We have handled many Florida Tax Deed Surplus cases over the years, but many of our clients are not aware of the process before contacting us. The process to receive those surplus funds can be a little daunting, but with a qualified Florida Surplus Attorney helping you, the process can be a lot easier.
According to Florida Statute 197.582(2)(a), “if the property is purchased for an amount in excess of the statutory bid of the certificate holder, the surplus must be paid over and disbursed by the clerk.” The clerk cannot simply send you the money though. This is considerably different than a foreclosure surplus case, as in those, an affidavit isn’t always necessary. For a tax deed surplus case, it is necessary by statute. Florida Statute 197.582(3) lays out the basic language necessary to make a claim. It also states that it must be notarized. In Section (4) of the same statute, it states the ways the claim can be submitted to the clerk. It also states that only claims that are not by the property owner (usually subordinate lienholders), must be submitted no later than the 120th day after the date of the mailed notice of the surplus or it will be barred. Section (9) clearly states that if the clerk does not receive a claim for surplus funds within the 120-day claim period from any subordinate lienholders, there is a conclusive presumption that the legal titleholder of record (former homeowner) is entitled to the surplus funds.
The legal titleholder of record is the person who owned the property at the time the certificateholder purchased the tax deed certificate. Many times, the legal titleholder of record has passed away and the family members or heir(s) are now the legal titleholder(s) based on their rights as heirs of the deceased. Each of those heirs will have to submit their own affidavits claiming the surplus funds. It is also (generally) necessary to provide in that affidavit a description of the property, and many counties will require legal documents proving you are who you say you are. These documents can include copies of birth certificates and driver’s licenses. It may also be necessary to provide a copy of the deceased’s death certificate to prove that you are now an heir.
Additionally, it may be necessary to file a Summary Administration for the deceased’s estate or to even file a full Probate. This is something that it is very important to speak with a qualified Florida Tax Deed Surplus Attorney about because all of this needs to be correct in form and in content or you could possibly be held liable for perjury. When it comes to filling out an affidavit claiming interest, this is something you are also swearing to. Many Florida Counties have forms available on their clerk’s websites, but they don’t always state that you are swearing to the truth of what goes into that affidavit. An affidavit is an oath or affirmation that is reduced to writing and sworn or affirmed before a Notary Public. You must make sure that what you are putting into this affidavit is correct or, once again, you could be held liable for perjury.
Once an affidavit has been filed for either you as the prior homeowner, or as an heir or beneficiary of a deceased former homeowner, the Clerk of Court for your county will be able to disburse the funds to you. If it is well past the required 120-day claim period, then you should receive the remaining surplus funds. If it is still within that 120-day claim period, then there is the possibility that the judge may require an evidentiary hearing to determine all of the claimants and what percentage they are owed. Once everything has been determined in the evidentiary hearing, then the Clerk of Court will be able to release the funds to you based on the results of the hearing.
Whether it is you who is due the Florida Tax Deed Surplus funds as the prior homeowner, or you as an heir or beneficiary of the prior homeowner, I will be happy to give you a free consultation and help you through the process of claiming these surplus funds. I handle Florida Tax Deed Surplus and Florida Foreclosure Surplus cases in every county in the state of Florida, and I don’t get paid unless you do.