"Time is running out!"
Finding Unclaimed Property At the County Level (continued)
The following site CHARGES you to obtain a detailed record, BUT it will list records for the name you input for nearly all counties in Florida for free.
1. Go here
2. Click the blue "SEARCH NOW" button in the center of the page.
3. Once the search page 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 many 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 contact that county directly. A list of all of Florida's 67 county clerk's offices can be found here.
Tax deed sale overbid proceeds 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 on June 1st, at which revenue is raised by offering tax lien certificates to bidders for the delinquent taxes. Tax lien certificates must be held a minimum of two years before they can be redeemed.
When a tax lien certificate is redeemed, the clerk does not pay the certificate holder directly. Instead, an auction, known as a tax deed sale, is held by the clerk of court's office. When this happens, for all intents and purposes, the ownership of the property passes to the highest bidder (if no bid is offered, title passes to the original redeeming tax lien certificate holder, and there are no "overbid proceeds.")
The amount the winning bid exceeds the originally submitted tax lien certificate(s) (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 "tax overbid proceeds." Under Florida law, (F.S. 197.582), overbid proceeds are paid first to satisfy any qualified claims or liens, and any funds remaining are held for claim by the previous property owner(s), or their heirs.
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 Division of Unclaimed Property (counties may take far longer to actually send these funds to the state).
If you are an heir and receive notice from the county that overbid proceeds are being held for claim by the estate, you may need a court order to claim the funds. The county will be able to tell you precisely what documentation you need to claim your funds. If probate is required and completed, the county attorney will review your claim and authorize release of the funds to you.
Court registry funds owed to the estate
While more rare, there are instances where a person was awarded funds in a court case, either as a beneficiary or a plaintiff, and the court could not locate them or a representative of their estate. In these cases, the court holds the funds in what is known as the "Court Registry."
The process to locate these funds is the same as that used when searching for tax deed overbid proceeds (See "Finding Unclaimed Property At the County Level" above).
"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 a Florida county from a tax deed sale (see more below) are forwarded on to the Florida Division of Unclaimed Property, so those funds aren't lost either.
You can contact the Florida Division of Unclaimed Property 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 PROPERTY
Finding Florida Unclaimed Property 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 or more rarely, a court proceeding. If you've been contacted but don't know specifically where funds are located, the first place to start is at the state level, Florida's Division of Unclaimed Property, here.
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 a decedent of whom you are an heir or beneficiary, depending on the amount you may need a probate order to collect the funds. There are exceptions to this rule so be sure to discuss this with an agent at the Division of Unclaimed Property.
Finding Florida Unclaimed Property At the County Level
If you've checked with the Division of Unclaimed Property 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"), or as the result of a court case in which the decedent was awarded funds but could not be located.
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.
(cont'd top of next column)
The term "unclaimed property"and "unclaimed funds" are used interchangeably here, as almost always "property" or "funds" refer to money. If you've been told you'll need probate to recover unclaimed property, it was either by; Florida's Division of Unclaimed Funds; a county attorney; or more than likely, by a "Recovery agent". (See more on Tax Deed overbids or Court Registry, below).
In many cases, an abbreviated form of probate known as a Summary Administration may be available to the estate. This type of probate typically lowers court costs and legal fees, and shortens the period of time required to complete the administration. And if you've heard this phrase;
The hiring of a Florida probate attorney is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. This site is designed to provide general information only. Content on this site should not be interpreted as specific legal advice, or the formation of an attorney/client relationship.
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Available for in-person consultation in Inverness, FL
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What is "Florida Unclaimed Property"?
Finding Lost Life Insurance or Annuity Policies
"We've located funds held on your behalf..."
then you've probably been contacted by a third party, commonly referred to as a "locator" or "recovery agent." Often you are not told where these funds are located, but 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 do not know where precisely? You may also hear;
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners can assist consumers in locating life insurance policies and annuity contracts of a deceased family member or close relationship, here.
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Finding Unclaimed Property in Different States or with the Federal Government
What it is, where it's located, and how to recover it.
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