I have recently been hired on a case where family members are fighting over who is to receive the Foreclosure Surplus Funds when the original owner of the property has passed away. Normally, the funds would go to the direct heirs of the decedent, but if this person was single, had no children, and no siblings, who gets the surplus funds?
First of all, Florida Statute 45.033(2)(b) states in part, “an involuntary transfer or assignment may be as a result of inheritance.” This means any direct heirs will be the recipient of those surplus funds by virtue of being close relatives of the decedent and it goes through the laws of intestacy “per stirpes”. Per Stirpes literally means “by roots”. This is the term used when distributing property to close relatives after a person has died without a will. Generally speaking, this is from parent to child. If the child(ren) is also deceased, it goes to the grandchild(ren). If the deceased had no children, then the property goes to his/her siblings. If the deceased was an only child, then it goes to his/her parents, then to uncles/aunts, then to first cousins, and so on.
Sometimes a court will appoint a Surplus Trustee based on Florida Statute 45.034. There are specific rules that the trustee must follow, and it is their job to search out any and all close relatives that may be an heir to the surplus funds. If there was no will and no direct relatives, it is sometimes necessary to file a probate action to determine who the heirs of the estate are. In the case I was hired for, a probate action was filed to determine the relatives who might receive anything from the estate. There are currently three relatives who are requesting the surplus funds. The judge in the case ordered that the distribution of surplus funds be abated (postponed) until the probate could be completed.
Once the probate is completed and all relatives have been notified by the probate attorney, the issue of who is to receive the surplus funds can be worked out. Normally this may require an evidentiary hearing and the heirs, or their representatives will be required to attend. Sometimes based on the statute 45.033(2)(b), once the heirs have been determined by the probate court, it will only be necessary to add the probate documents to the motion for disbursement. This will show the court that all relatives have been found and the assignment was an involuntary transfer. Based on this statute, the involuntary transfer means that the relatives who are mentioned in the probate documents should automatically receive the surplus funds after a Motion for Disbursement.
If you believe that you are due Foreclosure Surplus Funds anywhere in Florida after a family member has died, please give me a call. I can help you to determine if you should receive some or all of those funds if you are unsure. It is important to hire a professional Florida Foreclosure Surplus Attorney who is well versed in all aspects of the laws and statutes surrounding this. I handle Foreclosure Surplus cases in every county in the State of Florida. Please give me a call for a free consultation and I don’t get paid unless you do.