The estate administration process in San Jose can often become contentious. While you and all others who are party to an estate may start out with the stated intention of avoiding discord, you may be surprised at how quickly it can arise when people fear that their interests may be affected. One area that many may disagree over is in the valuation of an estate’s assets. If you have been asked to serve as the executor of an estate, then you may feel overwhelmed at the prospect of trying to come up with an accurate appraisal on your own. Fortunately, you do not have to; the state will typically assign a probate referee to handle that task. 

What is a probate referee? It is a professional assigned by the county in which an estate is being probated (typically a lawyer, accountant or person with extensive appraisal experience) to come up with a reliable valuation of an estate’s assets. A probate referee will evaluate everything from real estate and investment accounts to automobiles and art collections. According to the California State Controller’s Office, probate referees are required to seek at least 15 hours of continuing education every year so that they can remain up-to-date with the latest appraisal techniques and consumer market trends. 

After having performed the valuation, a probate referee will typically then submit a final appraisal to the court. The probate referee’s services are paid for from an estate’s assets. Compensation cannot exceed 1 percent of the value of the assets appraised. In addition, a probate referee can charge for expenses such as travel costs and other items required to complete an appraisal.