Many people believe that only substantial estates need to go through a formal probate process. That is not the case. A probate process needs to be used whenever a person dies with property in their name that does not have a beneficiary designation. Most states provide a method to probate a smaller estate in a simpler way. The specific amount of assets (the “probate threshold”) which determines the availability of this process varies widely. If the decedent’s assets fall below the state’s amount, the family can use the simplified or administrative probate method. In many states, this is as simple as completing a single form. If the value of decedent’s probate assets exceeds the state’s probate threshold, then the more traditional (and time consuming and expensive) probate method will need to be used.