The Probate Office, to which the Deputy refers, is an office of the High Court and management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998. However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made with the Courts Service regarding the processing of personal probate applications.
While the Courts Service does not comment on individual cases, I am informed that restrictions under level 5 of the Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19 necessitated the temporary closure of the personal applications process in the Dublin Probate Office in October 2020. It had been hoped to recommence appointments with personal applicants in early January 2021, but due to the re-introduction of restrictions, this was not possible and until such time as the restrictions on movement are lifted or significantly reduced, I am informed that there will be no resumption of personal application interviews. Staff who would usually deal with personal probate applications have been reassigned to work on solicitor applications which continue to be processed.
I am further advised by the Courts Service that personal application interviews cannot be held remotely as the applicant has to be identified by production of appropriate identification and once the identity has been established the applicant has to sign the oath before a staff member. The Courts Service are of the view that remote interviews cannot facilitate this process in such a way as to ensure that the integrity of the Probate system is maintained.