WA Late Mother's Estate - How Long to Upkeep Property?

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Lyn Mueller

17 November 2014
I am one of three children who are beneficiaries of my late mothers estate. Mum passed away four months ago. My brother is the appointed executor of will. He is in the process of applying for probate but seems to be dragging this out. Is there a time limit that this needs to be done? The family home has been left to us three children with equal shares.

The property is in a prime location, the house is 60 years old and would most likely be demolished to redevelop the site. I have stated my intention of not wanting to keep the property and definitely not wanting to be party to redeveloping the property. The other two siblings have yet to tell me what they intend to do with their share of the property.

Do they want to sell it or keep and redevelop. As I am an impatient person I am finding this very frustrating. Since Mum has passed away the home is empty, however, we are still employing a gardener, a lawnmower man and a person to do extensive watering and keep an eye on the property. Plus have expenses for Rates, water, electricity, phone etc. etc. We three siblings are paying for this. My question is this: How long do I have to contribute to this upkeep on a property that I do not want and have no wish to maintain?

My other question is this: Mum left just sufficient funds which have covered her funeral costs and will cover monetary gifts she has left to her grandchildren and great grandchildren. My siblings seem to think that this request can be over ridden and that money can be used to pay for the above mentioned upkeep costs until probate is granted and the property belongs to them if they choose to keep it and buy me out.

I strongly feel that Mum's wishes should be honoured and monies distributed as per her will before any is used for upkeep purposes. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Michael T

Well-Known Member
9 April 2014
Hi Lyn,
Have a look at the WA Supreme Court "Probate FAQs" page, which sets out some good information relevant to your legal question, such as:
Where the deceased's will does not name an executor or, for some reason, the only executor named in the will is unable or unwilling to apply for a grant of Probate a beneficiary named in a will or some other person may be able to apply to the Court for a grant of Letters of Administration with the Will Annexed. These applications are more complex than applications for a grant of Probate and applicants should see a lawyer. There are no standard forms available for these applications.

The WA Legal Aid "Duties of executors" page also sets out information about the duties of an executor of a will, such as:
An executor must act with great care. The general rule of thumb is that a year is a reasonable time to finish things up in.
If a beneficiary does not believe an executor is taking proper care or doing the work properly, they may complain to the Supreme Court. This is the only right a beneficiary has until the assets are distributed.

Hope this helps you.

Sarah J

Well-Known Member
16 July 2014
Melbourne, Victoria
Agree with Michael. A beneficiary or interested person can apply for court to order the proper administration of an estate. However, the court will generally not make an order for the executor to apply for probate within the first 12 months after death. Indeed, it is actually good practice to wait at least 6 months so that other "unnamed" beneficiaries who may have an interest in the will can be found and contacted and "unknown" creditors can be notified of the death and make claims over the estate. Creditors must be paid first before distribution to beneficiaries. There is a 6 month period for creditors to make a claim over the estate so it is prudent to wait until after this period to start distributing.