Royal London Launch Probate Position Paper


24th Aug 2017

Survey reveals 1/5 of people believe probate in Ireland takes longer than 12 months. 4 in 10 know someone who has experienced delays in probate

The probate process* in Ireland is not as efficient as it is in the UK and other jurisdictions. This is according to leading protection specialist Royal London, who says that its experience has revealed that long waiting periods in the Irish probate process are having a negative financial impact on people who are trying to get the affairs of deceased family or relatives in order. Findings from a recent survey commissioned by Royal London and conducted by iReach on 1,000 people throughout the country, found that 4 in 10 people say they know a friend or family member who has experienced these delays.

Greg Dyer, Head of Operations at Royal London explained the background to the survey,

“We have created a research document which looks at the issue of probate in Ireland in detail, and which compares the probate processes in various jurisdictions. The report highlights current issues and offers, where possible, some recommendations for improvement. As part of our research we wanted to gauge public perception around the probate process in Ireland, and I can say that our findings are in line with what we’ve witnessed with our customers.”

Royal London report that the current administration time taken to process probate in Ireland is having a detrimental effect on the processing timeframe for its life assurance claimants.

Greg commented, “We know from dealings with our customers that there is a great deal of frustration out there when it comes to the probate process following the death of a loved one.

“44% of our survey participants believe the legal process in relation to wills and inheritance takes more than 6 months. However, the reality is that it can take even longer. For example, our analysis of claims in 2016 found the average time to complete probate was 489 days (16 months).

 Royal London respondents were asked “Do you know what probate is?”

YES                                                                 45%

N0                                                                   27%

I have some idea – but not sure       28%

Age  18 -34 35-54 55+
Yes 19% 53% 76%
No 50% 19% 3%
Unsure 31% 28% 21%

The Royal London survey also asked, “On average, how long following the death of a person do you believe it takes to go through the legal process in relation to wills and inheritance?”

  • 1 month 7%
  • 2-3 months 19%
  • 4-6 months 30%
  • 7-12 months 24%
  • 1-2 years 20%

When asked, “Do you know anyone who has encountered legal problems or time delays surrounding wills and inheritance following the death of a loved one?” respondents answered as follows

Yes                             41%

No                               59%

Greg went on to outline, “Based on our research it’s clear the payment of death related claims takes far longer in Ireland than in other countries, particularly in the UK, even though the legal system is comparable. In England, for example, obtaining a grant of probate takes an average of 3-4 weeks. In Ireland, the Law Society suggests a wait time of upwards of 3 months, at least, before a grant of probate can be issued, advising that it can take considerably longer in certain cases. Our research also found that unofficial guidance suggests the process can take up to a few years. However, once the grant of probate has been received by Royal London, it then takes just 5 days, on average, to pay the life assurance claim.

 “Delays within the Irish system have long been a cause for concern. Comments from the former Minister for Justice, Alan Dukes, during this tenure in 1986 point to delays of up to 4 months in issuing grants of probate in the case of the Cork Probate Office**. Over 30 years on, and unfortunately little it seems, has changed.”

Link to Royal London Research Paper


Royal London’s Irish office is based at 47- 49 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2.


*Probate is a formal legal process, which authorises someone to deal with a deceased person’s estate, (that is, property, money and other possessions, owned by the deceased at the date of death).