• Lady Y is the cousin of Lady X's mother
  • Lady Z is the daughter of Lady X's Cousin

Are both Lady Y and Z second cousins to Lady X, and for probate who is the closest heir?

  • 2
    Downvoted because this question is both too vague and too broad. The question of who is the closest heir for probate purposes will vary depending on local law, which varies with time and place. Also, it is not clear if this is a question pertaining to family history. (If this is a dispute between living individuals, G&FH.SE is not an appropriate place to ask this question.)
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 18:02
  • I disagree that this is too vague - I was able to easily diagram this from the information given. It would be good to state the jurisdiction, but as my answer suggests, I don't know of any jurisdiction where a descendant of a great aunt or uncle would be considered a closer heir than a descendant of an aunt or uncle. Determining the nature of relationships between people is an essential part of genealogy (though I agree, not necessarily family history).
    – Harry V.
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 19:42
  • This earlier Q&A can be referred to any time you are looking for what relationships between individuals are called: genealogy.stackexchange.com/questions/6818/…
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 21:40
  • I would just like to point out that if this question is too vague for this site, then I'm not sure quite how to describe the question @PolyGeo refers to?! ;)
    – Harry V.
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 22:00
  • @vervet I've just edited that question to try and make its purpose clearer. My comment here was pointing out that distinguishing second cousins from first cousins once removed already has answers there. I thought your probate answer, and diagram, were excellent; and I agreed with you that the question, with a probate emphasis, was fine.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 22:14

1 Answer 1


To determine the closest relative, draw a diagram.

        Great grandparent
Great aunt/uncle    Grandparent
       │           ┌─────┴─────┐
    Lady Y      Mother     Aunt/Uncle
                   │           │
                Lady X       Cousin
                             Lady Z

From this diagram, you can see that both Lady Y and Lady Z are first cousins once removed to Lady X.

For probate purposes, Lady Z would be considered the closer relative, because Lady X and Lady Z share a more recent common ancestor (grandparent) compared to Lady X and Lady Y (great grandparent). For example, under intestacy laws in England, the descendants of aunts and uncles (such as Lady Z) would be entitled to inherit before descendants of great aunts and uncles (Lady Y). In fact, descendants of great aunts and great uncles have no right to inherit; in the absense of any descendants of aunts and uncles (or closer next of kin), the estate passes to the Crown. Thus, if this scenario refers to an estate in England, it would be impossible for Lady Y to inherit.

  • 1
    Strictly speaking it is perfectly possible for Y to inherit IF there is a will saying that she should. We are assuming that there is no will and that the relevant rules are those of intestacy. If there is a will then I have no idea what "closer" means anyway.
    – AdrianB38
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 8:16
  • 1
    Well yes...if there was a will then there would be no reason to ask this question. One doesn't need to be related at all to inherit something by a will.
    – Harry V.
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 11:16
  • 1
    You and I may believe that if there was a will then there's no need to ask the question. However we don't know if the OP knows that. But titles cannot be bequeathed in wills and go sufficiently far back in Scotland (not very far actually) real estate couldn't be bequeathed in a will either. I just have this nagging worry that this is a dispute not genealogy.
    – AdrianB38
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 11:24
  • 1
    True - at least if this a dispute it can be very easily settled!
    – Harry V.
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 11:28

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