Real Estate and the Probate Referee

A probate referee is required by California probate law to appraise every piece of property (unless there is a waiver that is not objected to by interested parties).  This most specifically includes real property.  Probate Code Section 9802 requires the probate referee to personally appraise the property.  In most cases, this report prepared by the probate referee will stand up to any objection that it was done in error, unless it can be shown that the appraisal was not personally conducted or some other technicality becomes clear.

Once a probate is opened, the court will appoint a probate referee, usually a highly-regarded lawyer or someone with credibility which the court has pre-approved.  The referee will make a determination of the value of real estate, or other propery, at the time of death.  That determination, unless not accepted by the court, will be relied upon by not only the personal representative and the court, but all other interested persons in the probate estate. 

As a personal representative, you will still need to conduct appraisals on the other property (not real estate) owned by the decedent, such as personal property that is not unique.  For unique items, such as art or jewelry, sometimes an expert in that area needs to be retained to make that appraisal.

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