In California, a probate referee is typically assigned to a probate case to examine the non-cash assets of the estate and appraise their current value. This person may be an attorney or a CPA with relevant training and experience,

In some California counties, a probate referee is automatically designated as part of the Order of Probate. The estate representative, executor or trustee will need to complete a Form DE 160 to declare the contents of the estate along with an estimation of their value. The probate referee will then ascertain the current value of the non-cash assets in an impartial manner, to the best of his or her ability.

Examples of non-cash assets can include stocks and bonds, works of art, collectibles, antiques, automobiles, jewelry, business assets and so on. It can be difficult for an estate representative to estimate the actual value of such items, due to their varied and eclectic nature. Estate representatives can assist the probate referee by providing applicable investment statements, or proof of insurance coverage, or copies of professional appraisals that may exist in the records of the estate.

Once the appraisal of non-cash assets is complete, the probate referee will declare the value of these items in writing and submit their findings to the court.

There are situations where the inventory and appraisal of non-cash assets must be expedited prior to filing a petition for probate. In these instances, the petitioner can choose from any probate referee currently appointed in the county where the property is located.

If the estate does not have non-cash assets, or is being settled by a non-court Affidavit, a probate referee may not be necessary.

The cost of a probate referee’s services are paid at .01% of the estate’s assets. A probate referee is also allowed to charge for mileage and photographs. Fees are capped at $10,000,000 and are paid by the estate.

This article is intended as general guideline for petitioners and personal representatives of the estate. We are a real estate brokerage company that specializes only in the sale of residential and commercial probate properties. Our company was founded by a 20+ year real estate veteran and attorney. While we are not acting as attorneys on your behalf, we can point you in the right direction and help you avoid costly mistakes that could hinder the probate. Let us help you today!