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By: Scott Grossman on September 15th, 2016

Who Is the Probate Referee? From a California Probate Lawyer

What is a Probate Referee?

The duties of a California probate referee differ slightly from probate referees to the rest of the country. Elsewhere, the referee is granted the authority to perform tasks similar to that of a probate judge. This includes administering oaths or taking petitions. Also, the California probate referee is appointed to appraise property value in a California probate estate.

How is the Probate Referee assigned?

California’s elected comptroller can appoint at least one probate referee for every county in the state. Currently, most counties have several probate referees. To be assigned a probate referee, candidates must pass a written exam and meet at least one of the following work and/or experience requirements:

  • Attorney licensed in the state of California
  • Public accountant certified in California for three or more years
  • Several years of experience in appraisal and property valuation

Appointments cannot last more than four years. Furthermore, most California probate judges assign probate referees on a rotating basis, matching each case with the next referee on their county’s list.

What the California Probate Referee Appraises

The California probate referee appraises the property of an estate in cases where probate is necessary, as well as for trustees in the trust administration process. The referee gathers information about the estate from the executor, administrator, or trustee, often through their legal representation. The probate court requires that valued inventories of the decedent’s entire estate be turned in within four months of the case.

There are several types of property in an estate that need to be inventoried and appraised:

  • Real estate
  • Artwork
  • Valuable collectibles
  • Intellectual property
  • Business-related property
  • Promissory note

A California probate referee does not have the authorization to appraise cash or cash-equivalent assets.

Are you an executor or administrator dealing with an estate that might need to go through the probate process? The California probate lawyers at The Grossman Law Firm offer San Diego probate will contest and trust litigation services. Make an appointment for a free and confidential 30-minute consultation with one of our attorneys today. Call toll-free at 888-443-6590. Get in touch with us online through the quick contact form above.