Probate, Estate Planning and Trust Law
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Reviewing the role of probate referees in California

The process of successfully administering an estate in Woodland Hills can be a daunting one. Oftentimes, those who’ve been named as the executor of an estate are unfamiliar with the many roles and responsibilities that come with such a distinction. One of these is satisfying the demands of stakeholders in the estate who want to know its actual value. Without adequate knowledge in appraisal techniques, making such a determination may seem impossible. Fortunately, for estates that pass through probate, that responsibility is handled by a probate referee.

According to The Probate Referee Guide released by the California State Controller’s Office, the role of a probate referee is appointed by the state to accurately appraise the value of estates involved in probate procedures. Once a Letter of Administration has been issued by the probate court, an executor has 90 days to provide him or her with a list of all of the property included in the estate, minus those considered to be “cash” type items. California Probate Code Section 451 states that a probate referee has the authority to subpoena any interested parties to an estate if it is believed they have information needed in order to make an accurate valuation. Once all records necessary to make a valuation are collected, the probate referee then has 60 days to complete and return an Inventory and Appraisal in all probate estates.

Even though probate referees are not required in non-probate cases, executors or personal representatives may still choose to reach out to them as a resource to assist in carrying out their duties. Having an appraisal performed by a probate referee may help to dispel any accusations coming from beneficiaries or debtors who believe that an estate has been undervalued. 

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