In California, it is typical to have probated estate examined by a probate referee. Basically, a probate referee is called in to appraise and evaluate the non-cash assets of the estate. Essentially, probate referees are brought in to settle the value of an estate, when necessary. Let our Los Angeles probate attorneys explain what a probate referee does and when they are needed.
What is a probate referee?
Probate referees are appointed by the California State Controller’s Office. They review the inventory of the estate and then make an appraisal of the non-monetary assets listed there. They may also be asked to appraise property that was not included in the probate process, including assets that may have been held in a living trust.
There are education and experience requirements that have been established by the California State Controller’s Office. Candidates for a probate referee position are also required to pass a written exam and meet a few other specific work experience requirements.
What is the function and purpose of a probate referee?
A probate referee, in order to appraise the necessary property of an estate, will obtain information regarding the assets and debts of the estate from the trustee, executor or administrator. The necessary information is provided to the probate referee on a legal form that the probate referee must complete and sign.
Once the appraisal has been completed, the probate referee will attest to the value in writing. The appraisal must be performed “honestly, impartially, and to the best of the referee’s ability.”
What are the fees paid to probate referees?
California has established fees to be paid to probate referees based on the appraised value of the estate assets – specifically, they are paid .01%. Additionally, probate referees are allowed to charge for expenses like mileage and photographs. Ultimately, a probate referee will receive at least $75 for their services and the fees are capped at $10,000,000. The fees are satisfied by the estate.
How can I find a California probate referee?
The easiest way to find a probate referee is through the California State Controller’s Office’s website. On their website, there is a directory for referees, listed by county. Another method is by contacting the California Probate Referees Association to find a California probate referee.
Does every estate require a probate referee?
Probate referees are typically used during California probate proceedings, but there are a few situations that do not require that a probate referee gets involved. For example, when a small estate is settled by way of a non-court Affidavit, which is allowed under the California Probate Code, a referee is not required. Also, any estate that that only has cash assets would not need a probate referee because there is no property that needs to be appraised.
The probate referee requirements can be waived
Though it doesn’t happen often, the probate court can waive the probate referee requirement when there is a showing of good cause. Obtaining waivers for good cause require attendance at a hearing after the necessary documents have been filed with the probate court requesting the waiver. However, most probate courts are reluctant to grant these waivers.
Requesting appointment of probate referee
The process for requesting the appointment of a probate referee will differ depending on the county where the estate is being probated. Several counties in California automatically designate an appointed probate referee in the Order for Probate. However, in other counties, a separate form is often required. For example, Los Angeles County requires Local Form PRO-001. If you have questions about the requirements in your county, let our Los Angeles probate attorneys help. This way you can avoid unnecessary delay in the appointment process.
When the petitioner chooses the probate referee
In some probate proceedings, inventory and appraisal of estate property must be completed before the petition for probate is filed. In those cases, the petitioner is expected to choose the probate referee and indicate such in the petition. The petitioner can choose from any probate referee currently appointed in the county where the property is located. If need assistance selecting a probate referee, contact our Los Angeles probate attorneys today.
Download a FREE estate planning worksheet today! If you have questions regarding probate, estate planning, trust contests, or any other trust administration issues, please contact the Schomer Law Group either online or by calling us in Los Angeles at (310) 337-7696, and in Orange County at (562) 346-3209.
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