Family Forum: Inheritance Rights

Advice about legal rights to inheritance.


My mother passed away about four years ago and my brother, who lived with her, made sure he got every cent of the family estate. I am one of six siblings (five girls and one boy).

Mum always told us that we would all get an equal share of the estate. All of us except my brother worked in the family businesses with no pay until we got married. In my mum’s later years, she became a heavy drinker and was mentally abused by my brother and always had arguments. Somehow my brother got her to leave everything to him, except for $20,000 for each daughter. I have not yet received a cent of the $20,000. What are my rights? How can I get my inheritance?

I know that mum had $300,000 in the bank before her death and there is still the family home, which he is desperately trying to sell.

Any advice would be much appreciated.


It is concerning to note that you have not received your inheritance after four years, particularly if there was $300,000 in the bank at the time of your mother’s death.

It is generally a requirement that the executors of a will pay out the monetary gifts as soon as reasonably possible if there are funds to do so.

In most cases involving a will, the executors will apply for probate, which gives them the appropriate authority to deal with the deceased estate. You can search the probate records at the Probate Registry, which is only open to the public between 9.30am and 11.30am Monday to Friday. It is located in the Sir Samuel Way Building in Victoria Square, Adelaide, telephone 8204 2444.

There is a lot of useful information available on the website if you follow the link marked “Wills and Probate”.

Time limits apply to most claims arising out of a deceased estate. The time limit is six months after the grant of probate, and there are only limited circumstances in which an extension of time may be granted.

It is not possible to make a claim after the six months period has elapsed if the estate has been distributed to the beneficiaries.

The panel recommends that you get in touch immediately with a solicitor who handles deceased estate cases for advice on your position.

The Legal Services Commission of SA has a free help line (1300 366 424) and the Law Society of SA has a specialist referral service (8229 0200 or website

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