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Dublin: 9 °C Friday 23 March, 2018

'It has a big impact on loved ones': Probate delays leave families waiting months to resolve inheritance

TD Barry Cowen said this means families coping with funeral costs are left waiting for months before they can inherit the estate.

Image: kaprik/Shutterstock

NEW FIGURES REVEAL a wide disparity in probate application waiting times across the country, taking 48 weeks on average in some places.

Probate is the judicial process of validating a deceased person’s will and is the first step in administering the person’s estate and resolving all claims to their property or wealth.

The national average waiting time for a solicitor application is 11 weeks, but this ranges from four weeks in Wexford on average to 20 weeks in Letterkenny.

In Dublin the average for a solicitor application is 17 weeks, in Galway and Cork it is 16 weeks, in Sligo and Limerick it is 12 weeks and in Waterford it is 10 weeks.

The average for personal applications ranges from eight weeks in Wexford to 48 weeks in Dublin.

The figures were released to Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen, who said it takes an “inordinate amount of time” to process probate in Ireland compared to other common law states.

“This means families coping with funeral costs and other arrangements are left waiting for months before they can inherit the deceased estate. Meanwhile the Department has admitted that a review announced as far back as June 2016 is still on-going,” he said.

Some 30,000 people pass away every year in Ireland with up to 86% of them owning a home. This potentially leaves some 26,000 homes affected by these delays in probate.
These waiting times have a big impact on the loved ones left behind. I am calling on the government to assist in streamlining the probate system so that waiting times and legal costs can be reduced.

Cowen said a streamlined system should involve additional staff, e-probate procedures, access for lay applicants, as well as simplified structures for low threshold inheritance claims and simplified Revenue inheritance tax claims forms.

“These small steps will help to increase the supply of homes onto the market by reducing waiting times families endure going through probate,” he added.

Read: Almost half of people would support people getting married to avoid inheritance tax>

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