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Using probate referees in California

Estate representatives in California may want to learn about the availability of using probate referees during the administration of estates. Unique to the state, the probate referee system provides licensed professionals who are able to appraise property and assets at an affordable cost. These individuals have to pass a state test in order to be qualified to work as probate referees.

The fees charged by a probate referee are either a minimum of $75 or .001 percent of the value of the assets to be appraised. The referee may additionally charge the estate for their travel and other expenses. Upon hiring a probate referee, the estate administrator is required to provide them an inventory and asset list of items that need to be appraised.

Upon receiving the inventory, the probate referee must appraise all of the listed items no later than 60 days after its filing with the court. The estate administrator must file the list within four months of the court's issuance of its letters testamentary. In the event there is a trust that needs items to be appraised, the time deadlines do not apply, and the referee may appraise anything that is necessary.

The probate process can be long and complicated. By using the services of a probate referee, people may receive sound appraisals of assets held by the estate. Those who need help or advice while administering an estate may want to seek the assistance of an estate planning attorney. An attorney may be able to help the appointed person complete all of the duties needed in order to pass the assets and discharge the estate. People who wish to complete an estate plan that can avoid the estate process might want to meet with an attorney in order to write a will or draft trust documents.

Source: California Probate Referees' Association, "The Probate Referee Guide," Accessed April 21, 2015

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