Couple probating a small estate.

How to probate a small estate.

We are often asked whether probate is needed for small estates — for instance, where the only asset left solely in the deceased’s name is a car.

The short answer?

Yes, you almost always have to go through the entire probate process even for small estates.

In the above example, to change the name on the car’s title (regardless of the value) from the deceased’s name to the name of the heir, you need a court order. And to get that court order, you have to go through probate.


Is there a simpler way?

Thankfully, many states have simplified procedures to probate a small estate.

Each state’s threshold is different, but generally estates below $150,000 can petition the court for simplified estate procedure. Some states even have a vehicle-only probate form or will simply let you transfer a certain number of vehicles without probate.

You can contact the DMV to see if this option is available in your state.

See: Nevada simplifies small estate probate.

Don't make the mistake of overpaying an attorney to represent probate on a small estate. Contact us to learn more about our probate services and how we can help you save time and money.