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 do 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 $55,425, 2) the small estate process for estates with real property under $166,250, and 3) a full probate proceeding for estates over $166,250. 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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