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Does filing for a short certificate send a red flag to the courts that a probate filing should occur?

Bensalem, PA |

Family member passed away without a will. Lived in an apt with only their name on the lease. Management has locked the apartment stating they need a short certificate. We only need it to gain access to the apt but will it put in motion other things that need to go through court. We are looking to avoid this at all costs. No other assets of real value to mention.

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Attorney answers 3


Hello ...

You answered your question - in reverse ... in order to get a Short Certificate, the "courts" are already "flagged" because you need to Probate to get a Short Certificate ... so the Probate has already occurred ...

Not the answer you want to hear - I know ... And I hope I explained it well enough ...

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The only way to obtain a short certificate is to open an estate for the deceased individual. The short certificate is proof that a will has been probated (or if there is no will, then it is proof that an administrator or administratrix has been appointed). You are correct that once an estate is opened, there are many other steps to follow and additional costs will be incurred. If the landlord will not acquiesce on this issue, you might have no choice.

You should contact an attorney in your area.


Marshall Chriswell

Law Offices of Marshall D. Chriswell
714 Philadelphia St., Suite 200
Indiana, PA 15701
(888) 438-5977
(724) 465-5826


Marshall D. Chriswell is a civil practitioner with offices in Indiana and Clearfield Counties. Mr. Chriswell's practice emphasizes Wills & Estate Planning, Probate, Real Estate, and general civil disputes.


Mr. Chriswell provides free initial consultations, and will gladly meet clients in their homes upon request, including on the evenings or weekends.

This communication does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, feel free to contact our offices.


I agree with my colleagues, When you obtain a short certificate, you have opened up the probate process and specific filing requirements would therefore be triggered, including inheritance tax form filing.

You may want to seek further assistance from probate counsel should you want to proceed further.

The information you obtain herein is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. It does not establish an Attorney/Client relationship. You should consult an experienced probate or estate attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.