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What are the duties of a probate referee?

The assets and property that comprise your loved one's estate could have varying levels of worth to you and other interested parties. Thus, obtaining a reliable valuation of an estate in Woodland Hills may be difficult if that task were to be left to you and other beneficiaries. In most cases, however, it is not. The court may often assign a designated probate referee to come up with an unbiased figure.

Probate referees tend to focus on an estate's non-monetary assets and property, such as:

  •          Residential and commercial properties
  •          Stocks and bonds
  •          Art, automobiles and other valuable collectibles
  •          Furniture and other household items

Probate referees are typically county officials who are either attorneys or accountants, or whose professional expertise lies in valuations and appraisals. His or her compensation comes from the assets of the estate, which according to the California Probate Code, cannot be less than $75 and cannot exceed $10,000 (excluding expenses). The only exception would be if the court determines the services he or she provides justify higher compensation.

Typically, a probate referee will use several certified resources when appraising an estate. That may include any documents that you or any other interested party has that could help establish the value of assets. He or she may subpoena to have those documents handed over, or to have you or others appear to provide testimony regarding estate property.

If, for whatever reason, you feel that your testimony in regards to estate assets would cause you embarrassment or invite oppression from other interested parties, you can petition the court for a protective order. You may also work directly with the probate referee in such a case. He or she can petition the court to release you of your obligation to appear.  

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