What is a Probate Referee?

Have you ever wondered what a probate referee is and just exactly what their function in our California legal system?  Probate referees are appointed by the State Controller and are officers of the court.  Each probate referee is assigned to a specific county.  The court may designate the referee if court related or the trustee or estate representative can select the referee in relation to trusts or non-probate matters.

 The function of the probate referee is to appraise all property in the estate with the exception of “cash” type items.  The trustee of the estate is responsible to provide the referee with the list of property items needed to be appraised.  When the referee has completed the inventory appraisal, the trustee must then file it with the court.

 The inventory and appraisal is defined as a complete estate assets listing as of a certain date (typically the date of death) or in a guardianship or conservatorship case, the appointment date.  If in a non-court proceeding as a trust petition or an appraisal needed for tax purposes, a different form entitled the “Appraisal Report of California Probate Referee” would be used.

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