Probate Referee Exam

Written Qualifying Examination

The Probate Referee exam is administered once per calendar year. The 2025 exam information will be available in January of 2025

EXAMINATION DATE:   Sat., March 16; Sun., March 17; Mon., March 18; or Tue., March 19, 2024 (applicant chooses ONE date)

See: for additional information. A practice exam is available here.

OPENING FILING DATE: January 01, 2024

FINAL FILING DATE:   March 01, 2024

All applications must be received by the final filing date. Applications arriving through the mail after the final filing date will not be accepted for any reason. You may obtain an application by contacting CPS HR Consulting at the address, telephone number or e-mail address listed below, or by visiting or Please write your email address on the upper, right corner of the application. Applications must be filed by mail with:

CPS HR Consulting
Attn: Probate Referee Program
2450 Del Paso Road, Suite 160
Sacramento, CA 95834
Telephone: (916) 263-3624, select option #4
California Relay Service from TDD: 1-800-735-2929

An examination fee of $75.00 (check or money order made payable to the Office of the State Controller) is required of each applicant and must accompany the application. This fee is not refundable.


Please note that five (5) letters of recommendation from the references you list on your application will be required to be considered for an appointment. All letters are to be received by the State Controller's Office no later than March 1, 2024. Send letters to: State Controller's Office, Attn: Probate Referee Program, 300 Capitol Mall, Suite 1850, Sacramento, CA 95814.

A Probate Referee independently appraises all real estate and tangible and intangible personal property except cash-type items in probate estates; applies probate law to the facts; may hold hearings to obtain the necessary facts and resolve issues of the application of the law to the facts; and other duties as provided by law.

A Probate Referee is appointed to a panel in the county of his or her residence by the State Controller for a term of four (4) years or as otherwise provided by law from a list of persons determined to meet the minimum qualifications.

There are approximately 98 Probate Referee positions on county panels statewide; currently, approximately 24 of these positions will be available for re-appointment. Please note that the law gives the State Controller absolute authority over the establishment of standards of training, performance and ethics for Probate Referees. Appointments are subject to termination for a violation of established standards of training, performance or ethics or for any other reason provided by law.

Prior to appointment, personal interviews and fingerprints will be required. Investigation may be made of experience and personal histories.

A person who passes the examination is eligible for appointment for a period of five (5) years from the date of examination. Applicants must still successfully complete any additional qualifications required by the appointing Controller, including but not limited to, an interview.

Probate Referees are not salaried but are remunerated, by law, by fees paid directly by the estate (ordinarily 1/10 of 1% of the appraised value in each case -- cash-type items excepted -- to a maximum of $10,000 per estate) from which the referee must pay all expenses (rent, employee salaries, office expenses, etc.).

A Probate Referee (or any applicant for or person seeking such appointment) shall not, directly or indirectly: (a) solicit, receive, or contribute, or be in any manner concerned in soliciting, receiving or contributing, any assessment, subscription, contribution or political service for any campaign for the Office of the State Controller; or (b) solicit, receive or contribute, or be in any manner concerned in soliciting, receiving or contributing, any assessment, subscription or contribution for any campaign for any other partisan public office of this state exceeding $200 to any party or any candidate in any one year.

Any person who within the last two (2) years preceding appointment has engaged in any such prohibited activity is not eligible for appointment. Probate Referees must agree to not solicit nor receive political contributions from persons related to the conduct of Probate Referee business.

To be appointed as a Probate Referee, a person must by experience, background, training and temperament, be qualified to exercise sound judgment in the determination of fair market values of property of all types, real and personal. Applicants must possess the education/experience requirements as listed on the application to be accepted into the written examination. Passing the written examination is also required of those seeking appointment as a Probate Referee.

The written examination will last approximately three (3) hours and will be administered by CPS HR Consulting via online exam through ProctorU. ProctorU is a live online proctoring service that allows you to take your exam from the comfort of your home or office. In order to use ProctorU, you will need to have a high-speed internet connection, a webcam (internal or external), a windows or apple Operating System, and a government issued photo ID. ProctorU recommends that you visit the automated equipment check at prior to your proctoring session to test your equipment.

Notices will be mailed to those accepted into the written examination prior to the written test and will include information about the online exam and a link to schedule your testing session with ProctorU; you will need to schedule your proctoring session at least 72 hours in advance. Reasonable accommodation may be made for unusual circumstances such as religious convictions or physical conditions. A written explanation and request must accompany the application. Candidates may bring non-programmable calculators to the examination.


  • Principles, methods and techniques of appraising real property of all types, including residential, rural, industrial and commercial.
  • Principles, methods and techniques of appraising tangible and intangible personal property of all types, including business, partnerships and closely held corporations.
  • Judgment; analytical and reasoning ability.
  • General understanding of the laws and procedures relating to probate, wills, community and quasi-community property.

See: for additional information. A practice exam is available here.

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