Time For Change – A review of recent changes to Probate Practice and Procedures

There have been a number of recent changes to Probate practice and procedures in Ireland. These changes have been implemented in an effort to streamline Probate applications, to bring some clarity around Probate procedures, and ultimately to reduce the waiting time for the issue of Grants of Representation. It is worth noting that some of the changes which have been introduced are in fact the re-introduction of old practices and procedures, which will be addressed in more detail below.

One of the most significant changes introduced was the replacement of the familiar Inland Revenue Affidavit or Form CA24. The Form CA24 was replaced in September 2020 by the Statement of Affairs (Probate) or Form SA2. The Form SA2 must be completed and filed online through Revenue’s online system (ROS) or MyAccount. Once the return is filed online, a Notice of Acknowledgement of the return filed is furnished by Revenue, which must then be lodged in the Probate office with other relevant papers, to ground the application for Grants of Representation. This is a similar process to a previous procedure which required delivery of the Inland Revenue Affidavit to the Revenue Commissioners before filing the remaining Probate papers with the Probate Office or District Probate Registry.

Unlike the Inland Revenue Affidavit, the Statement of Affairs (Probate) is not a sworn document, however, it is important to note that the party filing the Statement of Affairs (Probate), whether the Legal Personal Representative or a party acting on their behalf, will provide a statutory declaration to Revenue on filing as to the contents of the return filed. Therefore, if the return is being filed by a party, other than the Legal Personal Representative, then it is advisable to ensure that the Legal Personal Representative signs a copy of the Statement of Affairs (Probate) confirming their acceptance and agreement as to the contents of the return before it is ultimately filed on behalf of the Legal Personal Representative.

The information sought in the Form SA2 is largely similar to the information sought in the Form CA24, however, there is some additional information included in the Form SA2, such as contact details for the Legal Personal Representatives, date of birth and domicile status for each beneficiary estimated to inherit in excess of €12,000, with certain exceptions, and details of any Section 72 and Section 73 Policies held by the deceased. It is worth noting that the Form SA2 can be filed even if for some reason you are unable to secure a PPS number for one of the beneficiaries, usually due to non-co-operation, however, this is limited to only one beneficiary. The Revenue has also recently confirmed that you can complete the return offline, pending the issue of the deceased’s PPS number, which you were previously unable to do and this change is certainly to be welcomed. The Law Society PAT Committee are working closely with the Revenue Commissioners to identify and resolve some other issues raised with the new form, which are to be expected with any new form or return.

Other changes recently introduced include the following:

  1. A Notice of Application, printed in precedent format, must now be lodged with all Probate applications. This is the re-introduction of a previous Probate Office practice;
  2. From 1 April 2020, the Probate Office will no longer accept fee cards. The fees must now be endorsed on the face of the Notice of Application;
  3. The information included in the Oath of Executor or Administrator must match the information recited in the Notice of Application;
  4. Original death certificate, as opposed to copy or certified true copy, must now be lodged with applications for Grants of Representation. The original death certificate will be retained by the Probate office and will not be returned on the issue of the Grant;
  5. The distinction between real and personal estate has been abolished in Oaths, however, the current market value is still required for Oaths of Administration;
  6. Oaths of Administration and Administration Bonds have now been merged into one document;
  7. The Probate Office no longer requires lodgement of copy of the Oath and will not accept a copy. The Notice of Application essentially replaces the need to lodge a copy of the Oath;
  8. In intestate cases, the title in Oaths have been amended so that even where the deceased person is a single man or woman, the question of issue/children must be cleared off i.e. “died a single man without issue”;
  9. You must now also clear off any potential civil partner in the title to the Oath i.e. “died a married man without civil partner”. It is also worth noting that in cases where a surviving civil partner is applying for Letters of Administration Intestate, the surviving civil partner must exhibit the civil partnership certificate in the Oath, unlike a surviving spouse who is not required to exhibit a marriage cert;
  10. Affidavits of Market Value have been abolished since 2018. If the Probate papers are lodged 12 months after the date of death, then the Probate office still requires sight of a valuation prepared by an estate agent or appropriate valuer;
  11. You are no longer required to include the word “unadministered” before the word “estate” in applications for De Bonis Non (DBN) Grants;
  12. The €40.00 re-lodgement fee, which was payable on re-submission of a Probate application on addressing queries raised by the Probate Office or District Probate Registry, has been abolished. This fee was introduced in an effort to encourage lodging parties to be more attentive when lodging papers and to ultimately reduce the number of queries lodged. I’m not sure that this provision ever had the desired effect;
  13. The overall Probate fee structure has also changed and become a lot more streamlined and easier to ascertain the correct fee payable;
  14. The Probate office has introduced an online search facility to allow you establish if a Grant has issued in a particular estate. The Probate office previously charged a fee of €15.00 for this search facility. You do still need to apply to the Probate office or relevant District Probate Registry to take up a copy of the Grant and there is a fee for this facility of €20.00;
  15. The charitable bequest form is also now filed online through the Charities Regulator website. You must provide evidence of filing to the Probate office. You can now also apply online, through the Charities Regulator website, for the appointment of new Trustees and to apply for the Cy-près scheme.

These changes are largely welcomed and should, once all relevant parties have familiarised themselves with the various changes, reduce the number of applications for Grants of Representation being rejected by the Probate office and District Probate Registrars, which should in turn reduce the overall turnaround time for the issue of Grants.

How we can help

If you have any queries or concerns, or would like to discuss the above in further detail, please feel free to contact Trea McGuinness in the Private Client Department of BHSM LLP on 01 440 8300 / tmcguinness@bhsm.ie.

This article is for general information purposes. Legal advice must be obtained for individual circumstances. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this article, no liability is accepted by the author for any inaccuracies.

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