If you been told that you'll need a probate order to recover funds, either by Florida's Division of Unclaimed Funds or a county attorney (See more on Tax Deed overbids, below), an abbreviated form of probate known as a Summary Administration may be available to the estate.
FLORIDA UNCLAIMED FUNDS
This type of probate action typically lowers the court costs and legal fees, and shortens the period of time required to complete the administration (for more on Summary Administration, click here).
On the other hand, if you've been contacted and heard;
"WE'VE LOCATED FUNDS ON YOUR BEHALF..."
Many times this contact comes from a third party, commonly referred to as 'Locator' or 'Recovery Agent.'
Often you are not told 'where' these funds are located, just that for a percentage of the recovery, typically 30-50%, the informant will offer to obtain the money for you.
You may even have some idea that these funds are located in Florida, but no be sure precisely where. You might also hear;
"TIME IS RUNNING OUT!" [Not really.]
Relax. If you have been told that time is of the essence as you may lose your money, know that funds held by the State of Florida's Bureau of Unclaimed Funds are held for the benefit of claimants and can always be claimed. From the Bureau's website:
"Unclaimed Funds are deposited into the State School Fund and used to support public schools. However, the original amount reported can always be claimed by the owner, or his/her heirs..."
Funds held by counties from a tax deed sale (see more below) are forwarded on to the state's Bureau of Unclaimed Funds after one year, so those funds aren't lost, either.
You can contact the Florida Bureau of Unclaimed Funds (here) to confirm the funds are being held, confirm what documents they'll require from you to recover the funds, and gain peace of mind knowing the funds aren't going anywhere until you do. An FAQ for claimants is located here.
HOW TO FIND YOUR UNCLAIMED FUNDS
Finding Unclaimed Funds At the State Level:
In Florida, most unclaimed funds are held either by the state,
or by a county as the result of a tax deed sale.
If you've been contacted but don't know specifically where funds are located, the first place to start is at the state level, (click link) Florida's Bureau of Unclaimed Funds.
If you're seeking funds specifically in your name and find them, you'll probably be able to file for a direct recovery. "Found money" is nice!
If, however, funds are being held in the name of an estate for which you are an heir or beneficiary, in all likelihood you'll need a probate court order to collect the funds.
There are exceptions to this rule so be sure to discuss this with an agent at the Bureau.
Finding Unclaimed Funds At the County Level
If you've checked with the Bureau of Unclaimed Funds and nothing turned up, then most likely funds are being held by a specific Florida county as the result of an overbid on property auctioned off for delinquent taxes (also referred to as 'tax deed overbids.')
IMPORTANT: As of July 2011, tax deed sale overbid proceeds are held by the County for a period of one (1) year. If these funds are not claimed within that time, they are forwarded to Florida's Bureau of Unclaimed Funds.
There are two ways to determine if money is being held by a county on your behalf or that of someone related to you.
First, if you don't know in
what county land or property may have been held, you can do a statewide search of all 67 Florida counties at once.
The following site CHARGES you to obtain a detailed record, BUT it will list records for the name you input for all counties in Florida for free.
2. Click the blue 'SEARCH NOW' button in the center of the page.
3. On the page that opens, in the first box entitled, 'Party Name' enter the name.
4. In the 'Document Type' (third box down) scroll and select 'Lis Pendens'
5. Hit the 'Search' button at the bottom of the panel.
Depending upon the name you may get a lot of entries. You can narrow this down if you have a good idea of the county beforehand. If you locate what looks like a record of interest, make note of the information listed and you can then contact that county directly. A list of all of Florida's 67 County Clerk's offices can be found here.
HOW TO RECOVER YOUR UNCLAIMED FUNDS
Once funds have been located either with the Florida Bureau of Unclaimed Funds or with a specific County, you should be able to apply directly for recovery.
You may be able to obtain the funds on your own behalf, but you might be informed that you'll first need to obtain a probate order from the court.
If this is the case and you'd like to discuss your situation on more detail, feel free to contact me for a free review and flat-fee quote.
TAX SALE OVERBIDS OWED TO THE ESTATE
(NOTE: This is a simplified explanation. If you own Florida property or are an heir to a Florida property with delinquent property taxes, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible concerning your options.)
In Florida, when real property taxes go unpaid, counties are required by law to hold a public auction at which revenue is raised by offering tax lien certificates to bidders. Tax lien certificates must be held a minimum of two years before they can be redeemed.
A tax lien certificate that is redeemed is then re-offered by the Clerk of Court's office at a tax deed sale. When this happens, for all intents and purposes, the ownership of the property passes to the highest bidder.
The amount the winning bid exceeds the back taxes (and other costs) may be, and often is, thousands of dollars in excess of the amount actually owed. This excess is called the "overbid" or "overbid proceeds." Under Florida law, (F.S. 197.582), overbid proceeds are to be paid to the previous property owner.
If you are an heir and receive notice that overbid proceeds are being held for claim by the estate, you will probably need a court order to claim the funds. The County will be able to tell you precisely what it is you need to provide them with to claim your overbid funds. Once the probate action is completed, the county attorney will review your claim and authorize release of the funds by the Clerk of the Court.
If you have received a notice from a Florida County Clerk of the Court that tax sale overbid proceeds are being held for claim by an estate and would like to discuss your situation as well as our fees for your case, please complete a Free Case Review and Flat-Fee Quote evaluation, below: