How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Jo C. Your Own Question
Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71159
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
Type Your Law Question Here...
Jo C. is online now

Hi, my older sister has a serious lifelong psychiatric disorder

This answer was rated:

Hi, my older sister has a serious lifelong psychiatric disorder and has recently been sectioned yet again. I've been told I am now her 'nearest relative'. Can I tell them I don't want to be put down as that - there is no one else, so what will they do instead? Am I legally required to be responsible for her after discharge when she'll need a lot of monitoring and support. After discharge she will be on her own for the first time (our parents have died and her husband has left her). I don't want anything to do with her care or her affairs. Can I say that and insist on it? Thank you. Hilary.

There is no way around being her nearest relative. She is free to make that disclosure and cannot be prevented from doing so. It would seem that you are her nearest relative so its accurate.

However, you don't have any obligation to be involved in her affairs. Being her nearest relative does not confer any obligations upon you. Thats probably your biggest concern and its nothing for you to worry about. The authorities might approach you and ask you to assist but if you refuse there is no way of forcing you to do so.

Hope this helps.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thank you. That's what I wanted to know - that I'm under no obligation to help and they can't force me to be responsible for her. I can't cope with her behaviour which is why I want and need to keep away from her. Thanks again.

No problem.

All the best.

Please remember to rate my answer.
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I've just noticed this in the information the mental health team sent me:

'If you do not want to take on responsibilities of being nearest relative you can ask someone else to do it...who has agreed...'


If the someone else can be a support worker rather than a relative I might do that. There are no other relatives willing which is my problem.


Otherwise, they can keep me recorded as nearest relative but I won't get involved with anything I don't want to. Perhaps I should put that in writing to them?

Do you mean next relative?

Delighted to continue with this but please rate my answer.
If you, or they, meant next relative then that does imply responsibility and you should opt out.

Its a specific term used by the mental health services.

In fairness, a next relative can still refuse to undertake any duties in relation to their relative but it wouldn't be a bad idea to opt out.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

The term they use in their information is 'nearest relative'. The information leaflet they sent me is from Hampshire County Council and is titled: 'Nearest Relative under the Mental Health Act 1983 - what you need to know'. It says I can give opinions about what my relative needs, make complaints, say if I think she needs to go back into hospital etc.


Perhaps I should contact them and ask if I have responsibilities and then opt out.

I think they are probably referring to what we, in London, would call the next relative.

You should really opt out.

In fairness, even as a next relative you don't really need to do anything. You will just be contacted and asked.

If you don't want that then opt out.