Nearest relative

Explains what a nearest relative is, including what powers and rights they have and how you can change your nearest relative. Applies to England and Wales.


If you have a mental health problem, your nearest relative will have certain powers and rights related to your care and treatment.

Quick facts

  • The Mental Health Act has a list of who will be your nearest relative. The list is in strict order and the person who is highest on the list is your nearest relative. 

Please note

  • This guide only covers nearest relative from the point of view of a person with a mental health problem.
  • This guide applies to England and Wales.
  • This guide contains general legal information, not legal advice. We recommend you get advice from a specialist legal adviser or solicitor who will help you with your specific situation and needs. See Useful contacts for more information.


This information was published in January 2017. We will revise it in 2019.

Mental Health A-Z

Information and advice on a huge range of mental health topics

> Read our A-Z


Helping you to better understand and support people with mental health problems

> Find out more

Special offers

Check out our promotional offers on print and digital booklets, for a limited time only

> Visit our shop today