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If you’ve lost a loved one and serve as the personal representative of their estate, you likely have plenty of unanswered questions. As a personal representative, you will need to work hands-on to administer the estate. Often, the average person is unfamiliar with the probate process. One of the first tasks you will have to complete is filing an Inventory of Assets sheet. During this process, the decedent’s real property will need to be appraised.

Here are some answers to questions commonly that can help guide you through the appraisal process in California.

What types of property require appraisal?

Real property must be valuated for the purposes of estate administration. However, it is not necessary for all property to be appraised. Bank accounts, for example, do not require an appraisal. Common types of property that do require appraisal are listed below.

  • Real property
  • Tangible personal property, including cars, business interests and partnerships
  • Household items such as furniture
  • Stocks and bonds

As a personal representative, it will be your job to include these items in the second attachment of the Inventory and Assets sheet. You will give this list to a probate referee before you file to get the appraisal values.

What is a probate referee?

While you have the option of hiring an independent expert to appraise unique items such as antiques or collectibles, you cannot do so when it comes to other types of real property. Instead, the California State Controller’s Office in Orange County will appoint a probate referee. Probate referees are experienced appraisers who are qualified to make valuations. Referees charge fees for their services, which are calculated based on the value of the property they examine.

Hiring an attorney can help you to avoid common mistakes.

Assuming the role of a personal representative requires ample paperwork, time and a thorough understanding of the probate process. As such, there is a large margin for errors to be made. A common mistake includes failing to file the Inventory and Assets form on time. You may also make the mistake of improperly listing promissory notes and omitting how much interest the decedent owned in real property. Hiring an attorney can ensure that the estate will be properly administered and that the appraisal process operates smoothly.

Losing a loved one comes with challenges beyond estate administration. You will need time to grieve and make other important arrangements after their passing. Trying to handle probate administration on your own can negatively affect your mental health due to the stress that can accompany it. Hiring on legal help can you to focus on your emotional needs and work through the legalese of the court system.