If you die without a will, the court appoints an administrator to handle your estate. Part of the administrator’s responsibility is to distribute your property to your family members according to the laws of intestate succession.

However, as Florida Statutes explain, if you die with no will and there is no one close to you entitled to inherit, your property escheats. In other words, the state government takes possession of your property.

What happens to the escheated property?

Escheated property goes to support the State School Fund. This involves the sale of the property. The proceeds from the sale then go on to the state’s Chief Financial Officer, who makes the deposit. Florida Probate Rules govern the sale of the escheated property.

What happens if someone claims entitlement to the escheated property?

Even following sale of the escheated property, a person can reopen the administration and assert entitlement to the proceeds from the sale. This will result in legal proceedings in which the Department of Legal Affairs represents the state.

The person claiming entitlement can request that a designated accountant, attorney or private investigation agency receive the proceeds from the sale on his or her behalf. In this instance, the funds will go into an escrow account or a trust.

However, a person claiming entitlement to the proceeds from the sale of the escheated property does not have forever to make the assertion. The law states that the person making the claim must reopen the administration within 10 years after the Chief Financial Officer receives the proceeds from the escheated property’s sale.