Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing, Darragh O’Brien TD has obtained information that reveals waiting times to receive probate vary widely across the country from 4 to 20 weeks.

Some 30,000 people pass away in Ireland each year with up to 87% of them owning a home. This leaves roughly 26,000 homes potentially affected by delays in probate.

A recent survey carried out by Royal London’s operation here in Ireland indicates that the overall waiting time nationally from a person’s death to the distribution of their assets is16 months. The Department of Justice has also confirmed that a group tasked with reviewing probate in Ireland, which was announced in June 2016 has still not been established.

These factors are likely to be contributing to the relatively high 9.2% vacancy rate of 183,000 homes nationwide.

Deputy O’Brien commented, “In comparison to other countries, probate tends to take an inordinate amount of time to be processed in Ireland. The data I have received through Parliamentary Question indicates that the average wait in Donegal is 20 weeks, its just 4 weeks in Cavan while Dublin has an 8 week average waiting time.

“Each of these examples negatively compare to the average 3-4 week wait to be expected over the water in England.

“Families are not only dealing with grief but they are possibly coping with funeral costs and other expensive arrangements too. The lengthy wait to inherit the deceased’s estate means that these families are under significant stress to cover any outstanding bills.

“Meanwhile, the Department has confirmed that the review first announced in June 2016 has not yet been implemented. These waiting times have a broader impact on the housing market across the country as up to 26,000 homes per annum are caught up in legal red tape. This reduces the number of family homes available and increases the vacancy rate nationally.

“I am calling on the Government to assist in streamlining the probate system with the aim of reducing waiting times and lowering the legal costs involved. A revamped system will require additional staff, e-probate procedures, access for lay applicants, simplified structure for low threshold inheritance claims and simplified Revenue Inheritance Tax claims forms. “