If you have received a Notice from the Clerk of Court stating you may be entitled to Florida Tax Deed Sale Surplus Funds, how long do you or any other claimants have to make a claim for those funds? Florida Statute 197.582(2)(a) states that if the property was purchased in 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 will then issue a “Notice of Surplus Funds From Tax Deed Sale” to all parties the clerk believes may be able to claim these funds. The statute also lays out exactly how much time you have to make a claim.
Florida Statute 197.582(3) states, “A person receiving the notice under subsection (2) has 120 days from the date of the notice to file a written claim with the clerk for the surplus proceeds.” Florida Statute 197.582(5) further clarifies this and states in part that if a person, other than the property owner, fails to file such a claim in a timely manner, they are barred from receiving any disbursement of the surplus funds. This means that any lienholders that make a claim on the 121st day after the date of the notice, are simply out of luck. They only have 120 days. That is it.
But what about you? The former owner of the property or their heirs have a much longer, almost unlimited amount of time to make a claim for the Florida Tax Deed Sale Surplus Funds. This doesn’t mean the clerk of court will just hold that money indefinitely though. Generally, any surplus funds from a Tax Deed sale will be held for one year by the clerk of courts, and if not claimed at that time, those surplus funds will be turned over to the Florida Chief Financial Officer and go into the Florida Unclaimed Property funds (and ultimately used for the Florida Schools). Currently there is about $2 billion sitting with the Florida Chief Financial Officer’s unclaimed funds account. Some of those funds are from a Florida Tax Deed Sale Surplus from either you or a deceased family member’s tax deed sale. The State of Florida has a website to help people to find any surplus funds. This site also deals with other unclaimed property, such as unclaimed paychecks, refunds from the county, etc.
The website is fltreasurehunt.gov. All you must do is put in your name or your deceased relative’s name and see if something is there. If the name pops up, you will still need to file a claim and prove who you are. This can mean, at least in the case of Florida Tax Deed Sale Surplus Funds, you may need to have an attorney reopen the case and request the court disburse the funds to you. The best way of handling this is through a qualified Florida Tax Deed Surplus Attorney. Of course, it is always better for you to file a claim before the surplus funds get deposited in the unclaimed funds account with the state. By hiring a qualified Florida Tax Deed Surplus Attorney after the tax deed sale has taken place, you will have a better chance of making sure you maximize your surplus funds. This means the attorney will check to see if the subordinate lienholders (if any) are able to make a claim. Sometimes a subordinate lienholder’s lien is extinguished due to the tax deed sale. And as I mentioned earlier, sometimes they are barred due to trying to make a claim beyond the 120-day deadline.
If you or a deceased family member have lost a property to a Florida Tax Deed Sale and you aren’t sure of what to do next, please give me a call for a free consultation. Even if it has been years since the sale, I might be able to help you to retrieve those funds. I handle Tax Deed and Foreclosure Surplus funds in every county in the State of Florida, and I don’t get paid unless you do.