Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Over the years, Robertson Hayles Lawyers has encountered many complex deceased estates. This involved tracing of the rightful beneficiaries of the estate in multiple jurisdictions and taking appropriate court action to deal with the estate in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

This involvement has been satisfying as we have assisted many beneficiaries from Australia and overseas in complex deceased estates to reach a resolution after years of the estate being in limbo.

Recently, Robertson Hayles Lawyers had the privilege to resolve a historical deceased estate where the deceased died nearly a century ago. In this case, the original executors of the deceased’s last will had obtained probate and distributed the deceased’s estate to his wife and children in the 1920s. However, the original executors overlooked a sliver of land which the deceased owned in Perth. The deceased’s ownership of the land remained unnoticed for nearly 100 years to around 2018 when a developer requiring an adjoining land for development discovered that this land belonged to a deceased who passed away in 1922. The developer managed to contact a descendant of the deceased. We were then instructed to act for the estate. This required us to trace the descendants of the deceased over a 100-year period to determine the descendants with legal standing to apply for probate and the rightful beneficiaries and their respective share of the estate. Hours were spent on researching records at the birth, deaths and marriage registry, court probate records, electoral roll records, historical records held by the State Records Office, family trees on various websites and interviewing the living descendants of the deceased. Finally, 24 descendants of the deceased were identified as beneficiaries of the estate. It was satisfying to resolve the estate and distribute the balance of the estate to the deceased’s rightful beneficiaries.

From time to time, families, local councils, property owners or developers, accountants and financial advisors may need assistance to deal with an unresolved historical deceased estate when land or other assets held by the deceased come to light. Often these assets must be dealt with quickly. For example, land required for development or when the assets have to be sold to preserve its value.

At Robertson Hayles Lawyers, we have years of experience in resolving complex deceased estate matters and have the capability and capacity to deal with historical deceased estates including the provision of the following legal services: –

  • Investigating the historical deceased estate to determine the appropriate course of action to resolve the estate and the assets held by the deceased.
  • Where appropriate, applying to the Supreme Court of Western Australia for a grant of “Letters of Administration Ad Colligenda Bona Defucnti” which permits an interim administrator to deal with the assets of the deceased estate pending tracing and determination of the beneficiaries. Often, in this situation, a solicitor of the legal practice can be appointed to be the interim administrator to manage the assets of the deceased estate. Where the case requires and the court deems appropriate, this type of grant may also permit the assets to be sold although the tracing and determination of the beneficiaries of the estate have yet to be completed.
  • Tracing the potential executors, administrators, and beneficiaries of the estate, sometimes spanning several generations, and located in different countries, and considering the law to determine the person with legal standing to apply for probate or letters of administration and determining the rightful beneficiaries and their respective share of the estate.
  • Tracing the assets of the deceased including land, bank deposits, shareholdings, unclaimed monies and overseas assets.
  • Dealing with executors, administrators and beneficiaries in different countries, tracing assets in Australia and overseas and dealing with the requirements of a deceased estate in multiple countries.
  • Resolving the estate by applying for probate or letters of administration so that the assets of the estate can be collected with these assets or the proceeds of sale of the assets to be distributed to the beneficiaries of the estate.

Robertson Hayles Lawyers specialises in the application for all type of probate and letters of administration to the Supreme Court of Western Australia and the management and resolution of a deceased estate, particularly in complex estate matters.

Contact us

For all enquiries, please get in touch with the probate lawyers at Robertson Hayles Lawyers at (08) 9325 1700 or by email at or via our contact form on our website, and we will be happy to assist you with your probate matter.


The above content is only intended to provide a general overview of the topic discussed. It is not intended to be comprehensive, nor does it constitute legal advice. You should seek legal advice specific to your circumstances before acting or relying on any of the above content.