• understanding the role of a probate refere

Understanding The Role of a Probate Referee

If you are settling an estate through the probate process, most likely you will need a probate referee. The role of a probate referee is to appraise property in the estate.  A probate referee is a professional, usually an attorney, a certified public accountant, or a person with several years of professional experience in property appraisal.   A probate referee has training in a wide variety of valuations, not just real estate valuation.  In California, all probate referees are appointed by the California State Controller’s Office.  Probate referees must pass a state-administrated exam and complete 15 hours of continuing education annually.

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I used A People’s Choice for the preparation and filing of court documents in connection with probate for my sister’s estate.  I began the probate process in pro per without knowing of the services of A People’s Choice.  After many trips to the LA Court house and attempting to interpret the requirements for each filing, I heard of A People’s Choice.  Fantastic find!  I hired this firm after discovering the difficultly in processing the probate by myself.  Very knowledgeable with good technology to keep me informed along the process of their filing of numerous documents.  Their fees were significantly less than what I would have had to pay for an attorney yet their services were excellent and I could not see where an attorney would have been any better (or as good).I highly recommend this service.
Ron C.
“I can’t say enough about the level of service and professionalism I received working with A People’s Choice. Emails were always responded to quickly and thoughtfully. They really care about the process and helping you get the best result with no up-selling. Of course, they can’t provide legal advice, but I was referred to an attorney when I needed some questions answered who was very reasonable and easy to get a hold of as well. The process played out according to plan and I ended up saving a lot of money by going with A People’s Choice over an attorney.”
M. Rice
“I am writing to give A People’s Choice my utmost recommendation. I live in New England and found them on the web. After speaking with a staff member on the phone I had the confidence to give them my business. A People’s Choice handled my probate case with great professionalism and knowledge. My case turned out to be more complicated than originally believed and the staff walked me through each step. They always responded promptly to my email questions. In the end, their service was exactly what I hoped for; they saved me thousands of dollars and allowed me to do it from across the country. They were truly a pleasure to work with.”
K. Levenson
“A People Choice provided excellent support with the appropriate legal documents and filing process in a spousal property petition after my husband passed. Lawyers wanted to charge me a fortune. However, once I spoke with someone at A People’s Choice, they took on my case and guided me through every step. A People’s Choice has years of experience which gave me a sense of trust and confidence. I always got immediate feedback from every email request. If you have a need for probate help, I would highly recommend A People’s Choice.”
Sylvia A
“I had a great experience with my probate using A People’s Choice! The people that assisted me were so helpful.  I could not have done this probate by myself.  I was able to save over 10,000 in lawyer fees!  All my emails were always returned so quickly, and I am a very satisfied customer.  I would highly recommend A People’s Choice to all my friends and family!”
Joi C
“APC did a great job with my father’s probate case. I highly recommend them. Professional staff!!! Probably saved me about $10k.”
Eric N
“When my mother in-law passed away last year, we didn’t know what to do. We contacted A People’s Choice and from day one they were very helpful. They almost held our hand every step of the way, and if I had a question any time of the day or night someone got back to me within a few hours. I highly recommend A People’s Choice if you don’t know what to do and don’t want to pay the high price of a lawyer especially if you don’t have much money.”
Mikki C
“A People’s Choice helped us throughout our entire year-long probate making the process very easy and manageable while at the same time saving us thousands of dollars in lawyer’s fees. Not only were they extremely friendly and fast to respond to our questions but they made the process simple enough that we hardly ever had to contact the courthouse directly and we even had a hearing done without an appearance. Would highly recommend A People’s Choice to anyone!”
A. Vuckovich
“A People’s Choice is a very responsible and effective company, staff there is very nice and replied to all my questions by email quickly. With their help, I accomplished the probate in 8 months successfully and saved at least $10,000.00 in attorney fees, so I strongly recommend everybody to contract with A People’s Choice and let them to help you with your legal documents. You will be very satisfied with their work as I did!!!!”
C. Chiu
“A People’s Choice walked me through the entire probate process. They are so professional and helpful. Thank you to the staff for your guidance and patience to talk me through such difficult time. You made the process very smooth for me. I am so glad that I found you.” 
Sandie K.
“The staff at A People’s Choice made a scary Probate pretty much stress free. I would send an email with a question I had thought of over the weekend with the expectation that I would get an answer on Monday. Lo and behold, I often got an answer within minutes! We are very pleased and will be referring our friends/family to A People’s Choice!”
L. Garrett
“Thanks to A People’s Choice I was able to get through a probate matter very smoothly. I had not one issue with the Courts. They guided me through the whole probate until the very end. I live up north but that didn’t matter, A People’s Choice did an excellent job keeping me informed with everything that I needed to do. I saved THOUSANDS of dollars by going with A People’s Choice. You can’t go wrong, no matter what your needs are. I saved a lot of money by not having to pay out a percentage to any attorney. I want to thank the staff at A People’s Choice for the great help they give to everyone in their times of need. Like I was! Thank You.”
R. Leonard
“When my father passed away without a will, we needed help handling the transfer of his assets. Since there weren’t significant assets, I didn’t want to spend too much on the legal paperwork. A People’s Choice offered just the right service we needed. In particular, the staff was very responsive to our document filing needs, helping to turn around corrections almost immediately. They helped to ease a tough situation.”
Michael C.
“I used A People’s Choice for help with a probate matter. My grandfather died Christmas of 2016. He had a living trust, but no one was able to find it. We went to A People’s Choice and we were able to do a probate affidavit to get what was left of my grandfather’s estate. Took two days for the documents to be prepared and the bank accepted them without any questions. Sandy was the one who assisted us, and we really appreciate the help that was provided. A+ service.”
David R.
“A People’s Choice worked on my probate case for over 1 year. Their knowledge, dedication and commitment to clients is exceptional. They prepared all the required legal documents, and all the court filings. They used the e-filing system, which initially I was hesitant about, but I’m so glad they did. It really expedited the process. They always answered my emails in a very timely manner and was always professional. The probate process is long and sometimes seems overwhelming. It’s also very expensive, A People’s Choice saved me thousands of dollars over going to an Attorney. I would highly recommend A People’s Choice for your probate needs, it’s cost effective, and they handle the entire process from beginning to end. They do a great job!”
C.K..
“A People’s Choice was professional and courteous throughout a long probate process. Probate itself is a frustrating and expensive process; however, everyone I came in contact with at A People’s Choice was exceptionally helpful, patient, and professional. For those entering into the probate process I must warn you that it is difficult to understand but the staff at A People’s Choice makes it as tolerable you could wish for.  The people who work there were kind, efficient, and understanding.  As long as you email them your questions, they will get back to you and they will not make you feel like you are ignorant if you are unclear about any part of the process.”
Marcel B
“I needed help understanding and filling out legal documents, but I didn’t have enough money to pay for an attorney. I searched the internet for a short period of time looking for help and when I found A People’s Choice, I was relieved to know that I would get the exact service that I needed at an affordable price. The staff was very professional and helpful with my legal documents. They worked around my schedule and responded to my emails on a timely manner. They took care of all the paperwork and filing and kept me posted. I would highly recommend A People’s Choice for your legal documents as you will get outstanding service at an affordable price. “
Sharon B.

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Duties and Role of a Probate Referee

The role of a probate referee is to determine the value of all non-cash property in the estate.  The administrator for the estate will give the probate referee a list of assets in the estate. The document that lists the estate assets is the Inventory and Appraisal. The Inventory will have several attachments. Attachment 1 to the Inventory and Appraisal lists all cash assets. Attachment 2 lists all non-cash assets such as real estate, stocks and bonds, business property, art or other valuable collectables, furniture, other household items, and vehicles.  The role of a probate referee is to determine the individual values of all items on Attachment 2 of the Inventory.

Once the probate referee finishes valuing the non-cash assets of the estate, he/she must sign the Inventory and Appraisal (Form DE-160). This document includes a statement that the valuations made by the probate referee were honest, impartial, and to the best of their ability.  Once the probate referee finishes the appraisal, the personal representative is responsible for paying the referee’s fee for valuing the estate assets. The probate referee fee is equal to 0.1% of the total value of the estate assets listed on Attachment 2. For small estates, the probate referee has a minimum charge of $75. For extensive estates, the probate referee has a maximum fee of $10 million. Usually, the probate referee will not release the Inventory and Appraisal form until they receive payment. Once the referee gets their payment and releases the Inventory, you can file it with the probate court and proceed to finalize the probate process.

Will You Need a Probate Referee?

Most probate cases require a probate referee, but there are a few exceptions.  If the estate is a small estate that is being settled through an affidavit rather than a court proceeding, the role of a probate referee might not be required.  A probate referee is also not required when filing a spousal petition.  Lastly, if the estate involves probate, and only lists cash assets on attachment 1 of the Inventory, then the court will not require a probate referee.  Lastly, if an administrator can show good cause, he/she can petition the court to waive the probate referee requirement, and the court will hold a hearing to decide the matter.  Be aware, however, that Judges rarely grant such a request.

The role of a probate referee in probate cases is vital in the probate process. Many counties in California will automatically appoint a probate referee.  If the court does not automatically select one, the administrator will need to file a form with the court to request the court appoint the probate referee.  The local forms vary from county to county, so an administrator should check with their local courts to determine what steps are necessary to appoint the probate referee. You can find a listing of probate referees through the California Probate Referee Association or the California State Controller’s Office website.  In small estate proceedings, the administrator may select any probate referee in the county where the property in the estate is located.

A People’s Choice has extensive experience preparing probate documentation. If you need help with a California probate, or help completing an Inventory and Appraisal, contact us today at 800-747-2780.

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By |2019-05-12T08:19:04-07:00December 30th, 2018|Probate|0 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.

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