It’s About Relationships


An absolutely essential and central aspect of the probate process is the Inventory and Appraisal.  The Executor (or Administrator) must find all of the decedent’s assets and those assets must be appraised, either by the Executor (if the asset is cash) or a court-appointed appraiser called a probate referee.  The valuation a probate referee places on assets may have consequences.  For example, if a probate referee does not know that a home is in terrible disrepair, they may value the house too high.  In many probates the house must sell for at least 90% of the appraised value, and it could cause extra hurdles in the probate process if a house was appraised at $500,000 but sold for $400,000 (80% of the appraised value) because the house was sold as-is and it was in poor condition.  On the other hand, if a probate referee appraises a property too low and it sells for a high amount, there could be capital gains tax impacts, because the estate (and ultimately all of the heirs/beneficiaries) must pay capital gains tax based on what is considered a “gain on sale.”

It is also a good idea to review the Secretary of State website to see if there are any assets held by the state that belonged to the decedent.  Believe it or not, I have found more than one estate where hundreds of thousands of dollars were held in an account by the Secretary of State – accounts apparently the decedent her/himself forgot about.  On the other hand, it is usually not necessary to appraise every piece of furniture and other household items.  Some of this may depend on particulars in a family – for example, if someone feels certain family heirlooms are particularly valuable and there is disagreement among the beneficiaries as to who should have the heirlooms.  Having an experienced attorney who can guide you through the inventory and appraisal process can make a big financial difference to the beneficiaries.  What is more, marshaling and inventorying the estate assets is a central legal duty of the Executor.

I am attorney Gadi Zohar, Esq., of Palo Alto, California. As an experienced probate and estate law attorney, I know how important it can be to navigate the many moving parts involved in the crucial inventory and appraisal process. Since 2011 I have learned how to navigate through the potentially complex issues so that the inventory and appraisal is accurate for the benefit of estate beneficiaries and for the protection of my clients who are acting as Executors. What I have learned from personal experience can never be taught in a class or via online research.

My experience as a probate and estate planning attorney includes inventorying and valuation of complex estate holdings, including:

  • Residential and rental real estate
  • Stocks, bonds and securities
  • Art, jewelry and other collectable personal property
  • Automobiles
  • Time Shares

INDEPENDENT ADMINISTRATION OF ESTATES: In many cases, once such items are inventoried, they must be sold or otherwise disposed of. In most cases I am able to get my clients full authority under the Independent Administration of Estates Act.  This allows them the easiest routes for selling or otherwise disposing of estate assets.  There are particular rules for selling certain assets, like houses, which usually require that a “Notice of Proposed Action” be sent to the heirs and beneficiaries.


As the Executor or Administrator of an estate, you have significant legal duties. A proper and complete inventory and appraisal is crucial. Thanks to remote attendance at courts, I represent estates in many counties throughout California. Call me at 650-449-6671or contact my office in Palo Alto by email to arrange a consultation about how I can help.