The position is that the Courts Service recently undertook a broad review of the operation of the Probate Office and District Probate Registries. The review involved a wide consultation exercise, including consulting with legal practitioners and customers. The results of the review, which have been endorsed by the Board of the Courts Service, contain a number of recommendations for more effective and efficient delivery of the probate service.
The recommendations include the development of a new ICT platform for the Probate Office and District Probate Registries which will enable online filing of applications for grants of probate and grants of administration. I am informed that a Project Board to oversee the design and implementation of the new platform will be established in the near future.
The Review has also recommended that certain functions should be transferred from the Probate Office to the District Probate Registries and draft Rules of Court are in preparation with a view to giving effect to this recommendation. The intention is to free up resources in the Probate Office in Dublin in order to process more grants of probate and administration.
I should add that additional resources have been allocated to the Probate Office in recent months and this has led to a significant reduction in processing times for applications for grants of representation. At present, the processing time for a solicitor's application is approximately 5 to 6 weeks, while in the case of personal applications the waiting time is 10 to 15 weeks.
While I have no plans to introduce amending legislation in this area, the operation of existing legislation is kept under review in my Department.