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how long does probate take in ireland?

What is Probate?

Firstly, we need to discuss what is Probate. If the deceased person left a Will, the person who deals with the estate is called the “Executor”. This means that they make sure that any spouse/civil partner is aware of the right to a legal right share and distributes the estate in accordance with the Will and the law. The Executor takes out, what is called, the Grant of Probate.

To take out probate means to have the Probate Office certify that the Will is valid and that all financial, legal and tax matters are in order. Wills only take effect when the Probate Office deems the Will to be valid. The Will is then said to have been ‘proved’. The Probate Office might make some enquiries before reaching its decision.

If there is no Will, or, if there is a Will but there is no executor, then an “Administrator” is appointed. The Administrator needs to take out a Letter of Administration (or a Letter of Administration with Will Annexed if there is a Will). Typically, it is the next of kin who applies for a grant of administration and the Probate Office has authority if there is any doubt as to who the Administrator should be. In such a scenario, the Administrator must give an administration bond to the Probate Office. This is in essence a guarantee that the Administrator will carry out their duties correctly.

The roles of the Executor and the Administrator are broadly similar. They should put together a schedule of assets (such as property, pensions, bank accounts etc) and ensure that all the debts of the deceased person are paid. Once the debts have been paid the balance of the estate is distributed to the beneficiaries of the estate.

How long does the Probate process take?

It is difficult to say how long probate takes in Ireland, as it will depend on the individual circumstances of each case and on the volume of applications the Probate office is dealing with at the particular time. It can take between three and six months to get a grant of probate approved, depending on the size of the estate and the amount of paperwork you are submitting. Delays can happen where incorrect paperwork is submitted or required documentation is omitted from the application.

An Executor or Administrator has 12 months to deal with the distribution of an Estate from the date of death. This is known as ‘the Executor’s Year’. An executor is obliged to distribute the assets as soon as possible after the death. Depending on the facts of the particular circumstance, the executor could be sued by the beneficiaries if they do not distribute the estate within a year.

In order to aid you in the understanding of how long the Probate can take after a person dies, it is beneficial to know how the process works.

Stage 1- Establishing whether or not there is a Will

The first step is to find out if there is a Will or not. This will be much easier if the deceased’s solicitor or a beneficiary is aware of the location of the Will. Once the Will has been located, the Executors named in the Will must then be located so that they can indicate whether or no they can act. If the Will cannot be located, then the next of kin of the deceased must be contacted as they then can apply for a Grant of Administration. Both Executors and Administrators are known as “personal representatives”.

Stage 2 – Locate the beneficiaries

The personal representatives must contact the beneficiaries under the Will or if there is no Will under the Rules of Intestacy. The process may be quick if there are only a few beneficiaries and/or they all live locally, however it may be more complicated if the beneficiaries had lost contact with the deceased or moved abroad.

A Court order may be necessary in circumstances where the beneficiaries cannot be located. The personal representative must attempt to locate any lost beneficiaries using different means, for example checking the electoral register in a location you think the beneficiary might be living or checking social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Stage 3 – Establish the value of the Estate

This is probably the most time-consuming step - calculating the value of the estate. This involves identifying all the deceased’s assets and debts to establish their value.

This part of the process will involve contacting financial institutions and potentially hiring a professional valuer to value property assets. The personal representative must also contact mortgage lenders and other creditors to establish the value of any debts or liabilities outstanding. It is essential that all the assets and debts are identified, or it may create issues at later stages in the process.

Consideration should also be given to whether any taxes need to be paid on the estate or not.  

Stage 4 – Complete the Probate Application and the necessary forms

Once the value of the estate is calculated, the personal representative or their solicitor will be able to prepare a Statement of Affairs (Probate) Form SA.2 which sets out the deceased’s assets, debts and beneficiaries.

A notice of acknowledgement will then be issued by Revenue and the documents should be lodged by the solicitor with either your local District Probate Registry or the Central Probate Office in Dublin.

Once the Probate Office has received and reviewed all of these forms, the personal representative will need to swear the executor’s oath, to affirm that they believe the Will in question is the last Will of the deceased, that they are the chosen executor and that they will administer the Will in accordance with the law.

Stage 5 – Wait for a grant to be issued

Once the application has been submitted it is a matter of waiting for the Grant to issue or alternatively the personal representative may have to respond to any queries put forward by the Probate Office.


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