WA What to do in case of interstate death where parent's will status unknown.

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Active Member
27 April 2023
Hi All,

I've a mother and father who both live in Western Australia. My father has remarried, and currently owns at least two properties with his second wife. We are rarely in contact and the relationship is strained, not least due to the nature of the woman he remarried to. Suffice to say she would do what she can to ensure that she maximises whatever he may leave behind for her family and minimise whatever I may be due. This was made all too clear in my last visit to them a few years ago.

I'm no legal expert, but given my limited life experience I have learnt that sometimes if you miss time critical events in certain circumstances, then you can pay a severe price further down the road that you could have avoided had you been clued up as to how to act in the moment that the event occurred. I've not been able to get a clear answer from his as to whether he's planning to leave me anything, and I don't even want to ask because I was more concerned about demonstrating an interest in re-bonding for the sake of the relationship whilst he's still mentally functioning. But let's be realistic, given his advanced age, and attitude to re-establishing meaningful contact, there's a good chance that in the next few years I'll get that awful call advising the news.

What I want to know is how I should act when that news comes in. Would there be any time critical steps I should take following his death to ensure I don't miss out on anything he may have intended for me to inherit? Should I be asking for any documents, or proof of the will if he has not provided me one beforehand? Should I fly across to WA to be present for anything that might reveal critical information that might then allow me to pursue an entitlement I might otherwise be unaware of?

Thanks in advance for any advice as I've not even been to a funeral yet, and so have little info or advice as to how this might play out.


Well-Known Member
16 February 2024
Firstly, you sound very entitled expecting him to leave you anything, and it is a bit disturbing that your bonding is asking about what you'll receive when he dies. Seems like an odd way to try to rebuild a strained relationship. Focus on spending time with him, not his money, and just be grateful if you receive something.

When the news comes in grieve and let others have some time to grieve too before fighting over his houses. There's not much anyone can do until they get the death certificate which can take a month or so.

If you are receiving a gift in the Will, you will be informed unless it is subject to someone else receiving it first (e.g. house is left to the wife, but if the wife dies then it goes to you). If you do get left out and decide to make a claim, be aware that some assets may fall outside of the estate if they are in joint names with his wife, such as properties and bank accounts, or superannuation if there is a binding death benefit nomination. While I am not from WA myself, certain assets (including properties that are held in his sole name or tenants in common) require probate. If you're worried, do a title search to see if properties are jointly owned. Land Enquiry Services

For most states, you have six months from the date of probate (this is not the date of death) to issue a claim seeking provision from your father's estate. Making a claim is not as simple as saying, 'I'm a child and he left me out'. Sometimes it is perfectly okay for children to be left out. Several factors are considered as to whether you have any 'need' or have not received 'adequate provision', including your relationship with your father, whether any estrangement is reasonable, your current living circumstances and needs generally (E.g. if you also have two houses, you're probably doing alright).

There is generally no reading of the Will like they have in the movies. If he is still alive, you are not entitled to receive a copy of his will. He can let you view it if he wants to. In any event, if he has capacity, he can change it whenever he wants and you won't know. If he dies and you are not a beneficiary, you may still not be entitled to receive a copy but may obtain one if you take steps to make a claim.

If you get stuck or are unsure, go get advice from a lawyer about whether it is worth pursuing or it could cost you a lot of money.