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We are taught that poor relatives should be given preference when distributing Zakat due to the hadith. Quite similar to the Western saying 'charity begins at home' - however, not every family member can receive your Zakat.
The Hanafi & Hanbali schools are of the opinion that one's lineal ascendants and descendants cannot receive Zakat as a common interest exists between the two.
The Maliki & Shafi'i schools opine that Zakat can only be given to those poor relatives when one is not legally responsible for their maintenance.
If the relative is not a close relative then Zakat can be given to them directly as long as they meet the criteria to be eligible to receive Zakat.