• California Probate Inventory and Appraisal Process

California Probate Inventory and Appraisal Process

In California, the contents of a probated estate must be inventoried and appraised. The estate’s appointed representative is required to perform an inventory of all assets and have them appraised. Regardless if the decedent left a will, his/her estate must be inventoried and appraised under probate. Read on to learn more about the California probate inventory and appraisal process as it pertains to various California probate proceedings.

What Assets of a Decedent’s Estate Require Appraisal?

Although all assets in a decedent’s estate need to be inventoried, not all assets require appraisal in the California probate and inventory appraisal process. Assets that are subject to probate are valued as of the date of decedent’s death, not the date they are appraised. The inventory should include all property owned by the decedent such as real property; cash, checking, savings and investment  accounts; household furniture; jewelry; collectibles such as coin collections, antiques and record collections; business interests, and other assets.  Once the assets have been identified, they are listed on an Inventory and Appraisal form as either assets requiring appraisal or assets that to not require appraisal.

Assets that do not require appraisal are cash assets. The cash assets are detailed by the estate representative, should be specifically described, and valued on the inventory and appraisal form, and should include the bank institution, account type and  account number. The estate representative will provide the dollar value of these cash assets at date of death.

Non-cash assets require appraisal by a probate referee. Although these assets are also detailed  by the estate representative, the probate referee, not the estate representative, will fill in the appraised dollar value of each asset.  As with the cash assets, the estate representative will need to clearly detail all non-cash items on the inventory and appraisal form. It must also be indicated whether the decedent owned a partial interest or 100% interest of each asset listed. If the decedent owned a partial interest, the probate referee will appraise the value of that asset based on the decedent’s partial share interest. The probate referee is allowed to charge a fee for their services. The statutory fee is 1/10th of 1% (.001) of the total assets listed on Attachment 2 they appraise. This fee does not apply to cash assets since those assets do not require appraisal. In addition, the probate referee can charge for mileage. In smaller estates, the probate referee is usually allowed to charge a minimum fee for their services. This minimum fee is typically $75.00.

The California Probate Inventory and Appraisal Process

There are 3 different types of probate proceedings that need the filing of an Inventory and Appraisal –  1) the small estate affidavit process for estates with real property under $50,000, 2) the small estate process for estates with real property under $150,000, and 3) a full probate proceeding for estates over $150,000. Spousal Petitions are exempt from the California probate inventory and appraisal process and do not need an Inventory and Appraisal to be filed with the court.

The inventory and appraisal of the decedent’s estate determines the value of the estate as of the date of the decedent’s death. The estate’s representative is tasked with identifying all the assets, selecting the probate referee, arranging the probate referee’s completion of the inventory and appraisal and filing the completed Inventory and Appraisal with the court. In large estates requiring a full probate, the probate referee is appointed by the court. The Inventory and Appraisal process take place after Letters have been issued to the estate representative. In small estate proceedings, however, the representative must select a probate referee to complete the inventory and appraisal. When the appraisal is completed, the probate referee will sign a statement attesting to the value they have identified for each non-monetary asset they have valued. Once fully completed, this document known as Inventory and Appraisal Form DE-160, is filed with the probate court.

Inventory & Appraisal Forms

As mentioned above,  it is the responsibility of the estate representative to start the California probate inventory and appraisal process. This starts with preparing the Inventory and Appraisal form with detailed information about the decedent’s assets. The probate referee is then provided with the completed inventory and appraisal forms to value the non-cash estate assets. In order for the probate referee to properly complete this process, the inventoried property must include a detailed description of the assets. Non-monetary assets to be appraised by the probate referee may include real estate, vehicles, and household goods. In a full probate proceeding, the inventory of the decedent’s estate must occur within four months after the estate’s representative has been appointed by the court. Contact A People’s Choice for more information on completing the inventory and appraisal forms.

Tips to Successfully Complete a Probate Estate Inventory & Appraisal

The Inventory and Appraisal is a key part to probating a decedent’s estate. When taking the inventory of real property, it is important to check all title documents to make sure the decedent’s proper percentage of ownership is listed and whether it is subject to probate. It is important that all assets are correctly identified. An asset with an incorrect description such as an error in the legal description of real property, can create problems down the road.

If you are the estate’s representative, you will be responsible for appraising the cash assets.  The probate referee appraises non-monetary assets because the value is harder to determine. Make sure the inventory and appraisal form is filed with the court within the specified time frame and describes all cash and non-cash assets in detail. Remember, you are not required to inventory property not subject to probate.

If an asset is discovered after the first inventory and appraisal is filed with the court, a supplemental inventory and appraisal form can be completed and filed. If the value or description of an asset is incorrect, a corrective inventory and appraisal form should be filed.

Contact A People’s Choice for help with preparing the required forms to file the inventory and appraisal documents. A People’s Choice can also prepare all the required legal documents to probate your loved one’s estate. Professional, low-cost help is only a phone call away. Call today at 800-747-2780 for more information.

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By |2018-07-17T12:28:44-07:00March 3rd, 2016|Probate|6 Comments

About the Author:

Sandra M. McCarthy, founder of A People’s Choice Inc., has worked exclusively in the legal field since 1976. She served as the 2004-2005 President of CALDA (California Association of Legal Document Assistants). She obtained a Paralegal Certificate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her career in the legal field, she has worked as a freelance paralegal, law office manager and paralegal studies teacher, and has co-authored numerous legal publications and written hundreds of self-help legal articles. As a registered Legal Document Assistant, Sandy is dedicated to providing affordable, low-cost, self-help document preparation services for California consumers in all 58 counties.


  1. Jaclyn August 22, 2018 at 9:32 am

    This information is extremely helpful and informative. I am currently in the middle of a probate case and we’ve reached the inventory and appraisal stage. There is a respondent party who opposes the inventory and appraisal, claiming that the Administrator has not appraised every single item of the Decedent. The only things that the Decedent owned are pieces of jewelry (which has already been appraised), designer handbags, household furniture and a couple of designer clothing. The respondent insists on having the handbags, furniture and designer clothing appraised. Is this necessary?

    • Sandy McCarthy August 23, 2018 at 7:30 am

      Probably not necessary but without seeing your documents it is hard to really say what is going on. It seems, based on your comments, that you may be better served getting someone with experience like our office to help you get through this probate process. Give us a call and we can discuss how we can help keep this moving along.

  2. Keith Pretzer February 2, 2018 at 12:54 am

    Nice informational website. You communicated this very clearly, and provided appropriate links. I am currently in a probate case in California for my mother’s modest estate (a home owned free and clear and a 1996 Buick). The family is working together, with no contention among us, and there are no creditors. As a result I am handling without an Attorney in order to be responsible for preserving the estate’s assets for the beneficiaries rather than an Attorney’s retirement plan.. Your site has been very helpful to me. Although not an Attorney, I am reasonably comfortable with the probate forms and process and can appreciate how difficult it must be for most people to go through this. It is a shame things have devolved to this point.

    Thank you again and best wishes for your ongoing success.

    • Sandy McCarthy February 4, 2018 at 12:32 am

      I am glad our information has been helpful If you get stuck during the probate process, do not hesitate to reach out to us. Sometimes it ends up being a bit more complicated paperwork that people understand that you may find yourself at some point in need of assistance. We will be here if you do.

  3. CYNTHIA MCDANIEL December 6, 2017 at 10:50 pm

    hi, i have tried several times with emails to the attorney to do an appraisal of my dads assets with no avail. she refuses to talk to me. its been over 6 months and nothing to date. what should i do to get this process started.

    • Sandy McCarthy December 11, 2017 at 7:25 pm

      Are you currently in a probate case? I am not sure what process you are using to settle the estate. If you feel your attorney is not handling things timely and properly, you can always fire them.

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