A personal representative for a Florida estate has several responsibilities, including identifying and locating heirs, distributing assets, paying debts and filing taxes. There are times when heirs cannot be located, or after being located, they refuse to receive the property that was left to them.
For a personal representative, this type of situation can be challenging and leave you wondering what to do with the property. Fortunately, Florida law has a process you can follow.
Obtaining an order to sell the property
You must show the court that you have tried to locate the heir to the property and the heir cannot be found. If you located the heir, you must show the court that you tried to give them the property and they refused to receive it.
After that, a court can enter an order allowing you to sell the property. However, you cannot keep the proceeds for yourself. You must deposit the proceeds with the court clerk, who will place them in the court registry.
The next step is notice. The type of notice depends on the value of the proceeds.
If the proceeds were under $500, the court clerk must post a notice on the courthouse door for 30 days stating your name, the amount involved and other information that will put the heir on notice. For proceeds over $500, the notice must be published in a local newspaper once a month for 2 consecutive months.
Once notice is complete, there is a 6-month waiting period. The period starts on the first day of notice.
If no heir comes forward within the 6-month waiting period, the funds are then transferred to the state school fund. Anyone with a legal right to the funds has a 10-year period from the date of deposit into the state school fund to claim them.
What you can collect from the proceeds
When you deposit the funds with the court clerk, you may deduct expenses related to the property you will incur between the deposit date and the date you are discharged as a personal representative.
Unclaimed property can complicate and delay the estate administration process. There are resources available to answer your questions and provide guidance.