Delays in probate administration

28 February 2020


Not to sure if you have noticed, but I’m finding that the turnaround times in the Principal Probate Registry have been greatly improved. We are getting probates back now in six weeks, wherein the past . . . well . . it was a lot longer. So much so that we’ve pretty much abandoned the local registry. We now send all our probates to Dublin. If you can find a local agent to present the probate at the desk, that is the best we find, as it flushes out the queries a lot quicker. We are finding Cork still about 4 months and Kerry about 3 months. Not too sure if that is your experience. We don’t have too many Limerick grants but I would be interested to hear from Limerick colleagues. This is really helping cashflow.

While talking about cashflow, while probates are turning around quicker, we are finding Revenue clearance becoming more and more cumbersome. This is bad for clients but also bad for us in managing client expectation. So, once the CA24 is signed and finalised you should send it at the same time you are submitting your grant to the local Revenue office of the deceased to obtain your letter of clearance. However, from talking to my accounting colleagues, there appears to be a new(ish) procedure in Revenue so that the local office is not necessarily the Revenue office that deals with the clearance or the queries. The CA24s are distributed. This is the practice in our area and you may be finding this also. Further, we are finding that the Revenue are giving far more scrutiny to each case. They are particularly focusing on assets with potential income. So any property giving rise to rental income, they make enquiries as to what use was made of the asset.

I have had one recent case where they looked for 15 years returns. They also have looked at UK pension income, dividend income on shares or other sources of income. I have also had a recent case of examining potential Irish CGT on the sale of a UK asset pre death. All of this is taking time. On average we are finding Revenue clearance to take about 6 months (in simple cases), but we have had cases going on for 18 months to 2 years (between the time taking to collate the information and wait for further responses from the Revenue). This is helpful in pushing out valuation dates, but obviously clients are getting frustrated and it is important to keep them in the loop.

I’d love to hear of your experiences or your thoughts.