May 7, 2012 § 2 Comments

Every now and then you run into a statute that requires you to join a relative “within the third degree.” MCA § 93-19-3, for removal of disabilities of minority, requires that, if the parents are not living, you must join as defendants ” … two of his adult kin within the third degree, computed according to the civil law …” A similar provision is in MCA § 93-13-281, dealing with suits involving wards.

So who exactly are the kin within the third degree? Parent, child, brother, sister, grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, great-grandparent and great-grandchild.

That’s what the Nolan Chart of Relationships and Degrees of Kindred According to the Civil Law tells us. You can find it reproduced in the Alabama case of Owen v. State, 255 Ala. 354, 355, 51 So.2d 541, 542 (1951). It has been cited in Mississippi appellate cases, such as Matter of Estate of Ford, 552 So.2d 1065, 1066-67 (Miss.1989).

You’ll find the Nolan Chart useful in many ways. When you are trying to determine heirs in an estate, it helps you to translate “She was my grandmother’s sister’s daughter’s third child” into a relationship that even a judge could understand.

An added bonus of the chart is that it will help you understand, once and for all, that your first cousin’s children are not your second cousins. Check out the chart for yourself and you’ll see.

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  • randywallace says:

    It is quite helpful.

    For the benefit of those without other acess to Nolan’s Chart here is a copy.

    • Larry says:

      Thanks, Randy. I have had several copies in my desk for more than 30 years, and I still pull it out and use it from time to time. This post was prompted by a lawyer who asked me whether a first cousin would meet the requirement of a “within the third degree” statute. I pulled out my chart and … nope.

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