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What is a probate referee?

On Behalf of | Jun 9, 2020 | Estate Planning

The probate process brings with it a number of complexities that you (as an executor) may not anticipate. You no doubt want to justify your family member or friend’s trust in appointing you to manage the administration of their estate, yet unless you have an extensive background in estate and probate law, you may not feel up to the task. 

This may be especially true when it comes to the valuation of the estate. An estate’s total value influences what taxes is may owe, how much there is to both settle debts and pass on to beneficiaries, and even whether it must go through the traditional probate process. Fortunately, the state provides you with assistance in this regard. 

Relying on a probate referee 

Local probate courts understand that many in your position may not have experience in valuing assets. Thus, it provides a probate referee to assist you with that process. Probate referees are financial professionals (often appraisers or accountants) who provide reliable figures when it comes to the value of an estate’s assets. Each probate court typically has its own pool of probate referees to choose from, which come from a larger state directory that all certified probate referees must register with. 

According to the California State Controller’s Office, those seeking to register as probate referees must first pass a state-administered exam. To maintain their registration, they must also complete 15 hours of continuing education annually. 

Probate referee payment rates 

Concern may arise over the payment of a probate referee (specifically whether or not payment for their fees will come out of your own pocket). Not to worry; their payment comes from the estate’s assets. The law allows them to charge up to one-tenth of one percent of the value of the items they appraised for their services (not to exceed $10,000).