawkins 

A small plane piloted by a Canadian amateur aviator crashed at a Nashville airport in late October. That, in itself, was not national news.  But when word spread that Michael Callan, the 45 year old pilot, had listed songstress Taylor Swift as his “next of kin” in documents on file with his flying club, media across the globe became interested, fast.

According to The Tennessean, which has spearheaded media coverage of the story, Ms. Swift has denied even a passing acquaintance with Mr. Callan. The fatal crash made for great press fodder due to unanswered questions surrounding the pilot’s possible criminal record, and his unusual flight path across half of middle-America. Unwittingly, journalists covering the story also touched on another mystery: the precise meaning of the phrase “next of kin.”

As LASIS will explain, the phrase “next of kin” is a whole lot more than just the title of Patrick Swayze’s most underrated action film—it’s also an important term of art in trusts and estates law, with complex connotations regarding how a person’s assets are divvied up upon his death, and how much red tape is in store for those who stand to receive a portion of those assets.

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